Flake density and starch retrogradation influence in situ ruminal degradability characteristics of steam-flaked corn and predicted starch digestibility and energetic efficiency

Ronald J Trotta, Kelly K Kreikemeier, Randy F Royle, Todd Milton, David L Harmon

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Five ruminally cannulated steers (body weight = 390 ± 7.86 kg) were used in two experiments to evaluate the effects of flake density and starch retrogradation on in situ ruminal degradation of steam-flaked corn. In experiment 1, sifted flakes with flake densities of 257, 296, 335, 373, and 412 g/L (enzymatic starch availabilities: 87%, 76%, 66%, 43%, and 49%, respectively) were evaluated in a randomized complete block design experiment. In experiment 2, the experimental design was a randomized complete block design with a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Three steam-flaked corn fractions corresponding to different particle sizes were used: flakes + fines (not sifted; >4 and <4 mm), sifted flakes (>4 mm), and sifted fines (<4 mm). Particle size fractions were stored for 3 d at either 23 °C or 55 °C (starch availabilities averaged across particle sizes: 53.3% and 25.5%, respectively) in heat-sealed foil bags. Samples were ruminally incubated for 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 72, or 96 h. Degradation data were modeled to obtain the rate and extent of degradation and passage rate was set to 6% per hour. In experiment 1, the rate of degradation decreased linearly (P < 0.01) and in situ ruminal dry matter (DM) degradability decreased linearly (P < 0.01) from 78.9% to 57.3% as flake density increased from 257 to 412 g/L. In experiment 2, storage of steam-flaked corn samples at 55 °C for 3 d decreased (P < 0.01) the rate of degradation by 37.6% across all particle sizes. Storing samples at 55 °C for 3 d decreased (P < 0.01) in situ ruminal DM degradability of flakes + fines, sifted flakes, and sifted fines by 20.9%, 22.6%, and 14.7%, respectively. Using data from experiment 1 and 2, enzymatic starch availability of sifted flakes was positively correlated (R2 = 0.97; P < 0.01) with in situ ruminal DM degradability. The results demonstrate that decreased starch availability resulting from either starch retrogradation or increased flake density is associated with decreased ruminal digestibility. Decreases in starch availability and in situ ruminal degradability may indicate that increasing flake density or starch retrogradation could potentially alter the site of digestion in cattle. Using prediction equations, decreases in ruminal starch digestibility of steam-flaked corn caused by increasing flake density or increasing starch retrogradation could increase energetic efficiency, depending on the rate of passage and if small intestinal starch digestibility is maintained.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • Animal Feed/analysis
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diet
  • Digestion
  • Food Handling
  • Rumen
  • Starch
  • Steam
  • Zea mays


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