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Journal of Dairy Science
Vol. 97, No. 3, 20
14; Pages: 1707–1712

The effect of an exogenous protease on the fermentation and nutritive value of high-moisture corn

L. Kung Jr, M.C. Windle, N. Walker

Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark 19717.


The objective of this study was to determine if treating high-moisture corn at harvest with an exogenous protease could accelerate the increase in in vitro ruminal starch degradation that is normally found with advancing times of ensiling. Ground high-moisture corn (HMC; 73% dry matter) was untreated or treated with an exogenous protease to achieve a final concentration of 2,000 mg of protease/kg of fresh corn. Corn was ensiled in laboratory-scale bags (approximately 500 g) that were evacuated of air, heat-sealed, and stored at 22 to 23°C for 70 and 140 d. Samples of freshly treated corn samples were collected to represent d 0 samples. Treatment of HMC with protease did not affect the gross populations of lactic acid bacteria or yeasts throughout the ensiling period. Treatment of HMC with protease resulted in higher concentrations of lactic acid and ethanol after 70 but not 140 d of ensiling. Concentrations of crude protein, water-soluble carbohydrates, and starch were unaffected by treatment with protease within each sampling day. After 70 or 140 d of ensiling, HMC that was treated with protease had higher concentrations of soluble protein (as a % of crude protein) and NH3-N, and had lower concentrations of prolamin protein, compared with untreated corn. In vitro rumen degradability (7-h incubation) of starch was greater in protease-treated versus untreated corn at all sampling days but the difference was more pronounced after 70 and 140 d compared with d 0. Concentrations of soluble protein and NH3-N were positively correlated with in vitro starch degradation. Conversely, the concentrations of prolamin protein in HMC were negatively correlated with in vitro starch degradation. Treating HMC with an exogenous protease could be a method to obtain greater potential for ruminal starch fermentation after a relatively short period of ensiling.

Keywords: high-moisture corn; protease; starch digestibility.

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