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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


How to Feed Cattle More Distillers Grains: OARDC Names Krauss Award Winner

April 27, 2012

WOOSTER, Ohio — Tara Felix, who last year earned her Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition from Ohio State University’s Department of Animal Sciences, yesterday (4/26) received the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) William E. Krauss Director’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research. The award honors the best published paper by an OARDC-supported doctoral student. The center is part of Ohio State.

Now an assistant professor in the University of Illinois’ Department of Animal Sciences, Felix wrote “Effects of Haylage and Monensin Supplementation on Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Ruminal Metabolism of Feedlot Cattle Fed Diets Containing 60% Dried Distillers Grains,” which appeared last year in the Journal of Animal Sciences.

Her paper showed “that (cattle) diets with a high inclusion rate of distillers grains can be safely and efficiently fed if forage and monensin (a common cattle antibiotic) are used in the diets,” a nominator wrote. “This will allow increased use of distillers grains, which will reduce the cost of feeding beef cattle.”

Distillers grains are a cereal byproduct of distilleries and, more recently, of ethanol production. They have seen growing use in cattle feed due to their abundance from ethanol production and their lower cost compared to grains such as corn. But until now, their use has been limited generally to less than 40 percent of cattle diets because of concern about possible toxic sulfur levels.

Felix’s study, however, found “that sulfur is not the problem but rather it is the overall acidity of distillers grains -- substantial acid is added during the fermentation and cleaning processes -- and we have well-known nutritional modifications that can be applied to reduce problems associated with feed acidity,” a nominator explained.

Since Felix presented her findings, a multi-university/industry collaboration has been formed in the Midwest and Plains to discover the best ways to neutralize the acidity of distillers grains and increase their use in cattle diets, another nominator noted.

Felix “is one of the most ambitious, hardest-working students I have had at Ohio State,” the same nominator said. “I have found that scientific creativity is largely a gift. It’s very difficult to teach. Tara has that gift.”

Her advisor was Steve Loerch, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Animal Sciences.

In addition to her doctorate, Felix holds a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in animal bioscience from Pennsylvania State University.

The award carries with it $1,000 and a framed copy of the published paper. OARDC Director Steve Slack presented the award during a ceremony at the center’s annual research conference in Wooster.

The members of the selection committee were OARDC scientists Chang Won Lee (chair), Mike Ellis, Peter Ling, Jeff Sharp and David Benfield (ex-officio).

In addition to Slack, the speakers at the conference included John Oliver, president of Maple Leaf Bio-Concepts, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Brian Cummings, Ohio State’s vice president for technology commercialization and knowledge transfer; and Bobby Moser, Ohio State’s executive vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

OARDC is the research arm of CFAES and is the largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the U.S. The center works not just on food and farming but also, for example, on biofuels, bioproducts, health, nutrition, sustainability and the environment.

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Kurt Knebusch
Steve Slack