Corn Energy Value - A Comparison of Harvesting Corn as Shelled Dried Corn, High Moisture Corn, High Moisture Cob Corn (cob meal) and Corn Silage


The higher corn prices we have been experiencing have had many beef producers re-evaluating their feeding programs and considering their feed ingredient options to potentially reduce feed costs. These corn prices, coupled with projected higher drying charges or costs, prompted me to compare the cost of energy from a home grown corn crop, looking at different harvesting options. The calculations were based on the assumption of a 160 bushel per acre crop of corn and an opportunity cost or replacement cost value of $5.50 per bushel. Costs for harvest, trucking, drying and for putting the corn into storage were included. I did not factor in the capital or operating costs of storage, so the numbers do not capture all the costs that could be included, but they hopefully are "food for thought" as we look for ways to reduce feed costs.

Based on my calculations, the cost of energy from corn silage is approximately 33% less than that of dry shelled corn, and the energy from high moisture cob corn is approximately 17.5% less than the energy cost of dry corn. If someone approached you with a product that could potentially reduce your feed costs by 33% or 17.5%, I think they would have your attention. Some producers like dry corn because it gives them some marketing options, and they are right! However as with many options, there can be a cost.

Both corn prices and energy costs are softening at the present time and I won't speculate on where either is going in the future. However, during times of high corn prices and energy costs there are some feed cost savings to be had by including more corn silage in rations and using high moisture grains such as high moisture corn or high moisture cob corn.

Production - per acre, assuming a 160 bu per acre corn crop.
 
Total Weight
Protein
Energy (TDN)
Scenario #1
 
 
 
Shelled Corn (15.5%D.M.)
8,960 lbs
(8%) 717 lbs
(80%) 7168 lbs
Scenario #2
 
 
 
High Moisture Corn (75%D.M.)
10,095 lbs
(7.1%) 717 lbs
(71%) 7168 lbs
Scenario #3
 
 
 
High Moisture Cob (72%D.M.)
12,618 lbs
(6.5%) 828 lbs
(65%) 8164 lbs
Scenario #4
 
 
 
Corn Silage (35%D.M.)
45,820 lbs
(2.8%) 1283 lbs
(24.5%) 11,226 lbs

Costs - per acre - assuming an opportunity price value or a replacement cost of $5.50/bu.

Scenario #1 Cost
Shelled Corn 160 bu/acre @ $5.50 = $ 880.00
Drying Costs @ $24 /t (25% moisture) = $ 97.50
Combining @ $40 /acre = $ 40.00
Trucking @ $8 /t = $ 4.06
Total Cost $1021.56

Scenario #2 Cost
H.M.C. (based on 160 bu/acre) = $ 880.00
Combining @ $40 /acre = $ 40.00
Placing in Storage @ $8 /t = $ 36.62
Total Cost $ 956.62

Scenario #3 Cost
High moisture cob corn (based on 160 bu./acre) = $ 880.00
Harvesting $215 /hour @ 2.5 ac/hr =
(includes picking, processing, hauling and blowing)
$ 86.00
Total Cost $ 966.00

Scenario #4
Cost
Corn Silage (based on an equivalent 160 bu/acre) = $ 880.00
Harvesting $215 /hr @ 2.5 ac/hr = $ 86.00
P&K removed in stover (~$5.25 /t) = $ 109.10
Total Cost $ 1075.10

Cost of Energy - ¢/lb of TDN

Scenario #1 - dried shelled corn Cost
Total costs ÷ energy yield = $1021.56 ÷ 7168 lbs. = 14.3 ¢/lb

Scenario #2 - high moisture corn Cost
Total costs ÷ energy yield = $956.62 ÷ 7168 lbs. = 13.3 ¢/lb

Scenario #3 - high moisture cob corn (cob meal) Cost
Total costs ÷ energy yield = $966.00 ÷ 8164 lbs. = 11.8 ¢/lb

Scenario #4 - corn silage Cost
Total costs ÷ energy yield = $1075.10 ÷ 11,226 lbs. = 9.6 ¢/lb

Assumptions

  • No costs are included for storage.
  • No allowance for potential differences in field loses based on harvest moisture.
  • The cob portion in high moisture cob corn adds approximately 20% more in weight than a similar yield of high moisture corn.
  • The energy and the protein are calculated on an "as fed" basis.
  • The value of the protein yields have not been calculated, but should also be considered.
  • Differences in feeding value or potential gain have not been calculated.
  • A "thumb rule" yield of 1 tonne of 35% dry matter corn silage per 7.7 bushels of shelled corn.
  • The small case letter "t" is the abbreviation used for metric tonne.

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