Starch And Fermentation Rates Differ

Did you know that starch and fermentation rate differs between different grains?

Grains can be an important component of a ruminant’s diet. They act as a source of protein and energy. The starch content of the grain is particularly important as it provides energy and can increase the daily Metabolisable Energy (ME) intake. The starch in grain can be digested in several different locations once it enters the digestive system as can be seen in Figure 1. It is important to understand that the site and extent of starch digestion by ruminants differs between species and also grain type.

[us_single_image image=”8241″ el_class=”Figure 1. The process of starch digestion in the ruminant.”]

Figure 1. The process of starch digestion in the ruminant.

Different grains ferment and breakdown at different rates once they enter the body as can be seen in Table 1. From the table you can see that corn grain ferments much more slowly in the body when compared to wheat grain. As these grains breakdown in the rumen they produce a substance called lactic acid. Lactic acid has the ability to lower the rumen pH and also can slow down the digestion and consumption of more fibrous feeds such as hay and straw. Hence the more lactic acid produced the greater the risk that the animal will develop acidosis which can lead to a decline in production. This is why slowly fermenting grains such as corn and sorghum, can be beneficial in the diet.

The Feed Central NIR Express Feed Test is able to test for the starch content in a variety of different grains including corn, sorghum, wheat, barley and oats. So get a feed test today and know what you are feeding your stock.

Grain type Energy (MJ ME/Kg DM) Crude Protein content (% DM) Starch content (% DM) Rate of rumen fermentation (+ = slow, +++++ = fast)
Maize/Corn 12-16 9.5 70-75 +
Wheat 12-14 12-13 65-70 +++++
Barley 11.5-13.5 12-13.5 55-60 +++
Oats 9-13 11.5-12 45-50 ++
Sorghum 7-13 10.5 65-70 +

Table 1. Fermentation and nutrient variations between different grains.

$77inc. GST
  • • Minerals
  • • Crude Protein
  • • Digestible Energy
  • • Metabolisable Energy
  • • Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)
  • • Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF)
  • • Water Soluble Carbohydrates (WSC)
  • • Simple Sugars (ESC)
  • • Crude Fat
  • • Starch
  • • Ash
  • Feed Test Quality Certificate

Please CLICK HERE to download the Feed Testing Brochure & Submission Form powered by Dairy One – Forage Laboratory


  • Neville Janke

    Neville Janke is a qualified agronomist and Horticulturist with over 20 years of experience guiding farmers in the Agricultural and Horticultural industries. With this experience, Neville has been helping long-term users of Hay and grain to experience the Feed Central way of sourcing quality Feed for hungry cattle.

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