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Whole Corn vs. Ground Corn in a TMR Mixer | Customer Question

Q: Hi,I am purchasing a Jaylor 5425 vertical mixer. I have done some research on whole corn compared to chopped/ground corn. And surprising to me the whole corn is about as efficient as the ground corn. I wonder what your take is on that. I also am wondering, if this mixer I am buying will mix whole corn with the midsize bales (12-14 hundred pounds) effectively. I worry about whole corn maybe shaking down in the mixer or feed bunk and some cattle getting to much corn while others to little.

A: Good morning and Thank-you for your enquiry. Yes, whole corn can be used as effectively as processed (e.g. cracked or ground) corn, but only if it is chewed sufficiently by the animal to be completely digested.

This is generally the case when whole corn is fed to small ruminants such as sheep, goats and small calves; it also occurs when fed free-choice at over 90 percent of the ration in specialized beef finishing programs such as low or no-roughage dairy-beef programs. Otherwise, up to 30% may end up in the manure as the hull must be broken for the contents of the kernel to be digested.

Larger ruminants usually eat whole corn rapidly without chewing it adequately to be completely digested, and only small amounts are subsequently broken down by rumination, and this problem generally increases as the forage content of the diet increases.

Using a TMR mixer can reduce this effect if one ensures that the corn does not separate from the forage in the mixer, nor in the feedbunk. Regardless of types and processing, concentrates (grain) will separate from hay when the mix only contains dry ingredients. To minimize separation, it is normal practice, and essential, to add water (or other liquid in sufficient amounts) to the TMR mix during the final mixing phase. Simply add increasing amounts of water until you get satisfactory results; this can be as much water as the weight of hay that is included in the ration.