WASHINGTON — Feeding high levels of distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to pigs is reducing feed costs for Canadian swine producers and leading to excellent growth performance in their herds, the U.S. Grains Council said on May 14.

"Growth performance during the trial was excellent," said Eduardo Beltranena, a research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. "Feed cost at the time this trial ran was so high that 100 grams more feed per pound gained represented $2.40 extra feed cost per hog marketed."

Mr. Beltranena is the leading researcher for a collaborative study sponsored partly by the USGC. The council said it is currently in the second phase of determining the impact on growth performance and pork quality with the inclusion of high levels of DDGS in the diet. Though the project is not complete, Mr. Beltranena reported "no concern whatsoever" in the growth performance of the pigs when fed 30% DDGS.

"Our results showed that feeding 30% corn DDGS and implementing a withdrawal strategy did not affect neither hog growth performance, feed cost per hog, income over feed cost nor cost per pound gained. However, the rate of withdrawal of corn DDGS out of the finishing diets improved carcass dressing percent and estimated carcass pork yield," he said.

Pork producers are concerned with cutting feed costs, which account for 70% of the overall cost of production and they maintain a strong focus on the quality of the meat, according to the council. The researchers determined the duration of the dietary inclusion level of DDGS before market weight to avoid undesirable effects on pork and fat quality. Mr. Beltranena said these withdrawal rates are imperative to the producer and processor in order to maintain the quality of product the consumer demands.

The study, now in its final stage, will assist the council in broadening the market for the abundant co-product of U.S. ethanol production, according to USGC. Canada has consistently been the second-largest market for U.S. DDGS at 771,797 tonnes in 2008, a 142% increase from 2007. As of Feb. 28, 2009, 206,817 tonnes of U.S. DDGS have been exported to Canada.