Bio-fuels and the Livestock Industy
Growth in the bio-fuels industry has helped to provide a major step towards diversifying and providing new opportunities to the rural economy. Opportunity for the integrated development of both the ethanol and livestock industries in western Canada exists based on capturing the maximum economic value from the feed co-products of ethanol production.

The economic viability of the ethanol industry will depend on the ability of the industry to derive value both from the ethanol it produces as well as the co-products that are generated from the fermentation process. There are numerous potential markets that can be developed using the co-products of wheat-based ethanol production. Although new products for the human food or industrial processes may develop with time, the only market currently for wheat-based ethanol co-products are the beef and dairy cattle sectors. The Canadian cattle industry is the country’s largest contributor to farm cash receipts, a fact that is presently under threat due to the high Canadian dollar and the rising price of feed grains. As cattle can utilize high-fibre by-product feeds such as distillers’ grains more efficiently than other classes of livestock, this sector is a natural fit in terms of providing a market for this co-product from the ethanol industry. A rough estimate (2008) of the total amount of DDGS produced by all Canadian ethanol plants is 750,000 tonnes. Western Canada is home to more than 4.5 million beef cows (>85% of Canadian total). The vast majority (> 2.7 million) of the calves from these cows are fed and processed in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta with finishing and processing occurring primarily in Alberta (CanFax, 2005). Current estimates of the uptake of DDGS by the livestock industry vary, yet it is clear that there is a large local and regional market for wheat-based DDGS in the beef industry. The hog industry is also a critical market for wheat-based DDGS. Canada produces approximately 30 million pigs a year, with 45% of these in western Canada. Preliminary experiments evaluating wheat DDGS from an older generation ethanol plant in small scale swine and poultry research trials (and one commercial swine feeding trial) have been conducted, but the findings may not be transferable to wheat DDGS from current, state of the art ethanol plants. In order to develop a market for wheat-based DDGS from new generation ethanol production facilities for both cattle and hogs, research is required to optimize the feeding recommendations of this product as a protein and energy supplement, keeping in mind the need to minimize environment impact from overfeeding of nitrogen and phosphorus. Success in developing these livestock feed markets will not only maintain the economic stability of wheat-based ethanol plants, but also help drive the growth of these critical livestock sectors.