Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in 2011 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. Published by the Agricultural Research Division, University of Nebraska Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright © 2011 The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska.


Two experiments were conducted to evaluate factors affecting crop residue digestibility. Corn stover, corn cobs, and wheat straw were alkaline treated at low (35%) or high (50%) moisture and then anaerobically stored at 30 °C or 40 °C. Chemical treatment increased in vitro DM digestibility of all residues by 14 to 21 percentage units (35% to 62% improvement). Samples stored at 50% DM and 40oC were most digestible. Cobs were inherently more digestible than straw or corn stalks. Percentage of total improvement in DM digestibility by optimizing DM, ambient temperature, and chemical treatment was: stalks, 43%; wheat straw, 38%;, and cobs, 34%. Digestibility of low quality crop residues can be improved markedly by chemical treatment.