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Corn is one of the major ingredients in any cattle feed, but did you know it can be processed and fed in different ways? The reason for these different approaches goes back to corn’s high starch content which is embedded in a matrix of protein. The goal is to make the starch more digestible and to make protein more accessible for digestion.

Two common process methods are steam rolling corn and grinding corn into floury corn grain. A third process is steam flaking corn which is achieved by steaming corn grain for up to an hour for more than 200°F and then flaking it to a density of around 27 pounds/bushel. Steaming adds moisture and softens the grain to improve starch digestibility by inducing starch gelatinization. The flaking improves digestibility by maximizing the corn’s surface area to rumen microbes.

Several studies have proven the benefits of steam flaking corn. A 12-week trial performed by Dr. Richard Zinn revealed an increased average daily gain by 6.3% compared to dry rolling corn. Other studies found that feeding steam flaked corn increases ruminal and total tract starch digestion by 10%. It additionally increases the net energy value of corn for gain by around 15%. The increase in net energy value then results in a 10% increase in total digestible nutrients. Not only does steam flaking corn help cattle digest starch, it also helps digest non-starch organic matter.  

Because High Choice Feeders is committed to maximizing gain, using steam flaked corn is just one of the many components in our Strategy for Success. Just as nutritionists specialize in human diets, our cattle nutritionists deploy science-based analyses in developing nutritious and digestible diets to assure the cattle’s health and well-being. Check out the following sources for more information on the impact of different corn processing methods on feedlot cattle performance: