General Information
General Information

Distillers’ Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) are co-products of the fuel ethanol industry. Depending on the geographical location and time of year, a variety of grain feedstock can be used for ethanol production including corn, wheat, barley, sugar cane and others. North American ethanol production is typically based on corn, but because of the productivity and availability of wheat on the Prairies, it is the feedstock of choice for ethanol production in western Canada.

Wheat-based DDGS in western Canada

Many different classes and types of wheat can be used as feedstock for ethanol production. In general, soft wheats such as Canadian Prairie Spring (CPS), soft white and soft red classes are preferred to hard wheats because they contain a higher starch content. Varieties with higher protein such as HRS are less desirable, but may still be used when blended with one or more high starch varieties.

Wheat-based DDGS is a unique product in that it is high in energy and protein as well as fibre, yet low in starch. Starch present in the grain is fermented almost completely during the ethanol production process, and the remaining amino acids, fat, minerals and vitamins increase approximately three-fold in concentration compared to the original levels found in the feedstock. These properties give wheat DDGS unique feeding opportunities for various classes of livestock as both an energy and protein supplement. However, due to variation in the supply and use of different feedstocks, the nutrient composition of DDGS is often inconsistent – both between plants and among batches from the same plant.

In addition to this, DDGS is subject to high temperature drying processes which may result in reduced protein quality despite the high overall crude protein content. The issue of protein quality is an important one and must be addressed, especially when considering use of DDGS in diets formulated for monogastric animals (swine and poultry). Because wheat ethanol plants are just going through commissioning, current research is focused in determining baseline nutrient profiles and variables that may influence DDGS quality.