Effect of corn processing and wet distiller’s grains with solubles on odorous volatile organic compound emissions from urine and feces of beef cattle

M. J. Spiehs, J. P. Jaderborg, K. E. Hales, Alfredo DiCostanzo, G. I. Crawford, D. B. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Wet distiller’s grains with solubles (WDGS) are a common feed ingredient in beef feedlot diets but the high nitrogen content of these diets creates air quality issues, primarily due to the aromatic compounds emitted during protein fermentation. Use of high moisture corn (HMC) instead of dry-rolled corn (DRC) in cattle feedlot diets has been shown to reduce some odors associated with excess starch in cattle feedlot diets. We hypothesized that using HMC in place of DRC in diets containing WDGS would reduce some of the odors associated with WDGS-DRC diets. A 4 × 4 replicated Latin square with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments was used. Diets contained either DRC or a 2:1 ratio of HMC and DRC, with WDGS at either 25% or 45% of the diet dry matter resulting in four treatments: DRC-25, HMC-25, DRC-45 and HMC-45. Odorous compounds were measured from feces and urine of cattle fed the four diets. Feces from cattle fed diets containing 45% WDGS had a higher flux of p-cresol (9.42 µg m-3 min-1), 4-ethyphenol (0.04 µg m-3 min-1), and total aromatic compounds (13.56 µg m-3 min-1) compared to feces from cattle fed 25% WDGS (3.38, 0.03, and 6.86 µg m-3 min-1, respectively). Corn processing did not influence fecal odor flux. Urinary flux of odorous compounds was largely unaffected by corn processing method and only p-cresol (9.58 µg m-3 min-1), and total aromatic compounds (11.34 µg m-3 min-1) were higher for cattle fed 45% WDGS compared to cattle fed 25% WDGS (7.65 and 9.12 µg m-3 min-1, respectively for p-cresol and total aromatics). Overall there were no significant differences in odor potential, as determined by odor activity value (OAV), for cattle fed diets containing HMC and DRC with either concentration of WDGS. From these results, we interpret that producers may feed diets containing HMC or DRC in combination with WDGS at inclusion rates up to 45% with only minimal impacts of air quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-598
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Engineering in Agriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Beef cattle manure
  • Distiller’s dried grain solubles
  • Dry-rolled corn
  • High-moisture corn
  • Odor
  • Volatile organic compounds

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