By JIM MAURER
A Hancock County farmer has found a valuable use for the byproducts of ethanol production — as cattle feed.
During the process of manufacturing ethanol, which is used as a fuel additive for gasoline, both wet and dried distillers grain are produced as byproducts.
Farmer Cecil Boes uses both as feed for his Holstein dairy beef cattle operation.
Distillers grain is a cereal byproduct of the distillation process, and traditionally came from brewers. The ethanol industry has provided a new source of the high-protein material.
Boes started his cattle operation three years ago and now has about 1,200 steers, which consume about 40,000 pounds a day of wet distillers grain, called “wet cake,” which is combined with corn, hay and soybean hulls.
The farm on Ohio 613, northeast of Findlay, receives a tractor-trailer load of “wet cake” every four days, he said.
The cattle require a high-energy diet to produce 91 percent lean prime choice beef, he said. The “wet cake” includes protein, fat, fiber, and mostly moisture.
Dairy beef calves, which weigh about 100 pounds when brought to Boes’ operation, are first fed a dried distillers grain mixture, which is more expensive than wet distillers grain because of the drying cost.
It takes about 16 months for the calves to grow to about 1,400 pounds and be ready for sale, he said. About 37 cattle are sold weekly.
Without wet distillers grain, “we wouldn’t be here,” Boes said, because the “wet cake” is cheaper than corn.
The business has 12 workers and buildings in northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan.
Boes said he has invested about $3 million in the business over the past three years, including $500,000 in equipment. He said he has done that without tax incentives.
“We’re doing something here that benefits America,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with ethanol in fuel,” he added.
Money spent on ethanol production stays in the U.S., he said.
Additional uses for corn are being developed, and will utilize as much of the plant as possible, Boes said.
“You can get food, fuel and feed from the same source,” he said of corn.
With technological advances in farm machinery, more corn is being produced, Boes said.
“If you can build a better mousetrap, use it,” he said.
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