Using the fuel crisis to relieve the drought: an evaluation of distillers grains as an environmentally sustainable ruminant feed


The production of ethanol from cereal grains is not a new process and the resulting by-product, dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have been included in ruminant rations for many years.  Ethanol was the fuel of choice for the Ford Model T in the early 1900s and research utilizing distillers grains is recorded as early as 1894.  However gasoline was cheap then; today the prices of crude oil are increasing significantly and research is developing new substitute, renewable fuel sources.  Over the past 10 years, over 100 ethanol distillation plants have been built in the Midwestern USA to increase renewable bio-ethanol production.Ethanol production requires the fermentation of starch; therefore, with the starch removed the DDGS by-product is a concentrated feedstuff of the parent cereal grain.  As a result, DDGS is high in protein, digestible neutral detergent fibre and some minerals such as phosphorus and sulphur.  The objectives of this project are to determine the effect replacing grain and or fibre source in the diet with dry distillers’ grains with solubles on:

    • Apparent digestibility and nutrient excretion in ruminants fed concentrate diets;
    • Feed intake, gain, feed efficiency, and carcass yields in lambs as well as beef cattle fed concentrate diets;
    • Identification of the level of DDGS which may replace dietary components in the ruminant diets and verify lamb/cattle performance and sustainability.


Dr Alex Chaves

Research Location

Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Program Type



Similar to the bio-diesel project, the DDGS project will be implemented with the long term vision of self-sustaining production of renewable energy, with by-products used to improve ruminant performance.  The research findings from this project will provide the primary and energy sectors with new information on the potential sustainable use of DDGS for livestock production and the resulting impact of feeding by-products on ruminal ecology and fermentation when using these by-products for feed. 

Additional Information

  • Eligibility criteria: discussed on individual basis.
  • Opportunity to travel overseas (Canada) and work with a multidisciplinary team.
  • Scholarship is not included so students who already have funding/or are applying for an APA have a greater chance with this opportunity.
  • Opportunity available for Honours, Masters, and PhD students.
 Additional supervisors include: 
  • Drs Tim McAllister and Darryl Gibb - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, AB, Canada  
  • Dr Masahito Oba - The Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science (AFNS) at the University of Alberta
  • PhD Candidate: Jorge Avila Stagno, Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney
  • Master Candidates: Adele O'Hara, Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney
  • Masters degrees completed:  Kris Wierenga and Lisa Mckeown - University of Alberta, Edmonton (AB), Canada
  • Honours completed: Alice Tanner – The University of Sydney, Sydney (NSW), Australia

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Industry by-products, ruminant nutrition, animal performance, carcass evaluation, meat/milk quality, sustainable production systems

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 768

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