A win-win, but the punchline is a little corny


  • A simple answer to increasing feed conversion rate may be using different corn varieties in cattle rations.
  • Animals consuming the Enogen corn had better feed efficiency, which improves the environmental impact measures significantly.
  • Both universities had decreased estimated land use from Enogen corn as a feedstuff.

What you need to know: Feed conversion rate is the magic phrase we select for with better genetics and chase after with nutrition supplements. Well... a simple answer may be using different corn in your rations. Enogen, from Syngenta, is a corn seed with amylase enzyme activity that helps starches in the corn digest more quickly than other corn varieties.

Researchers combined a Kansas State University backgrounding trial and a University of Nebraska Lincoln feedlot trial to measure feed efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. Animals consuming the Enogen corn had better feed efficiency, which improved the environmental impact values significantly.

Both universities saw decreased estimated land use from using Enogen corn, with UNL and KSU being 6.13% and 5.17%, respectively. Estimated land use represents square meters of crops needed for 1000 kg of beef to be harvested.  

There was also a decrease in estimated water use. The estimated water use of the feedlot decreased by 5.61%, and the KSU backgrounding unit decreased by 5.13%. Estimated water use is representative of cubic meters of water required for 1000 kg of beef to be harvested from the animals.  

The important asterisk*:

  1. The backgrounding and feedlot cattle were not the same animals but instead separate groups.  
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions rely on many assumptions as collecting all outputs and inputs would be impossible, not to mention extremely expensive.

Industry Application: Increasing the digestibility of rations by selecting more digestible corn varieties can increase the feed efficiency of animals. Additionally, it is important to note that the more feed-efficient animals are, the lower their environmental impact.  

Read more about it: Analysis of Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Using Enogen Corn in Beef Cattle Rations