A newly released survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the livestock industry is increasingly embracing distillers grains as a source of nutrition, the National Corn Growers Association says.

Roughly half of the cattle and hog operations in a 12-state region either fed ethanol co-products or considered feeding them to their livestock last year, according to the report published by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service with the support and funding of the Nebraska Corn Board.

NCGA assisted in the structuring and content development of the survey.

“There's very little good market information on how and where distillers grains are being used,” says Geoff Cooper, NCGA director of Ethanol and Business Development.

“This survey draws from a large sample of the Midwest and Great Plains livestock industry.

“The results provide good insight into the industry's attitudes toward distillers grains, as well as feeding and procurement practices.”

NASS contacted approximately 9,400 livestock operations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Cooper said a key finding of the survey is that many livestock operators are still undecided about using distillers grains. About one-third of cattle and hog producers and more than one-fifth of dairy cattle operations have considered feeding coproducts, but are not now using them.

“This means the industry has an incredible opportunity to reach out to these undecided operators and provide them the information they need to make sound decisions about the use of distillers grains in their businesses,” Cooper said.

Quality and price were rated the most important characteristics for co-products by users, with consistent protein levels and product availability also rating as top considerations.