The feed efficiency advantage of steam-flaked corn (SFC) over dry-rolled corn (DRC) was much lower in finishing rations containing 35% wet distillers grains plus solubles (WDGS) than in rations containing no WDGS, according to University of Nebraska research.
Crossbred yearling steers weighing 779 lbs. were used to study the effects of feeding different ratios (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100%) of DRC and SFC in rations containing 35% WDGS on a dry-matter basis. Flake density of the SFC averaged 31.5 lbs./bu. The roughage component of all diets was corn silage and alfalfa hay, and a liquid supplement was fed.
Steers fed 100% SFC had a lower dry matter intake (23.7 vs. 25.6 lbs./day) and similar daily gain compared to steers fed 100% DRC.
In the cattle fed 100% SFC with no WDGS, overall feed to gain (F/G) was improved, while conversion efficiency of the corn grain portion of the diet was enhanced by 12.3% compared to steers fed 100% DRC with no WDGS. This represents a fairly typical response to steam flaking compared to dry rolling.
In contrast, F/G was not different across the two corn processing ratios for the cattle fed 35% WDGS. Conversion efficiency of the corn grain portion of the diet was improved only 4.3% in the cattle fed all SFC with WDGS compared to steers fed all DRC with WDGS.
Dry matter intake (24.2 vs. 25.3 lbs./day), average daily gain (4.38 vs. 4.77 lbs./day), carcass weight (885 vs. 920 lbs.), and USDA Yield Grade (3.6 vs. 3.9) were all greater in the steers fed 35% WDGS compared to cattle fed no WDGS, regardless of the corn-processing method.
Feedlot owners and managers operating steam flakers and feeding high levels of WDGS should evaluate the current cost-benefit comparison of steam flaking corn. Dry rolling may be an attractive alternative.