Effects of ensiling time on corn silage starch ruminal degradability evaluated in situ or in vitro

S. F. Cueva, M. Harper, G. W. Roth, H. Wells, C. Canale, A. Gallo, F. Masoero, A. N. Hristov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Accurate measurements of concentration and ruminal degradability of corn silage starch is necessary for formulation of diets that meet the energy requirements of dairy cows. Five corn silage hybrids ensiled for 0 (unfermented), 30, 60, 120, and 150 d were used to determine the effects of ensiling time on starch degradability of corn silage. In addition, the effects of grind size of silage samples on 7-h in vitro starch degradability and the relationship between in vitro, in situ and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) starch degradability were studied. In situ disappearance of corn silage starch increased from 0 to 150 d of ensiling, primarily as a result of an increase in the washout or rapidly degraded fraction of starch, particularly during the first 60 d of ensiling. When analyzed in vitro and by NIRS, ensiling time increased corn silage starch degradability either linearly or to a greater extent during the first 2 mo of ensiling. Differences in in situ starch disappearance among corn silage hybrids were apparent during the first 2 mo of ensiling but were attenuated as silages aged. No differences among hybrids were detected using a 7-h in vitro starch digestibility approach. Results from the in vitro subexperiment indicate that 7-h in vitro starch degradability was increased by reducing grind size of corn silage from 4 to 1 mm, regardless of ensiling duration. Fine grinding corn silages samples (i.e., 1-mm sieve) allowed distinguishing low- from medium- and high-starch degradability rated hybrids. Correlations among in situ, in vitro and NIRS measurements for starch degradability were medium to high (r ≥0.57); however, agreement among methods was low (concordance correlation coefficient ≤0.15). In conclusion, ensiling time linearly increased degradation rate of corn silage resulting in greater in situ starch disappearance after 150 d of ensiling. Reductions in grind size from 4 to 1 mm resulted in greater in vitro starch degradability, regardless of ensiling duration. Strong correlation but low agreement between starch degradability methods suggest that absolute estimations of corn silage starch degradability will vary, but all methods can be used to assess the effect of ensiling time on starch degradability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3961-3974
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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