Profit Tips: Effect of corn processing on feedlot performance

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Steam flaking corn helps cattle feeders improve digestibility and availability of starch in feedlot rations, and processing corn to lighter densities generally improves digestibility compared with processing to heavier densities. However, energy use and costs go up with the additional processing needed to achieve lighter density in steam-flaked corn. Researchers at Texas Tech University conducted a study comparing steam-flaked corn processed to 22, 26 and 30 pounds per bushel, used in a ration containing wet corn gluten feed (WCGF) at 25 percent of dry matter. The researchers fed 108 yearling steers in 27 four-head pens for an average of 163 days using the three treatments. Varying bulk densities of steam-flaked corn did not affect overall dry-matter intake, average daily gains or feed-per-gain ratio on a live- or carcass-adjusted basis. Dressing percent and ribeye area increased linearly as bulk density increased, but other carcass traits were not affected by treatments. During the trial, the researchers measured dry-matter intake and analyzed manure to measure digestibility of the ration over a five-day period. Starch intake tended to increase at the higher corn densities and digestibility decreased. The researchers concluded that bulk density of steam-flaked corn can be increased up to 30 pounds per bushel in finishing diets containing 25 percent WCGF without affecting cattle performance and with limited effects on rumen fermentation. However, digestibility of starch seemed to be affected negatively by increased bulk density in these diets.



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