Can I substitute wet brewers grains for part of the corn-oats-barley rotation in finishing steers?
Answer: I foresee no problems with substituting wet brewers grains for one-third of the corn-oats-barley (COB) grain ration you are feeding your finishing steers. The University of Florida published an article titled “Wet Brewers’ Grains for Beef Cattle,” which you should find helpful as it provides a description of how to feed brewers grain and also its nutrient composition. You can access it at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/an241.You mentioned that you are presently feeding your 800-pound steers 20 pounds of hay and seven to eight pounds of COB. As they finish, you are feeding an 1,100-pound steer 10 pounds of COB and approximately 23 pounds of hay. This is well within the limits of a hay-grain finishing ration and it should not cause acidosis.By substituting brewers grains for one-third of the COB ration, you would be replacing about 2.6 pounds of the COB dry matter with brewers grains. Since the brewers grains are approximately 25% dry matter, you would feed 8 pounds X1/3 X 90%/25%= 9.4 pounds of actual Brewers for an 800-pound animal. For simplicity, you could round that up to 10 pounds. This reflects the fact that brewers grains are approximately 25% dry matter as opposed to 90% dry matter for COB. However, brewers grains can vary in moisture content. It is a good idea to have your brewers grains tested by a lab to get the full nutrient analysis. Dry-matter percentage would be one of the test results. This would give you a more accurate adjustment in which to feed the brewers grains. For example, if the dry-matter percentage of brewers grains came back at 30%, you would feed three pounds of it to every one pound of COB (90%/30%=3) substituted. If this were the case, you would only feed 7.8 pounds of brewers grains to the 800-pound steer. As you can see, the amount of moisture in the brewers grains does make a difference in how much you feed. I think that at this rate of substitution, you would not have problems with barley bloat. However, it would be a good idea to make the transition over a week or 10 days. Just add a little more brewers grains to the grain mix every feeding, subtracting out the equivalent amount of COB as you go.To learn more about topics related to livestock production, check out ATTRA’s Livestock and Pasture section at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/livestock/.