Mexican poultry and pork producers alike can benefit from utilizing distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their rations. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) conveyed that message and more about the economic and nutritional advantages of the U.S. co-product during a trade team visit to Minnesota and Kansas in July.
The trade team comprised of two different types of Mexican livestock producers - poultry producers who have experience using U.S. DDGS in their rations for a decade or more, and pork producers who currently do not import DDGS due to misperceptions caused by outdated reports and data.
Heidi Bringenberg, USGC assistant director in Mexico, explained that team members needed both fact-checking on the basics of U.S. DDGS and specific trouble-shooting on how best to increase inclusion rates. To fulfill both needs, the team undertook a nutritional short course at the University of Minnesota and had in-person consultations with U.S. farmers and traders as well as nutritionists and marketers from ethanol plants.
“Some Mexican brokers do not always know how DDGS is developed or have ever been to an ethanol plant, so when they are marketing to these customers, they are not able to answer all the questions,” Bringenberg said. “This is why it is so important to have these visits directly to the plant and directly with the farmers using the product.”
During the short course, Dr. Jerry Shurson dispelled erroneous perceptions and tackled technical concerns from the team’s producers, focusing on how to increase inclusion rates up to 30 percent. Later, Bill Drager welcomed the group to his farm in Minnesota Lake, Minnesota, to provide a producer’s perspective on using U.S. DDGS. Drager is currently conducting a DDGS feeding trial and explained the advantages of DDGS as well as why the cheapest ingredient diet does not mean the most economical in terms of energy value.
DDGS is a competitive feed ingredient for Mexican livestock producers, and those producers are a geographically advantageous market for the United States thanks to the variety of transportation options via rail, vessel and truck. Combined with preferential trading terms in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), attractive prices and the Council’s market development efforts, Mexico has purchased nearly 1.69 million metric tons so far in 2016/2017, up nine percent year-over-year.
Even though the country is currently the top destination for U.S. DDGS, Mexico still offers substantial potential to increase demand by providing technical education like that experienced with the recent trade team.
“It is helpful to hear about how U.S. producers gain competitive advantage and, of course, how to optimize their diets,” Bringenberg said. “I finally asked a Mexican producer if he would consider DDGS after what he learned. He said he believes the benefits are clear and, if it could make their product more competitive, he definitely wants to try it.”