The Power of the Kernel: Digestible Starch Basics

Scientific advances, along with new tools and techniques, have allowed us to discover more knowledge about the type of starch found in a corn kernel. Armed with this knowledge, livestock nutritionists can maximize every bit of the nutritional power.

A few of the most common kernel types are Flint, Dent, Floury and Waxy. Each corn kernel has a different starch storage matrix; in simpler terms, the starch is either soft (floury) or hard (flint). Soft starch is readily available for an energy source to animals. Hard starch is much less available, so it needs to be broken down.

The Importance of Starch Profiling

Hybrids that tend to produce soft starch are better designed for ethanol and livestock operations including dairy. Softer starch hybrids have shown to increase ethanol yields, as well as have positive effects on milk yields in dairy cows. Consider these Latham® Hi-Tech Hybrids if your operation could benefit from hybrids with soft starch:

Harder starch hybrids need to management differently to get all available starch.  If not managed well, hard starch will pass through the dairy cow – undigested –  and into manure. The chart below illustrates available starch, referenced as degree as starch access (DSA).

The Basics of the Corn Kernel