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Kiwi straight options just got better

It’s good to see that another internationally appreciated animal feed – corn gluten meal – has entered the New Zealand market and is now starting to trickle into regional ports.

Importation has no doubt been encouraged by the Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) penalties that have been indicated by Fonterra to come into effect next season, which are likely to curb how much palm kernel expeller (PKE) is fed to the national dairy herd. I cut my teeth selling corn gluten meal in the UK in the 1990s, as TMR feeding became popular and it has been on my wish list of desirable by-products for years. If it can gain critical mass here, it could become a popular multi-purpose addition to the straights and blends Farmlands offer and as a constituent in the compound feeds we manufacture.

A by-product from the wet milling of maize grain to extract starch, corn gluten meal is a mid-protein, mid-energy feed with relatively low residual fat levels, so it should not affect the FEI like PKE. The demand for starch as a staple ingredient in human food production is so great that huge volumes are available, its price reflects how it is valued by dairy farmers globally. With only about 8 to 14 percent starch and typically 40 percent neutral detergent fibre (NDF), it should be safe for in-paddock trough feeding (provided all animals can get their fair share) but its fibre is more digestible than the fibre in PKE, so it is better suited to young stock and high producing cows. With over 20 percent crude protein, it could be useful for anyone who is winter milking or including low protein silage like maize or cereal silage in their milking cow diet, or simply as a supplement for calves on summer grass.

I do not just celebrate choice simply because it is widely sought in this consumer age. The rumen is such a complex ecosystem, I am a fan of nutritional diversity whilst not trying to make things overly complicated. I have seen that, inevitably, simplicity can lead to compromises, e.g. wheat is a high energy grain that can help support high levels of milk production but when slug-fed at high levels in conjunction with highly acidic maize silage, it is not surprising that animal health and production can increase when some of the wheat is replaced with soya hulls – despite it delivering less energy. PKE has undoubtedly filled an energy gap for many cows but when consumed at higher levels affects milk composition in ways, which causes problems for milk processors. Increasingly we have a good spread of energy and protein feeds, which will allow better supplementation of pasture based systems – from grains rich in starch through to soy hulls rich in pectin and now corn gluten meal somewhere in between. Choice allows more opportunity for diets to be balanced according to the forages available and relative to the class of animal and their level of production and will help more farmers achieve their goals more of the time.

For more information, contact your local Nutrition Specialist.

Article supplied by Dr. Rob Derrick, Nutritionist, Farmlands.


Typical analysis (DM basis) corn gluten meal
Dry matter 90%
Crude protein 21%
Crude fat 3.5%
ME 12 MJ ME/kg DM


(Specifications may vary)