Distillers Grains – overview. What is DDGS used for?

Joanna Sikorska
6 min reading
Distillers Grains – overview. What is DDGS used for?
Table of contents
  • Distillers Grains are cereal by-products obtained from barley, wheat or corn in the distillation process of the alcohol industry.
  • They are rich in energy, proteins and minerals.
  • There are two types of Distillers Grains: Wet Distillers Grains (WDG) and Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS).
  • DDGS is often used as a feed additive for cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and fish because of its high nutritional value.

What are Distillers Grains?

 Distillers Grains are grain byproducts that are produced during distillation in the alcohol industry. These grains come from two main sources. Originally, breweries were the traditional suppliers. More recently, however, ethanol biofuel plants have emerged as a growing source. Distillers Grains are primarily produced from barley, wheat or corn. They are rich in energy, protein and minerals, and are therefore often used as a nutritional additive in animal feed.

To make Distillers Grains, the cereal grains are ground and mixed with water. Enzymes are added and the mixture is heated, converting the grain starch into sugar. Then yeast is added and the mixture ferments for a few days. The sugar turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After fermentation, the ethanol is distilled. Distillers Grains are produced from the by-products.

Distillers Grains can have different compositions depending on whether the grain was processed by dry or wet milling before fermentation. When ethanol is distilled, most of the starch is removed, greatly increasing the concentration of other components in Distillers Grains – protein, fiber, fat, phosphorus, and sulfur can be even three times more concentrated in DDGS compared to the original grain.

Do you want to learn more about Distillers Grains? Read our overview below!

Types of Distillers Grains

DIstillers Grains can be divided into two groups:

  • Wet Distillers Grains (WDG) – consist mainly of unfermented grain residues and have a short shelf life due to high moisture content (about 70%), so it must to be stored and utilized promptly;
  • Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS) – these are WDG that have been dried with concentrated thin stillage until they reach a moisture content of 10-12%, and have an almost indefinite shelf life when properly stored.

Distillers Grains uses

Distillers Grains, especially DDGS, have found numerous applications. Due to its high nutritional value, it is mainly used as an additive to feed for cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and fish.

DDGS is a concentrated source of protein, fiber and fat and provides important nutrients to animals. It can contribute to growth, development and overall health. The amino acid profile of DDGS is also beneficial in meeting the nutritional needs of different species. In addition, Distillers Grains are often competitively priced compared to other feed ingredients, making them an economical choice for farmers and producers. The cost effectiveness combined with the nutritional content makes Distillers Grains, especially DDGS, a valuable option for animal nutrition. Do you want to learn more about feed formulation? Check out our article!

Distillers Grains examples

Two prominent examples of Distillers Grains are Corn DDGS and Wheat DDGS. Both have excellent nutritional profiles that make them valuable feeds for livestock and poultry and contribute to sustainable and efficient livestock production systems. Below you will find more information about both.

Distillers Grains - overview. What is DDGS used for?


Corn DDGS is produced by the process of converting corn starch to ethanol. The sugar obtained from this conversion is fermented by yeast, producing ethanol. Once the ethanol is separated, the remaining product undergoes a drying process.

Corn DDGS serves as both an energy and protein supplement. This feed component is also known for its high protein and fiber content. When added to feed, it contributes to balanced nutrition and effective forage compaction. Corn DDGS, after extraction, can be incorporated into compound feeds as a partial substitute for soybean meal without negatively affecting growth indicators, fattening results and meat quality. It can be used in feeds for cattle, pigs and poultry.

Wheat DDGS

Wheat DDGS is produced by distilling a wheat mash during alcohol production. The final product is obtained by drying all the solid remains of this process.

It is rich in protein, so it can be used as a substitute for high-protein feed. Wheat DDGS is primarily used as an ingredient for animal feed, especially for poultry, pigs and cattle.

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