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What Type of Corn Goes in Animal Feed

( Update: 14/08/2018 )

Corn has been used as a food source since before recorded history in the Americas. In modern times, corn has many uses other than as food for humans: for chemicals and plastics, to produce ethanol and to make oils and even fuel. Corn is also the primary food source for livestock in the United States and around the world. Does this Spark an idea?

American Indians cultivated and used corn at least 5,600 years ago, millenniums before Europeans had ever encountered the crop. It is native only to the Americas. The word "corn" is of European origin, referring to the ears of grain crops such as barley or wheat. When European explorers encountered the new crop, they called it grain and referred to the large edible ears as corn. The Taino Indians' word for the crop was maiz. In Spanish, this was spelled maize. Corn was the main food source of the Taino. In modern times, corn is still used for human consumption, although around 75 percent of corn grown each year in the United States is used to feed livestock.

The two types of corn used to feed livestock are flint and dent corn. Flint corn's taste and consistency are different from the yellow corn most often eaten by people. Dent corn is also the variety mainly used for industrial and processed foods.

The two types of corn can be readily distinguished when they are dried. Flint corn has hard kernels that are usually red or white. Flint corn will dry with its kernels smooth and hard. Dent corn is so named because the kernels will have a depression in the top once dried.

Corn used for livestock feed is typically grown as silage. Corn intended for silage is planted very close together and harvested before it is ripe. At the time the corn is harvested, it is still a little green on top. The whole plant is put through silage cutters, a rough cutting machine, to produce the feed. This is fit for cows and pigs. Chickens eat only the corn kernels. In this preparation, the cob is removed using specialized machines. Pigs can also eat the kernels of corn.

Although these types of corn have harder kernels than the corn usually eaten by people and their taste is slightly different, corn used for livestock can also be eaten by humans. Silage, however, is largely inedible for people because it contains parts of the plant that humans cannot digest.