Best ways to use high-moisture corn
By Jackie Buckley
Morton County Extension agent
Dates to remember
Dec. 30 – Livestock Judging Workout Ellingson Angus, 1 p.m.
Jan. 6 – 4-H/FFA Livestock and Crops Judging Workout, Mandan High School, 7:30 p.m.
Harvesting, storing, feeding high-moisture corn
What is high-moisture corn? It is corn harvested at 24 percent or greater moisture, stored and allowed to ferment in a silo or other storage structure, and used for livestock feed.
High-moisture corn should be harvested at 24 to 33 percent moisture for optimum storage (maximum moisture of 40 percent). Harvesting corn at this high moisture content may require adjustments to harvest equipment to ensure the grain is removed from the cob uniformly.
High-moisture corn should be processed (ground or rolled) prior to storage. Grinding or rolling and subsequent packing of the corn facilitates oxygen exclusion in the silo. The goal with processing should be to have no more that 5 percent fines and no more than 5 percent whole kernels. For feeding purposes rolling is the preferred method of processing because rolling will result in less fines and lower probability of acidosis due to rapid fermentation when feeding.
At moisture levels below 27 percent, water may need to be added to facilitate packing and fermentation. A good rule of thumb is to add 3.5 gallons of water per ton of corn for each percentage point the corn is below 27 percent moisture. A minimum density of 45 pounds of dry matter per cubic foot is desirable for good-quality high-moisture corn. Packing grain in bunker silos can be dangerous so be sure an experienced and safe tractor operator is operating the packing equipment. All trench, bunker and pile structures should be covered with plastic to create an anaerobic environment and minimize spoilage.
Lactic acid bacteria inoculants that have been developed specifically for high-moisture corn should be considered when the corn has been frozen or is harvested below the optimal moisture content. Use of acid preservatives may be warranted if ear mold damage has occurred and mycotoxin production is prevalent in the standing crop.
The energy content of high-moisture corn is similar to dry-rolled corn. However, high-moisture corn has higher ruminal and total tract digestion than dry-rolled corn. Proper bunk management is necessary when feeding high-moisture corn. This includes thorough mixing of all ingredients, feeding at the same time each day, adjusting feed delivered to intake of the animals, and observing cattle for signs of acidosis or feed refusal.
Immature corn may be harvested effectively as high-moisture corn for feed. Research at NDSU indicates light-test-weight immature corn harvested and fed produced equal performance as mature corn grain in feedlot steers.
Taken from the NDSU Bulletin AS-1484.