Distillery by-products, livestock feed and bio-energy use: report

We commissioned this report in response to concerns by livestock farmers about the impact of anaerobic digestion and bio-energy on the availability of distillery by-product for use as livestock feed in Scotland.

1. Introduction – objectives and approach

1. In response to the growth in Anaerobic Digestion and other forms of bio-energy production in Scotland supported by government targets and issues around rising feed prices following the drought in 2018 the Scottish Government has commissioned SRUC to conduct a study into the quantities of feed stocks being used (such as distillery by-products, energy crops) and the potential impact on the livestock feed situation.

2. UK and Scottish Government carbon reduction targets have led to incentives for renewable energy which in turn have spurred investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy across different sectors of industry. The distilling industry has invested in a range of renewable energy technologies to tackle climate change. The Scottish Government’s proposed Climate Change Bill appears likely to increase Scotland’s carbon reductions since 1990 greenhouse gas emission reduction ambitions by tightening from the current target for 2050 from 80% target to 90% target by 2050 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with an aspiration to move towards net zero emissions.


(i) Distillery by-products supply and demand balances

Building on the previous SRUC research in 2012, undertake a further piece of work to take stock of the current position and any changes that may have occurred in the supply of feed by-product from distilleries and breweries in Scotland and use by farmers against a backdrop of an increased number of AD plants and distilleries in 2018.

(ii) Distillery by products pricing and livestock feeds

Determine changes in the pricing of distillery feed by-products relative to other feeds and how this may have affected use in the livestock sector and any alternative feeds or crops that livestock farmers may have turned to in response.

(iii) Anaerobic digestion and energy crops

Assess the quantities of feedstock and the area of crops being grown for AD plants in Scotland and the potential scale of impact on feed output.

(iv) Feed market factors

Undertake qualitative research, drawing on feedback from SRUC offices, to determine whether there are any other barriers to farmers and crofters accessing distillery by-product markets e.g. possible reluctance amongst farmers/crofters entering into medium/long-term contracts with merchants; availability of other alternative feedstuffs etc.


Email: Gordon.Jackson@gov.scot

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