DDGS Grow Cattle Feeding in Nebraska
DDGS Make Nebraska The Fed Cattle Kings
You may not realize it, but in February of this year Nebraska became
the number one cattle feeding state in the US, passing Texas for the
first time since the 1970’s.
Drought-ravaged pastures in the southern
Plains have added to the declining cattle herd numbers in general.
Traditional cattle country across Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma have
been especially hard hit, with grazing land exhausted and ponds drying
up. Texas alone has seen its cattle herd shrink 24% since 2010.
Plummeting cattle numbers have left feedlots and packing plants across
the region no choice but to close their doors. The drought has also
forced producers to pull cattle out of the field earlier than normal,
and feedlots to the north are increasingly becoming their next stop
before they go to slaughter.
One advantage that Nebraska and other
Midwestern states have is an abundance of dried distillers grains, or
DDGS, a by-product of ethanol production. As one of the country’s top
corn growing states, Nebraska has been a big draw for ethanol
producers. With about ⅓ of every bushel of corn used for ethanol
production coming back as distillers grains, feedlots in their area
have a plentiful supply.
Montana, South Dakota and Iowa have also seen a
rise in their fed cattle numbers for the exact same reasons. Even when
the drought breaks and the pastures on the Plains are revived,
industry experts don’t believe the trend to fatten cattle in the north
will change. That’s where the DDGS are being made, and they point out
it is far more economical to take the cattle to the feed rather the