Light test-weight corn can be useful feedstuff

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 2, 2008
Light test-weight corn can be useful feedstuff

In some parts of North Dakota, corn test weight has been reduced as a result of a lack of maturity and cooler growing conditions throughout the summer.

“This light-weight corn still can be a very useful feedstuff,” says Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

NDSU conducted a series of studies following the 2004 growing season to test the effect of feeding light testweight corn to cattle.

“If you recall, 2004 was marked by very cool weather during the growing season and corn was very immature at harvest time,” Lardy says. “In those studies, corn as light as 39 pounds per bushel was used in research with growing and finishing steers.”

Results of those tests indicated that the light testweight corn had a lower energy content than normal test-weight corn (54 pounds per bushel), but cattle fed the light test-weight corn gained at a similar rate as those fed normal test-weight corn.

However, to compensate for the lower energy in the light test-weight corn, cattle consumed more feed, resulting in poorer feed conversion ratios for the cattle fed the light test-weight corn. Cattle fed corn weighing 47 pounds per bushel also had similar gains but poorer feed conversion ratios compared with the cattle fed 54 pounds per bushel of corn. In many cases, immature corn has a higher moisture content, making storage in conventional grain bins more problematic. In addition, the high price of propane may not make drying economical.

High-moisture corn (greater than 26 percent moisture) can be stored in a bunker silo or plastic silage bags if you are planning on feeding it to ruminant livestock, Lardy says. The corn will ferment or ensile during the storage process. As long as proper silage-making techniques, such as excluding oxygen and proper packing, are followed, little storage loss will be encountered.