Enhanced-oil corn can provide an advantage to cattle feeders, especially those who raise their own grain.

Corn oil contains 2.25 times the energy of an equal unit of starch, and depending on the hybrid, high-oil corn typically contains 50 to 100 percent more oil than typical corn. The higher oil content results from these hybrids producing a larger germ portion of the kernel. The larger germ also contributes to a higher protein content with greater concentrations of essential amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan, methionine, and cystine.

Research trials indicate that enhanced-oil corn offers several benefits. Feedyards can improve daily gains and feed efficiency while they save on the cost of purchasing, storing and blending supplemental fat for their rations.

In addition, research indicates that feeding grain with higher oil content can result in higher dressing percentage, and might produce a higher percentage of Choice carcasses compared with conventional corn with added tallow. This could provide an advantage to producers marketing their cattle on value-based grids, especially when the price spread between Choice and Select carcasses is wide.

Research at Iowa State University has demonstrated potential advantages from using enhanced-oil corn in cattle rations. Researchers allotted 90 head of 950-pound steers to three
treatments, with five pens per treatment. The treatments were Optimum high oil corn, conventional corn, and conventional corn with added fat. Since the high oil corn contained more protein, the researchers added a higher level of soybean meal to the control ration.

Control steers gained faster and more efficiently during the 56 days on feed, but steers on the ration containing enhanced-oil corn compensated during the second 50 days. Over the 107-day trial there were no differences between the groups in average daily gain or feed efficiency.

Based on previous research suggesting short-term response to higher levels of soybean meal in aggressively implanted, fast growing cattle, the researchers speculate that the early advantage for the control group was due to differences in that ingredient.

In this study and others, cattle finished on the rations containing enhanced-oil corn produced a higher percentage of Choice carcasses than control steers. ISU researchers say economic analysis of their study suggests that enhanced-oil corn has a higher value than normal corn ranging from $.05 to $.25 per bushel, depending on the value difference between Choice versus Select carcasses.