Researchers at Purdue University have determined the amount of metabolizable energy available to young broiler chickens from dried corn distillers grains, DDG, and dried corn distillers grains with solubles, DDGS.

Currently, more than 35 percent of the annual U.S. corn crop is being used for ethanol production, resulting in less and more expensive corn for use in diets for poultry and other livestock. As a result, poultry growers have turned to DDG and, more often, DDGS, both byproducts of the ethanol production process, to provide an economically affordable substitute. The challenge, say researchers, has been to accurately determine the energy content of these fermentation byproducts.

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“The energy and nutrients of different components of the feed are extracted at different parts of the bird’s digestive tract, and not all of the energy in the feed is actually available to the bird," said Dr. Layi Adeola, the final article’s lead author and a professor in Purdue’s Department of Animal Sciences. "For example, when feed moves from the ileum to the cecum and large intestine, microbes in the gut will extract a significant portion of the nutrients for their own energy needs. It turns out that the most accurate measure of the energy in DDG and DDGS available to the bird is the 'ileal digestible energy' or IDE, most of which can be utilized by the animal. Hence, determining the IDE value was the focus of our research.”

The DDG and DDGS were incorporated into a corn-soybean meal-based reference diet at three levels (0, 300 or 600 g/kg) by replacing the energy-yielding ingredients. The five diets were fed to 120 male Ross 308 broilers.