Agricultural engineer Kurt Rosentrater, from the North Central Agricultural Research (ARS) Laboratory, Brookings, South Dakota, has turned DDGS from corn-based ethanol production into high-quality pellets using processing equipment at a commercial feed mill.
The the process did not harm the high-protein, low-starch nutrient content of the DDGs and his findings could open the door to more marketing options for the by-product, including the aquaculture business.
DDGS is the protein, fat, fibre, unconverted starch and ash left over after ethanol production. To date, there are no commercial DDGS pellets available for animals feed, which limits the by-product’s use as a raw material food source. Cattle feed is currently the primary outlet for distiller's grain, it is also suitable for pigs and poultry and could be used successfully in farmed fish diets.
Farmed fish already eat pelletised feed, which usually contain commercially produced fish meal as the main protein source. However fish-derived protein is more expensive than DDGS sources and using it has significant environmental implications and concerns.
Rosentrater is currently experimenting with soy and corn flour, added to distiller's grain to produce pelletised feeds. The outcome of these studies hopes to establish if DDGS can replace, substitute or even eliminate the fishmeal fraction of fish diets and if so by how much.
These findings are a significant breakthrough for nutritionists and the feed industry. The pelletising work also promises to solve a growing problem of product deterioration—as well as hardening and caking problems during the transport and storage of animal feed.
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