Spent Grain for Livestock Feed

Turn brewers' spent grains into filling and nutritious livestock feed.

  • Research local breweries and offer to haul some of their spent grains away.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/ClarkandCompany
  • Chickens will appreciate a treat of spent grains.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/koldunova
  • Spent grains should be fed as a feed supplement, not as a feed replacement.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/emholk
  • Gleaming tanks facilitate the fermenting process.
    Photo by Fotolia/Alexey Repka
  • Hot spent grains are ready to be taken away.
    Photo by Chris Colby
  • Steaming hot spent grains are shoveled from the fermenter into a plastic barrel, ready to be hauled off to a local farm.
    Photo by Chris Colby
  • Learn how to turn spent brewers grains into nutritious livestock feed.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/MoreISO

Back in the mid 1990s, during a visit to my hometown, I stopped by the Sioux Falls Brewery to try their beers. As a home brewer, I was keen to glean any information about their beers and brewing process that I could. However, something else on their menu caught my eye – the burgers.

The brewery’s burgers were made of beef from a local farm, and the cattle were fed spent grains donated to the farm from the brewery. What a great idea, I thought. The brewery doesn’t have to pay to send their spent grains to a landfill, and the farmer gets free food for his livestock.

The Sioux Falls Brewery is gone now, but with the increase in the number of brewpubs and small breweries in the United States, the practice of farmers supplementing their feed with brewery spent grains (BSG) is growing.

Locating a source

Spent grains are the major waste product of the brewing process, about 85 percent of total brewery waste. Most breweries brew several times a week – if not daily – year-round, and spent grains are continuously generated. If the brewer has no way to get rid of them, he must pay for their disposal. On the other hand, if a local farmer is willing to pick them up, many brewers are happy to donate the spent grains, which can be used as animal feed. In areas of high demand for animal feed, breweries may charge a small fee.

Spent grains can often be obtained for the cost of hauling them away from the brewery. A University of Florida publication estimated that using spent grain for a portion of a farm’s animal feed made sense economically if the brewery was within 200 miles. The Brewers Association website has a feature that lets you search for breweries in any state in the U.S. or in any country.

Barley is the most abundant grain in all major styles of beer, although many beers have substantial amounts of maize, rice, wheat, or other grains. American-style Pilsners, for example, are brewed with 30 to 40 percent corn, rice, or a mixture of the two grains.

2/25/2018 1:58:19 PM

For Diary Cattle How much of percentage of total feed(SBG) can be used in total in LB(of 10-15% moisture content)? Sam Small Diary Farmer(McKinney,TX)

1/8/2018 12:46:46 PM

can I feed this to my goats?

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters