Objectives were to evaluate the effects of replacing corn in feedlot finishing diets with processed corn stover (CS), processed by various combinations of chemical and physical methods, and modified wet distillers grain with solubles (MWDGS) on growth performance, carcass characteristics, digestibility, and ruminal metabolism of cattle. Corn stover was physically processed (ground or extruded) and chemically processed with alkaline agents (CaO and NaOH) to reduce the crystallinity of the lignocellulosic structure. In Exp. 1 steers ( = 18, initial BW = 385 ± 32 kg) and heifers ( = 41, initial BW = 381 ± 27 kg) were allotted to 1 of 5 dietary treatments: 1) 55% dry, cracked corn, 35% MWDGS, 5% vitamin-mineral supplement, and 5% untreated ground CS (), 2) CS treated with 5% CaO (DM basis) and stored in an Ag-Bag (BGCS), 3) CS treated with 5% CaO (DM basis) and extruded (5 EXCS), 4) CS treated with 4% CaO and 1% NaOH (DM basis) and extruded (4,1 EXCS), or 5) CS treated with 3% CaO and 2% NaOH (DM basis) and extruded (3,2 EXCS). Extruded CS was hydrated to 34% moisture, then an additional 16% water was added, as a solution carrying CaO or NaOH or both, via a calibrated pump during processing through a dual-shafted encased extruder (Readco Kurimoto Continuous Processor, York, PA) with the desired exiting temperature of 76.7°C ± 2.8°C. All treated CS diets contained 20% CS and 40% MWDGS (DM basis) to replace 20% corn when compared to CON. There were no effects ( ≥ 0.20) of dietary treatment on ADG, G:F, 12th-rib back fat, marbling score, LM area, or yield grade. However, cattle fed CON had increased ( = 0.02) DMI compared to cattle fed the treated CS diets. In Exp. 2, using the same diets as fed in Exp. 1, ruminally cannulated steers ( = 5; initial BW = 417 ± 21 kg) were fed for 90% of ad libitum intake in a 5 × 5 Latin square design. Apparent digestibility of NDF and ADF increased ( < 0.01) when cattle were fed treated CS diets compared with CON, regardless of the treatment applied. Ruminal pH was reduced ( = 0.02) in cattle fed BGCS from 0 to 6 h postfeeding compared with cattle fed all other diets. Cattle fed the treated CS diets had the greatest ( < 0.01) mean acetate concentrations, which increased ( = 0.01) total VFA concentrations. Replacing a portion of the corn with treated CS in feedlot diets containing MWDGS increased fiber digestibility without affecting feedlot cattle gain, efficiency, marbling score, or LM area.
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