What type of processed corn is best to include in calf starter? The answer is not clear-cut, according to research reported in the October 2004 Journal of Dairy Science.

Researchers at Penn State University fed four different calf starters containing either whole corn, dry-rolled corn, roasted-rolled corn or steam-flaked corn. Corn made up 33 percent of the calf starter dry matter.

Calves fed starter containing whole corn or dry-rolled corn ate more calf starter per day during the six-week treatment period than calves fed the other two treatments. However, the increased intake did little to enhance bodyweight gain, structural growth or rumen development.

Conversely, calves fed steam-flaked corn ate the least amount of calf starter among the four treatment groups. However, they had the best rumen development.

The effect of roasted-rolled corn on bodyweight gain, feed efficiency and rumen development was similar to that observed in the other treatments. However, unlike the other treatments, these calves had better structural growth.

The results show that all four treatments impacted calf performance. However, more work needs to be done before experts can agree on what type of processed corn is best to feed calves.