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May 8, 2012

K-State research looks at wet corn gluten feed

Parsons, Kansas — Those in attendance at the recent K-State Beef Cattle and Forage Crops Field Day held near Mound Valley, Kansas got the chance to hear not only what was going on at the research center, but also at Manhattan.

Dale Blasi, Extension beef specialist and Anna Siverson, graduate student discussed research on the use of whole corn and wet corn gluten feed in receiving diets that was recently done at the K-State Beef Stocker Unit.

The point of the research, according to Siverson, is the importance of diet challenges with newly arriving calves.

“When calves are received they are under both physiological and psychological stress,” she explained. “That stress impacts how they get on feed and water.”

According to her, when you take into account that these calves may have literally been weaned on diesel smoke, it is hard for them to readapt to consumption of feed.

“Some of the other stresses these young calves may have include inclimate weather and infectious diseases,” she said.

Because of this, she told producers it is important, when receiving calves, to limit stress upon arrival so that they will reconsume feed.

So, where does diet come into play?

“We need to look at a good diet that is cheap to get them to the bunk and limit that stress and disease that may impact them,” Siverson explained. “When it comes to diet’s role in reducing stress it is a matter of introducing feed cautiously, limiting diet variations and preventing sudden ruminal pH changes.”

Siverson began her feed research looking at feeding whole versus rolled corn.

“We wanted to find out if we could feed whole corn to those five- and six-weight calves and cut out the processing cost,” she said.

According to her, research proved that young cattle are able to chew whole corn and do the processing for you.

In addition to cutting the processing cost, there is also an added benefit of getting fiber in the diet.

“We also wanted to look at wet corn gluten feed to see how digestible it was,” she explained.

Siverson’s study consisted of 279 steers weighing right at 500 pounds. They were fed a number of different diets for 60 days. The first 28 days were considered the receiving period and the other 32 days were considered the growing period.

According to her, wet corn gluten feed consists mainly of corn bran which is a source of fermentable fiber and it has a high ruminally degradable protein fraction.

“We also found that when using a diet of wet corn gluten feed mixed with hay it took less pounds of feed to reach a pound of gain,” she explained. “This is money in your pocket.”

Siverson also found that animals receiving wet corn gluten feed were able to digest more than with whole corn, the starch was more utilized and the passage rate was a little higher.

“With the passage rate being higher it allowed them to go back to the bunk and consume more,” she explained.

Overall, Siverson considered the research to be of value for producers receiving cattle.

“We were able to bring in cattle, put them on a diet for 60 days and make it work with wet corn gluten feed,” she said. “In addition to that, we didn’t have to spend the money to process the feed because the cows were doing it for you.”

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