Feeding Cattle a Feed Rich in Starch

cattle feed high in starch

One of the most popular feeding choices for cattle is a feed rich in starch. Although this may not sound like the best choice for all cattle, cows need energy to function properly. The good news is that most cattle feeds contain high amounts of starch. Here’s how to select the right one for your cattle. A good example of a feed rich in starch is SugaRich Dairy. If you want to increase the amount of starch your cattle receives, you can select a feed containing SugaRich or SweetStarch. You can also use corn silage.

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SugaRich Dairy or SweetStarch feeds

Starch is an important component of the diet of dairy cattle. Dietary starch levels vary widely among cattle, ranging from less than 20% to more than 35%. Most of the starch in the diet comes from cereal grains, which have a range of 45% for oats to 72% for corn. Forages also vary in starch content, with alfalfa having less than 15% of DM while perennial grasses may contain up to 35% of DM. Starch content in cattle feeds depends on the rate of fermentation of the feed particle and its retention time in the rumen.

However, feeding these cattle feeds with high starch content may decrease the efficiency of feed consumption and contribute to the risk of subacute ruminal acidosis. In addition, the feeds may contain too much lignin, which will decrease the efficiency of the digestive process. The cost-effectiveness of SugaRich Dairy or SweetStarch cattle feeds depends on the level of starch in the ration.

Corn silage

The production of cow/calf in North America follows an annual cycle: the cow is at midgestation, the calf is in lactation, and the cow is in late gestation, which is the optimal time to supplement their diets with corn silage. Cows are typically confined to pens during this time and are “bunked fed.” However, feeding high starch corn silage to a herd in late gestation may not be the best practice, as the animals may not be as responsive to a low-quality diet.

As corn plants dry, the digestibility of fibre decreases. The starch content rises dramatically. As the plant dries, the production of starch increases significantly. As a result, ration composition changes should be gradual. A nutritionist can help you formulate the correct balance of starch and NDF in rations for multiple years. Moreover, the silage should be harvested at the right moisture content, otherwise it may lose nutrients and develop molds.


A new study suggests that feeding HMC to dairy cows improves the utilization of starch in the rumen and liver. This study was conducted with ninety-nine yearling steers that were stratified based on their initial body weight. Diets included either HMC or 75% HMC blended with 25% SFC. Cattle were fed both diets for 168 days, and the results showed no differences in carcass weight, initial BW, ribeye area, or marbling score.

The grind of HMC can be fine or coarse, depending on the DM content. The higher the DM content, the finer the grind should be. Harvested too dry creates problems for ensiling, aerobic stability, and starch utilization. Typical analytical values of HMC and corn silage are given in Table 1. The content of crude protein and NDF are similar among farm-stored high-moisture grain products. However, percent NDF is a useful indicator to distinguish different products.

Nonfiber CHO

Increasing the amount of nonfiber CHO in a cattle diet can have several implications. One is the increased risk of developing ruminal acidosis. Another is the potential for increased starch fermentation. To reduce the risk of ruminal acidosis, feeds that are high in starch should be reevaluated periodically to monitor the level of fermentable carbohydrate and fiber in the ration.

Although the major site for starch digestion in rumin-fed dairy cows, some of the starch in these rations is bypassed by the rumen and becomes available for digestion in the post-ruminal tract. Therefore, increasing the amount of post-ruminally digested starch in cattle feeds can increase feed efficiency and reduce energy loss. Owens et al. also noted that consuming a high-starch nonfiber CHO feed for dairy cows can result in reduced energy losses.

Amylase-sulfite procedure

An amylase-sulfite procedure for cattle feeding high in starch was developed by scientists from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil, as part of a research project. The researchers followed guidelines of the Animal Care and Use Committee. They used 300 finishing Nellore bulls (BW 330 +/ 33 kg) in a series of experiments. The researchers used exogenous enzymes and feed additives to measure starch content in feed.

The Panel determined that the food enzyme was safe for use in cattle feeds, considering that it is intended for use in glucose syrups and distilled alcohol production. The applicant has provided a maximum recommended use level of 300 KNU/kg starch dry matter, which corresponds to approximately 22.7 mg TOS/kg starch. The Panel’s decision is in line with the current state of scientific knowledge.