Latest Information on Sulfur in Cattle Diets

January 4, 2011 10:58 PM

As corn and other grain prices continue to rise, cattle producers seek ways to maximize economic and production efficiencies in their operations. One way to deal with increasing corn prices is to feed less corn and more distillers grains. However, producers and scientists alike know that the amount of distillers grains that can be fed safely depends on the sulfur level in feed and drinking water. Recent research by Iowa State University (ISU) and University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) faculty members has provided some welcome news in this area.

Dan Loy, interim director of the Iowa Beef Center at ISU, said scientists from the two universities have worked together to evaluate their independent study results and determine how those results can be used to the best advantage by cattle producers.

The information and recommendations will be shared through a Web-based program beginning at 7 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2011. The Web address for the program is

“ISU folks have worked on developing a model for sulfur toxicity in cattle, so we can study the effects of elevated dietary sulfur on animals,” Loy said. “At UNL, research over the past several years has included feeding trials of varying levels of sulfur and distillers grains with thousands of cattle.”

Loy said UNL beef specialist Galen Erickson and others are cooperating to share findings of the independent studies they’ve done and to offer new dietary recommendations for producers. Erickson said the updated recommendations on sulfur inclusion rates might surprise some people.

“We’re prepared to recommend higher levels of dietary sulfur, and therefore higher levels of distillers grains, than producers are used to working with,” Erickson said. “Because of these higher levels, we also are incorporating slightly different management guidelines that include proper diet and feed bunk management.”

In addition to Erickson, ISU beef nutrition specialists Stephanie Hansen and Mary Drewnoski will present research-specific information and recommendations, and Steve Ensley of ISU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Lab will answer participant questions on sulfur toxicity diagnosis and treatment.

“There’s no cost to participate in the web program, but it is important to check your computer system prior to attempting to connect to this program,” Loy said. “We want everyone to be able to connect to the site without difficulty.”

To test your system, go here and follow the directions on the page.


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