Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

Winter 12-17-2014


Burken, D. B., 2014. New approaches to corn silage use in beef cattle finishing diets. Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Galen E. Erickson. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2014

Copyright 2014 DIrk B. Burken


Cattle feeders are considering alternative feedstuffs to replace expensive corn grain and decrease rations costs. Feeding corn silage allows cattle feeders to take advantage of the entire corn plant at a time of maximum quality and tonnage as well as secure substantial quantities of roughage and grain inventory. Distiller’s grains have proven to be economical and are now a commonplace ingredient in feedlot finishing diets. Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of feeding increased concentrations of corn silage in replacement of corn grain in finishing diets containing distillers grains. Feedlot gains and gain:feed ratios were reduced as corn silage increased in the diet. Total tract dry matter digestibility of diets containing 45% corn silage was decreased compared to diets containing 15% corn silage. Although total tract neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration was not different across corn silage inclusions, in-situ NDF disappearance of corn bran was greater for diets with increased corn silage inclusion. Whole corn plants were sampled and analyzed for two consecutive years for determination of the effects on whole corn plant yield and quality measurements due to hybrid season length, planting density, and whole plant harvest timing. As whole plants were harvested later in the season, yield increased with minimal changes in whole plant quality measures. The economic factors involved in pricing corn silage were assessed, and different economic scenarios were developed for feeding corn silage in finishing diets containing distillers grains. Feeding increased concentrations of corn silage in finishing diets containing distillers grains was determined economical when corn grain price was above $163.38 per metric tonne. As well, as corn grain price and the inclusion of corn silage in the diet increased, reducing corn silage shrink and harvesting corn silage at higher DM contents became more economically beneficial. These data demonstrate that corn silage can economically replace corn grain in finishing diets containing distillers grains.

Adviser: Galen E. Erickson

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