In this cost-conscious environment, people are considering alternatives to corn as an energy source. Researchers at South Dakota State University have found that dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and soyhulls can be used for that purpose.

In an experiment, cows were fed a common diet for two weeks, then experimental diets for six weeks. Diets contained decreasing concentrations of starch, starting with 29 percent starch and 0 percent DDGS down to 20 percent starch with 21 percent DDGS. Soyhulls were included in a linear fashion along with DDGS to replace soybean meal, which kept a similar crude protein content across diets. Milk production and components were similar across diets.

"Dry matter intake decreased as non-forage fiber replaced starch in the diets," the authors wrote in the March issue of Journal of Dairy Science. "There was a tendency to increase feed efficiency as DMI was decreased at higher nonfiber forage concentrations. Moreover, increased feed efficiency and the replacement of higher-cost starch and protein feedstuffs with lower-cost non-forage fiber and protein feedstuffs decreased diet feed costs. Greater conversion of feed to milk, combined with lower-cost diets, could increase profitability from cows fed diets formulated with greater amounts of non-forage feedstuffs at lower dietary starch concentrations."