Ethanol By-Product DDGS Not Safe for Horse Feed, Nutritionist Says

Posted by Fran Jurga | 22 January 2009 | The Jurga Report at

What is this? An ear of corn looks like the ghost of mid-summer dinners past, if you live in New England. If you live in the midwest, it looks like the crop that helps drive a state’s economy. If you’re an economist, it looks like a commodity that reached an all-time high price per bushel in 2008. And if you’re in the energy business, it looks like the base of the “green” fuel known as ethanol. But if you’re a horse…it looks like a potential stomach ache. And possibly death.

While ethanol production booms in the United States, we are left with the problem of the by-product of the energy replacement boom. Dried (or wet) Distiller’s Grains with Soluble (DDGS) needs a place to go. So it’s going into animal feed of every kind. But one Kansas State nutritionist says, “Hold your horses!” because DDGS not only may contain mold toxins that effect horses (but not most other animals)–it even intensifies them. DDGS is not a safe way for horse farms to economize on real grain. Read on!

(news release issued by Kansas State University)

Distiller’s grains have become a staple in some bovine diets, but a Kansas State University researcher is not recommending that they be used in horse rations.

“People have asked ?can I feed dried or wet distiller’s grains with soluble (DDGS) to my horses’,” said Teresa Slough, equine nutrition specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

Given the information researchers have so far, Slough said she would not recommend feeding DDGS to horses.

There has been little research done in feeding DDGS, a byproduct of the ethanol production process, to horses, she said. So far, the studies that have been done examined feeding DDGS for only a short period of time.

“There is no information available so far on the long-term effects of feeding DDGS to working horses, mares or foals,” she said.

The upside of feeding DDGS to horses is that they will eat it and, in fact, they like it, said Slough, who is an assistant professor in K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. In addition, it is sometimes a less expensive source of protein.

But Slough warns that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

“Horses are very susceptible to fumonisin poisoning from moldy corn. Fermentation during ethanol production doesn’t destroy the mold, rather it is concentrated.

“Feeding DDGS contaminated with fumonisin just once could cause death,” she said.

Another disadvantage, the researcher said, is that DDGS has a high phosphorous content.

“Unless the other feedstuffs in the horse’s diet are very high in calcium, the potential exists to create a diet inversed in its Ca:P ratio and negatively affect bone development,” Slough added. “This is of particular concern with broodmares and foals.”

DDGS has a high sulfur content, which also makes it problematic for horses.

“Sulfur toxicity in horses, although rare, can result in colic, jaundiced mucous membranes, labored breathing, cyanosis and convulsions, followed by death,” she said.

“The bottom line is, feeding DDGS to horses is not recommended unless it’s been tested for fumonisin and contains less than 5 parts per million, and then it should only comprise a small percentage of the total diet” she concluded.

Blogger’s Note: Click here to learn more about DDGS.




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