Grain Processing

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Feed conversion efficiency and average daily gain is improved when grain is ground, rolled or tempered rather than fed whole because kernels are not damaged enough during chewing and the fibrous hull limits access to the starchy core by both microbes in the rumen and digestive enzymes in the lower digestive tract.
  • Finely processed barley is rapidly digested in the rumen. This is an advantage in terms of maximizing its digestibility but a disadvantage due to higher risk of rumen acidosis and frothy bloat.
  • The processing of oats is not necassary because the hull that protects the starchy core is soft. Oat kernels are large and likely to be regurgitated for chewing.
  • The ideal method of processing grain is by steam rolling as it produces less dust (lower risk of respiratory problems), and fewer “fines” compared to dry rolling or grinding.
  • Although dry rolling produces slightly more dust than steam rolling, it is a viable option as it can be done at home with a regular roller mill.
  • Use of a hammer mill to prepare feed is possible, but care must be taken not to over-process the grain and pulverize it rather than crack it.
  • The need for processing corn is minimal because of its larger size. Corn is regurgitated as cud and is chewed before passing along in the animal’s intestine. Corn is digested from the center of the kernel outward.
  • When feeding wheat, triticale or rye, be sure to coarse roll or grind the kernel to improve digestibility. “Fineness” of grind or particle size distribution is very important because the high energy content of the grains can cause problems with acidosis and or bloat. The higher the amount of fines, the more digestive upsets can be expected.
  • Tempering or steam rolling grains improves the uniformity of the product. Fewer fines are produced, and digestive upsets are lower. Moisture levels in the grains should be increased to 18 – 19 % prior to processing.
  • Grains that are very dry are more likely to shatter during processing and produce large amounts of fines. Price discounts for tough or damp grains may improve feeding economics and reduce the occurrence of digestive upsets.
Fact Sheets

Grain Processing for Feedlot Cattle

Optimum Processing of Barley

Processing Feed Grains

Research Papers

Adjusting roller settings based on kernal size increased starch digestability of dry rolled barley grain in cattle - available in PDF format only

Ground Versus Underground Ammoniated Oat Hulls for Growing Calves - available in PDF format only

Effects of barley grain processing on the site and extent of digestion of beef feedlot finishing diets

The effect of grain source and grain processing on performance of feedlot cattle: a review - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on March 20, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 15, 2017.

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