View Full Version : spent grains

01-18-2005, 02:21 PM
Does anyone know of a website or a publication listing the nutritional value of spent brewers grains as a cattle feed. I have contacted a few local farms to see if they were interested in free cattle feed and they would like to see some info on the subject.

on the same topic, what percentage of the weight of "well" lautered and drained spent grain is water weight, and what percent is actual feed?


Diamond Knot
01-18-2005, 04:10 PM
If you can get yoru hands on a copy of "The Practical Brewer", I read a section in there that had a nutritional analysis and recommendation for how much of the grain, as a percentage, can make up their diet.

Why does the number 19% stick in my head? We've had more than one farmer complain that "we killed his cow" when it bloated and passed on. He was feeding it 100% spent grains.

A local animal Vet used by farmers could be of help as well.

01-18-2005, 04:50 PM
Hello Scott. The National Academies Press includes the nutrient values for "Spent Brewers Grains" in several of their publications (under the feed composition sections) including in the "Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle" published in 2000. You can access the page with information about the macro nutrients in spent grains online at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309069343/html/136.html
and the information about the micro-nutrients in spent grains at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309069343/html/137.html#pagetop

As the chart notes, spent grains contain a good amount of crude protein as well as a decent amount of energy for cattle. You can also look up other feedstuffs (corn, barley, etc.) to get an idea of how spent grains compare to other feedstuffs common for cattle. When comparing values, be sure to compare them on a dry weight basis (the only listing available for spent brewers grains).

I suppose the amount of water weight in spent grains would vary (slightly) by system (I seem to recall that there is a value somewhere in Hough, Briggs, Stevens, and Young). An easy way to determine it on your system would be to take 100 grams of wet grain, put it in an oven at ~215 F (so water will evaporate, but not much else will) for 12 to 24 hours and reweigh the sample. That should give you a dry weight that you can divide by 100 (the original wet weight of the sample) to determine percent of your spent grains that are acutal non-water feed.

As an aside, we have been able to sell our spent grains to a local buffalo farmer for the past six years. We tie the price to what a similar protein supplement for his cows would cost. We don't have a large supply of grain (we produced about 4000 bbl of beer last year), but it is consistent, allowing him to plan his feeding program around our supply. Needless to say, everyone involved is happy with the arrangement.

Best of luck.


Diamond Knot
01-18-2005, 05:15 PM
That's too cool, Andrew!
With the number of Breweries up here in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, many of the Breweries give their grains away and have to also pay to truck it there with their own trucks.

Thanks for the links.

Alex T
01-19-2005, 03:53 AM

killed one of his cows???? if a cow eat un-mashed malt it (apparently) has a bad reaction that will kill a cow in extreme cases (not sure of the correct term!). Assure your farmer that no un-mashed malt will be included in the spent grain.



01-19-2005, 05:57 AM
Farmers I've dealt with previously had 10 head and were mixing in some molasses, and flaked barley to the mash for better results. My current farmer has 60 head, and we have 2-4 batches per week with approx. 150 kg's mashed malt. So we're just supplimenting them.

The steaks are beutiful!

Also, they prefer to know if I'm doing anything wacky - Roggenbier, Wit (with lots of oat hulls), as the previous brewer here did a hemp beer that they couldn't use the feed from. Mash hopping and/or whirlpool trub (spent hops) are strictly out of the question.

Once the cattle know what the mash is, they've been known to run after the truck when it shows up to feed them. During my brewhouse tours I refer to them as Happy Bushwakker Cows.

Bushwakker Brewing Co.

01-19-2005, 08:24 AM
Thank you all for your help. That was just what I was looking for. I am sure the farmers will appreciate it as well.


01-20-2005, 09:36 AM
You might check with a University that has a good animal husbandry program.

Sir Brewsalot
01-21-2005, 08:50 PM
So, Oat hulls are objectionable to cattle? That's good to know. Is it a health concern, or just a matter of taste?

How about rice hulls?

(a different) Scott

01-22-2005, 04:07 AM
While large amounts of processed oat hulls may not be a good thing to feed to cattle, the amount included in a mash will likely have no influence on digestion. Oat hulls are mostly fiber and have a low digestibility. In some cases, where large amounts of processed oat hulls are fed, they can result in intestinal impaction concerns. In many preprepared mixed animal (including cattle) feeds grain hulls (oat, rice, etc.) are included as a builder and source of fiber.

