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Corn by-products are becoming more available in range country as more corn is used for ethanol and other products. Ethanol plants have increased dramatically in the past five years and many more plants are being planned and are going into production each year. Many of the plants are being constructed in areas where corn production is very high and yet large numbers of cattle are fed in relative close proximity of the corn processing plants. Because of the cost of drying it is more economical to feed the by-product wet, however because of limited cattle in close proximity of the plants plus often feedlots have fewer cattle on feed during the summer, it is necessary to dry the by-products and this becomes available in range country as a commodity. In most range country winter forage is low in protein which needs supplemented and often times energy supplementation is needed also. Because corn by-products are relatively high in both protein, energy and phosphorus it makes an ideal range supplement. Also because all of the starch has been removed, negative effect on forage digestion is not lowered as is the case when grain supplements, that are high in starch, are fed with low quality high roughage rations.
There are two primary types of corn milling processes where by-products are available and they are quite different products. A process that is referred to, as “dry milling” is what the ethanol industry uses and the largest by-product is distillers grains or distillers grains plus solubles. The other less common process is referred to as “wet milling” and produces corn syrup, oil and starch. The by-product form the wet milling plants that interests most cattlemen is corn gluten feed. The corn gluten feed usually contains the corn bran and the solubles or “steep” and sometimes some high protein gluten depending on the processing plant.