Oven-drying reduces ruminal starch degradation in maize kernels

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The degradation of starch largely determines the feeding value of maize (Zea mays L.) for dairy cows. Normally, maize kernels are dried and ground before chemical analysis and determining degradation characteristics, whereas cows eat and digest fresh material. Drying the moist maize kernels (consisting mainly of starch) at high temperatures can influence their physical properties and thus their degradation dynamics in the rumen. We compared the in vitro degradability of dried maize kernels with that of fresh kernels after incubation in rumen fluid. Maize kernels were obtained from genotypes diverse in starch structure, composition and type of endosperm. These genotypes were grown in greenhouses at different temperatures during starch accumulation, and harvested at different maturity stages, in two experiments. Starch content was assessed using the amyloglucosidase method. Fermentation in rumen fluid was measured using an in vitro gas production technique. Starch degradation of the kernels was calculated after 6, 12 and 20 h of incubation in rumen fluid. Oven-drying influenced (P <0.0001) the in vitro degradation of starch in maize kernels at the different incubation times, with more starch being degraded in the fresh than in the oven-dried maize kernels, although the differences were small (11–15%). There was a consistent interaction (P <0.009 to 0.0002) between oven-drying and genotype, with the high-amylose genotype showing larger effects of oven-drying than the other genotypes. The vitreous genotype showed a lower starch degradation than the non-vitreous type. At earlier maturity stages, the difference between oven-dried and fresh kernels was larger than at later maturity stages. The temperature during grain filling affected (P <0.0001) starch degradation but did not affect the difference between fresh and oven-dried samples. Oven-drying reduced the in vitro rumen starch degradation of maize kernels regardless of growing conditions, genotype and maturity stage, but its effect depends on genotype and maturity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-50
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • physicochemical properties
  • microwave irradiation
  • gas-production
  • rumen fluid
  • corn-silage
  • digestibility
  • grain
  • degradability
  • moisture
  • protein


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