J.W. Schroeder, NDSU Extension dairy specialist, says North Dakota needs to get in on the boom in livestock development that is following the ethanol industry.
Cattle Fax recently predicted that the movement in expanding and establishing new feedlots will be to the north, Schroeder says.
Inquiries from dairy investors suggest they are seeing the same trend. So, if North Dakota wants to be part of this exciting opportunity, now is the time to act."
The reason behind the shift is the price of corn, the availability of distillers grains and the advantage of not having to dry the distillers grains.
"The cost of drying distillers grains is high," Schroeder says. "The more DDGS consumed locally, the more it can be a win-win situation for the plant and for the cattle producer. A 50-million gallon ethanol plant uses approximately 18.5 million bushels of corn and yields 315 million pounds of distillers grains. If dairy cattle were fed 20 percent of their diet in distillers grains either as dry distillers grains (13 pounds per day) or wet distillers grains (approximately 40 pounds per day), a single plant could produce enough feed for roughly 60,000 dairy cattle."
Projected figures for North Dakota distillers grains production are approximately 489 million gallons per year - enough to feed more than 10 times the current number of dairy cattle in North Dakota (upward of 589,000 head).
"We have the capacity, the resources and the environment. All we need is more infrastructure," he says.
The stakes are high.
"A 100-million gallon ethanol plant will employ approximately 80 people and use 37 million bushels of corn, Schroeder says. The same 37 million bushels would feed 120,000 head of dairy cattle and employ more than 800 people," he says.
NDSU Extension Communications