Utilization of Bt corn residues by grazing beef steers and Bt corn silage and grain by growing beef cattle and lactating dairy cows

J Anim Sci. 2002 May;80(5):1352-61. doi: 10.2527/2002.8051352x.


Three experiments were conducted to evaluate the impact of the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-11 transformation event in two parental corn hybrids differing in date of maturity on beef and dairy cattle performance. Sixteen lactating Holstein dairy cows in replicated 4 x 4 Latin squares were assigned to four diets in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement: Bt vs non-Bt trait and early- vs late-maturing corn hybrids. The diets contained 40% of the test corn silage plus 28% corn grain from the same corn hybrid (DM basis). There was no effect of the Bt trait on efficiency of milk production, ruminal pH, acetate:propionate ratio, or in situ digestion kinetics of NDF. The early-maturing corn hybrids resulted in greater total VFA concentrations in the rumen and efficiency of 4% fat-corrected milk production than the later-maturing hybrids (P < 0.05). Sixty-seven steer calves were used in a 70-d corn residue grazing trial for the late-maturing corn hybrids only. Daily BW gain of steers was similar for those grazing Bt and non-Bt corn residues, and the steers exhibited no grazing preference between Bt and non-Bt corn residue. One hundred twenty-eight steer calves were assigned to four silage-based growing diets in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement: Bt vs non-Bt trait and early- vs late-maturing corn hybrids. The diets contained 90% corn silage and 10% supplement (DM basis). The DMI was higher for steers fed Bt compared with non-Bt hybrids (P < 0.02). An interaction (P < 0.03) was observed for feed efficiency between hybrid genotype and incorporation of the Bt trait. Feed efficiency was greater (P < 0.05) for steers fed the later-maturing non-Bt hybrid compared with the later-maturing Bt hybrid; however, feed efficiency was similar between steers fed early-maturing Bt and non-Bt corn silages. Steers fed the early-maturing hybrid gained 11% faster and were 7% more efficient compared with those fed the late-maturing hybrid. These latter results agree with the dairy experiment in which the early-maturing hybrid resulted in 5% greater efficiency of milk production than the later-maturing corn hybrid. In all experiments, incorporation of the Bt trait into corn had no consistent effect on cattle performance. In addition, background genetics of the corn hybrids appeared to have a more consistent impact on performance than did presence of the Bt trait.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Cattle / growth & development*
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Random Allocation
  • Rumen / metabolism*
  • Rumen / microbiology
  • Silage
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile