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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Poultry Research » Research » Research Project #439594

Research Project: In-field Grain Processing for Poultry Diet

Location: Poultry Research

Project Number: 6064-32630-011-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 15, 2021
End Date: Sep 14, 2024

The overall goal of this project is to determine the energy requirements for in-field processing of corn and resultant nutritional value in poultry diets. Specific objectives include: 1) assess particle size reduction during harvest at different kernel processor settings on a forage harvester, 2) assess the harvested material for mean physical characteristics related to feed manufacturing, 3) compare fuel energy requirements of harvest and processing methods, 4) assess resultant grain product for nutritional profile in poultry diets, and 5) assess feed manufacturing characteristics and energy requirements for in-field processed grain.

Corn is typically harvested with a combine harvester where the grain is separated from the remaining plant material (material other than grain, MOG) and further processed during the feed manufacturing process. Self-propelled forage harvesters (SPFH) equipped with a kernel processing (KP) roller unit can perform some particle size reduction of the grain during harvest, which may provide energy and process time reduction during feed manufacturing. Furthermore, densification of the corn by reducing the particle size during harvest could allow for more efficient transport from the field to the feed mill, decreasing the cost of transportation. In order to assess the applicability of on-machine grain processing, corn will be harvested with a SPFH equipped with an ear stripping corn head. Corn will be harvested with four different KP gap settings (0.75 mm, 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm) for poultry feed production. Corn will be grown in Wisconsin at typical seeding rates (~93,827 seeds/ha) for corn grain production and will be harvested at 10% moisture content (wet basis). The harvested grain and MOG will be randomly sampled and assessed for particle size distribution and grain to MOG ratio in the harvested material. A fuel flow meter will be installed on the SPFH to measure fuel consumption during the harvest process to provide insight into energy required to harvest grain. The fuel flow meter will also be installed on a typical combine during normal harvest operations for comparison. Harvest rate (ha/hr) will also be assessed over a 2 ha area of continuous operation for both the SPFH and the combine harvester. Harvested material will be supplied to the Unit for feed quality assessment and use in feeding trials to determine its suitability for both broiler and layer feed.