Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Jong-Su Eun


Jong-Su Eun


Dale R. ZoBell


Allen J. Young


Dirk Vanderwall


Sustainable beef production is extremely important to the beef cattle industry. Sustainability influences the environment, overall profits, and public concerns. One
factor that influences sustainability is the composition of cattle feed. This study compared conventional corn silage (CCS), which is most commonly used in beef steer feed, to brown midrib corn silage (BMR). Steers fed the two different diets were compared to determine differences in the areas of growth/animal performance, ruminal fermentation (digestion), and economic returns. The study included 24 beef steers randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. Treatment groups were a total mixed feed ration that included all of the same basic components except for the BMR or CCS difference. Steers were fed the treatment diet during a transition phase before the start of the study. Animals were placed in individual pens and fed the treatment diet once per day. The study lasted for 84 days. Body weight and ruminal fermentation measures were taken on weeks 4, 8, and 12. Steers fed BMR tended to increase average daily gain (ADG) and the gain to feed ratio compared to the CCS treatment. Feeding BMR decreased ruminal pH and increased total volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration compared to CCS. Feeding BMR decreased production of acetate, and increased production of propionate. Steers fed BMR had increased feed margin and net returns. Overall data showed that feeding BMR to growing beef steers improved fermentation and shifted VFA production from acetate to propionate. These differences led to improved growth and economic performance in steers fed BMR.