Managing Through Protein Supply Disruptions

May 1, 2020

The supply of distillers grains is currently limited due to COVID-19. Michelle Rook sat down with Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate, to discuss alternative protein options for producers.

What is happening to the supply of supplemental crude protein sources?

  • Dramatically lower demand for gasoline due to COVID-19 restrictions has resulted in collapsing prices for ethanol.
  • Many plants across the country have either curtailed production or ceased altogether.
  • Consequently, distillers grains have become much less available and more expensive.

What alternatives are available?

  • Oilseed meals, such as soybean, canola, or sunflower meal.
  • Commercial supplement with or without urea in either a dry or liquid form.
  • High-quality roughages especially high-protein alfalfa hay.
  • Other feedstuffs such as field peas or whole soybeans are other options.

What should I consider when choosing a protein source?

  • Tools such as the SDSU Extension Feed Cost Calculator (!/calculators/feed-cost) compare feeds based on delivered cost per unit of protein.
  • Protein supplement choice can depend in part on what other feeds are being fed. Urea-based supplements require a rapidly soluble source of carbohydrates, which can be an issue if the rest of the diet is primarily low-quality, high-fiber roughage.
  • Visit with a nutritionist or Extension specialist for more management considerations surrounding changing feed ingredients.

SDSU Extension Cow/Calf and Beef Nutrition Specialists

Adele Harty

Julie Walker

Ken Olson

Olivia Amundson

Robin Salverson

Warren Rusche

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