Milk production and milk components are of prime economic importance for dairy farmers. Although milk production depends largely on numerous dietary nutrients, energy and protein are most critical. Feed grains containing starch such as corn, barley, wheat, and sorghum as a primary source of energy are commonly fed to beef and dairy cattle to improve meat or milk productions. Feed grain needs to be processed prior to feed cattle to increase accessibility of the endosperm by microbial population in the rumen and the host enzyme in the intestine. Grain processing is done by the application of various combinations of heat, moisture, time and mechanical actions. This article outlines the effect of grain processing method and degree of processing on rate and extent of grain digestion in the digestive tract of cattle, and consequently on lactation performance and cattle health. Methods of grinding, rolling and steam flaking are particularly discussed on their advantages and disadvantages. The optimal degree of processing can achieve a balance between maximizing the extent and controlling the rate of starch digestion in the rumen to maximize utilization and avoid digestive and metabolic disturbances. A recent developed precision processing technique has been highlighted and discussed as well.
Part of the book: Herbivores