Corn Use as Livestock Feed in Iowa

Peter. J. Lammers, Research Associate and Mark S. Honeyman, Professor, Animal Science


Historically, feeding livestock has been a major use of corn in Iowa. Recently corn-based ethanol plants have become another major user of Iowa corn. Competition for corn has increased. Questions about the amount of corn fed to Iowa livestock and the interaction of ethanol and livestock feeding have been raised.


The objective of this study was to estimate the amount of corn fed to livestock in Iowa and compare corn feeding to livestock with corn use by processing in the context of current and projected corn yields.


Current (2006) livestock production numbers for Iowa were multiplied by probable corn consumption per head of livestock to generate corn usage by species values. The corn consumption for livestock was based on ISU Extension budgets.

The total amount of corn fed to livestock in Iowa in 2006 was estimated at 607 million bushels (Table 1). According to Iowa Agricultural Statistics the total bushels of corn produced in Iowa in 2006 was 2 billion bushels. Therefore, Iowa livestock consumed about 30% of the 2006 corn crop. Iowa finishing pigs were the largest class of livestock consuming corn, approximately 340 million bushels, which is about 16.6% of the Iowa corn crop, or 55% of all the corn fed to livestock in Iowa. If sows and litters are included, corn feeding for swine in Iowa is about 370 million bushels or 18% of the Iowa corn crop, or 60% of all corn fed to Iowa livestock. In short, Iowa pigs consume 1 of every 5 or 6 bushels of corn produced in Iowa and consume more corn than all other Iowa livestock feeding combined.

About 70% of the Iowa crop was not fed to Iowa livestock; rather it was exported out of the state, processed into ethanol, corn sweetener, or other products such as pet food or other miscellaneous uses. This analysis shows that there is ample Iowa corn to feed Iowa livestock.  The analysis methodology is a basis on which to develop an ongoing procedure to estimate livestock needs and thus evaluate increases in yield compared to additional processing capacity. 


There is ample corn at present and future production levels to meet processing and feed needs in Iowa.

We expect this understanding to result in more policy and business decisions based on growth of corn supply rather than on allocation control of corn supply

When taken in connection with new feed ration balancing knowledge, the extension of this study will be to increase the activity of both the livestock and processing industries.


100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection

Page last updated: February 19, 2009
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