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J Anim Sci. 2002 May;80(5):1145-56.

Flaking corn: processing mechanics, quality standards, and impacts on energy availability and performance of feedlot cattle.

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University of California, Desert Research and Extension Center, El Centro 92243, USA.


Based on performance of feedlot cattle, steam flaking increases the value of corn by 18%, considerably more than is suggested by tabular values. Tabular values underestimate the energy availability of flaked corn by failing to account for digestibility of the nonstarch OM that is increased by flaking by the same magnitude (10%) as starch. Correcting for improvement in digestibility of nonstarch OM increases the NEg value of steam-flaked corn to 1.70 Mcal/kg, a value very close to values calculated from cattle performance trials. Digestibility of starch from corn grain is limited by the protein matrix that encapsulates starch granules, and by the compact nature of the starch itself. Disruption of the protein matrix (by shear forces on hot grain during flaking) is the first limiting step toward optimizing starch digestion. Five critical production factors influence the quality of steam-flaked corn: steam chest temperature, steaming time, roll corrugation, roll gap, and roll tension. For optimal shear, it is important that rolls be hot and that kernels be hot when flaked. Steam chests should be designed to allow a steaming time of at least 30 min at maximum roller mill capacity producing a flake of 0.31 kg/L (24 lb/bushel). As little as 5% moisture uptake during steaming appears adequate. The rate of flaking and distribution of kernels across the rolls also are critical. Quality standards for steam-flaked corn include measurements of flake thickness, flake density, starch solubility, and enzyme reactivity. Flake density, the most common quality standard, closely associated with starch solubility (r2 = 0.87) and enzyme reactivity (r2 = 0.79), still explains only 63% of the variability in percentage fecal starch and 52% of the variability in starch digestibility. Direct determination of fecal starch can explain 91% of the variability in starch digestion. The NEg value of corn can be predicted from fecal starch: NEg= 1.78 - 0.0184FS. Starch digestion is a Kappa Curve function of hot flake density, reaching a maximum at a flake density of approximately 0.31 kg/L. Flaking to a density of less than 0.31 kg/L, though increasing starch solubility, may reduce DMI, increase variability of weight gain among animals within a pen, and predispose cattle to acidosis and bloat without increasing starch digestion. We recommend that the steam-flaking process be optimized on the basis of fecal starch analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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