In the US, county agricultural extension agents are more than willing to help with these type of questions. Or, as brewmoneky suggested, contact a beef cattle nutritionist at the Animal Sciences department at your state's land grant college (Cornell in NY, Penn State in PA, Washington State in WA). These people are often more than willing to help and may provide some suggestions on what can and cannot be included with spent grains (high levels of yeast can be toxic to cattle).

In case anyone was wondering, I am a former (and future?) animal nutritionist and have been involved with spent grains on the animal feed side as well as on the brewing side.


01-25-2005, 02:19 PM
Looking through my Siebel notes I came across the following information. These numbers are % dry basis.

Crude Protein 27%
Ether Extract (fat) 6.5%
Ash 4.8 %
Crude Fiber 15%
Nitrogen Free Extract 46.7%

For Feed Value, the amino acids breakdown in the following manner (percent of crude protein). Arginine (5.1), Cysteine (1.2), Glycine (4.4), Histidine (2.3), Isolucine (5.6), Leucine (9.8), Lysine (3.6), Methionine (1.8), Phenylalnine (5.6), Proline (4.4), Serine (5.2), Threonine (3.9), Tryptophan (1.4), Tryosine (4.5) and Valine (6.4).

All these numbers come from the lecture notes of Art Rehberger.

The farmer that picked up our spent grains at my last job used them to enhance the protein content of his normal feed. He used a dairy nutritionist to determine what was the optimal amount to mix in with his grains. It worked well because he had the highest milk per cow output in the county.

Hope this helps.


01-25-2005, 02:34 PM
I'm confused......if I buy malt with 11-13% total protein in it, how could I posibly have 27% protien in my spent grain?

01-25-2005, 03:49 PM
Probably because when you mash, you extract relatively more non-protein materials than protein from the malt, thereby concentrating (i.e. raising) the remaining portion of protein in the spent grains.

01-25-2005, 07:53 PM
Look on page 299 of the Jean De Clerck book "A textbook of brewing" for spent grain nutritional value and some associated information.

Anyone in Washington have a farmer looking for grain? Plenty for grabs in Redmond, our farmer "quit".

Beaux Bowman
Far West Brewing

Diamond Knot
01-25-2005, 08:53 PM
Originally posted by beauxman
Look on page 299 of the Jean De Clerck book "A textbook of brewing" for spent grain nutritional value and some associated information.

Anyone in Washington have a farmer looking for grain? Plenty for grabs in Redmond, our farmer "quit".

Beaux Bowman
Far West Brewing

Welcome to my world, Beaux! You might want to calla round to the various other Breweries in our area......Mac & Jack, Pyramid, etc., and find out where they're taking their grains.

Good luck! Good Stout, by the way.

See you around.

01-25-2005, 11:38 PM
I was just letting you know that as a small brewer we sell our spent grain at about $.30 per bushel. Its more of a token than anything. We have about 30 farmers who rotate taking about 8 bushels each of spent grain every other day (15/day) and we have a waiting list of at least a dozen to get in the rotation. If you live in a rural area spent grain is like gold. Its very nutritional and the farmers love it.

P.S. Make good relations with those farmers because in hay season they sure do drink a lot of our beer, and well, the rest of the year too.

01-27-2005, 10:36 PM
Thanks Brian, already tried that route, ended up having to take the grain out in the van at the end of the brew day to the farm that Mac and Jack dump their grain. Would be nice to have a dumptruck. Funny stuff lives on the farm that does not mix well with brewer boots. You guys that get to sell your grain have it made!

Thanks for the kind words on the stout, we do our best!


01-28-2005, 04:56 AM
I have used the local paper with a ad in the livestock feed section. Farmers/Ranchers always read them for some bargins. What else do they have to do? Bewary of partime farmers not as puncual as real farmers(full time or retired is good also). They can be fed to cattel, hogs and chickens with no problems. My cousin used to feed his chickens with it and would get good egg production even in the winter!

08-05-2005, 02:00 AM

it contains a detailed (general) nutritional description of spent grains, used for by-feed of cows... Brewing is UK style though, could be a bit different than US style... :cool: