Turning crop residue into a valuable carbohydrate source for cattle isn’t magic. It’s the result of years of scientific research, focused on finding the best way to transform crop residue into a safe, effective and sustainable alternative to corn and hay.
Why use treated crop residue as cattle feed? It saves money and increases profit per-head, using something most cattlemen and farmers already have or have easy access to. It’s a safe, effective and sustainable alternative to corn that gives cattlemen more control over their rations—and their bottom line.
Research shows cattle will readily eat properly stored treated crop residue. Rate of gain for cattle fed treated corn stover and corn co-products as a replacement for corn and hay is essentially the same as the rate of gain for cattle fed corn or hay. That means a significant reduction in feed costs without compromising animal performance.
The amount of corn that can be replaced depends on the feed mix. Treated corn stover can replace up to 20 percent of the corn in a cattle finishing ration. And studies show that as much as 80 percent of the corn can be replaced with a treated corn stover and distillers grain combination, depending on the rest of the feed ration.
The ADM Second Crop™ Process
Although many homemade recipes exist for crop residue treatment, years of university and field studies by ADM researchers have resulted in a process that works and is safe—for users, cattle and consumers. Different crop residues have been studied, with the most intensive research focused on corn stover. The basic process is:
- Bales of crop residue are processed through a tub grinder and ground to a specific size. The residue can be either fresh or from storage.
- An ADM Second Crop mobile treatment unit, staffed by a trained technician, sprays the ground crop residue with a lime slurry as it moves up the conveyor belt.
- The slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) breaks the fiber-lignin bonds in the residue, making the carbohydrates available for cattle.
- The treated residue is piled and held for 5-7 days before it is ready for cattle to eat.
- If the treated residue is not used in 10 days, it is stored in an anaerobic (without oxygen) area and covered.
- The treated residue can be stored for many months in an ag bag or storage bunk, so long as it is not exposed to oxygen.