Yellow corn plays a vital role in animal nutrition. It is one of the most important feed grains in feed milling and accounts for 50-60% of the total mixed feed ration. About 90 percent of yellow corn produced is used as feed for swine and poultry. It is a primary source of energy supplement and can contribute up to 30% protein, 60% energy and 90% starch in an animal’s diet (Dado, 1999). However, it is deficient in two essential amino acids: lysine and tryptophan, which are the limiting amino acids in swine and poultry diets.

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Photo by Muffet Quality Protein Maize (QPM): A high-protein corn for swine and poultry 1

QPM or quality protein maize was developed to produce maize of high nutritional quality not only for human but for animal consumption as well. Its lysine content is 30% more than normal corn and tryptophan, 55% more. It is therefore claimed as a better animal feed than normal corn because of its well-balanced protein composition.

By 2020, the growth of swine and poultry industry is likely to increase at a rate of 0.67 and 3.24%, respectively. Thus, demand for feed, particularly yellow corn, is also expected to increase. Yellow corn will definitely play a major role and use of quality protein maize (QPM) is seen to be a potential boost to the productivity of these industries that can ultimately increase competitiveness of the livestock industry.

Several studies have indicated that QPM has potentials as feedstuff for swine and poultry. The amino acids in QPM are more than the amount present in normal maize. Inclusion of QPM in the diet reduces the amount of protein supplement and thus the cost of diet. This was indicated by lower inclusion rate of soybean oil meal in the diet by about 5.8%.

In a previous study implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), researchers have developed QPM variety with an average yield of 6.41 mt/ha at five locations in Luzon which was higher by 1.26% than the standard variety. However, yield obtained in Nueva Ecija was only 4.0 mt/ha. This showed that QPM cultivars were superior over the normal maize varieties planted in the country, whose average yield was only 3.82 mt/ha (BAS, 2011). Promising two high-yielding and stable QPM hybrids with yield ranging from 6.85-7.46 mt/ha had been identified by the University of Southern Mindanao. Considering these inconsistencies in yield, there is a need to do further testing to validate the actual performance of QPM in other agro-ecological zones.

The current program on QPM entitled, Enhancing Quality Protein Maize (QPM) Production, Storage and Utilization as Feed Grain that is being funded and monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), aims to provide high-yielding QPM hybrids with enhanced protein quality, established planting density and fertilizer requirement, and improved shelf life. This is a multi-agency program being implemented by the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), Central Mindanao University (CMU), and Central Luzon State University (CLSU).

Seven experimental hybrids were formed consisting of four three-way cross and three single cross hybrids. Analyses had shown that a significant interaction between genotype and location was noted which indicates that QPM hybrids differed in their yield when grown in various locations. Yield ranged from 4,331 to 9,350 kg/ha across locations. A variation due to genotype was found insignificant. However, variation due to location was observed significant. Based on the proximate analysis made, four out of the seven experimental hybrids formed, had high protein content with a crude protein (CP) content ranging from 8.3% to as high as 11.01%.

The program on QPM is one of the many R&D undertakings supported by PCAARRD in response to its commitment to Outcome One. Being the frontrunner of the eight major outcomes of DOST, Outcome One seeks to provide science–based know-how and tools that will enable the agriculture sector to achieve global competitiveness.

by Marites R. Dayo, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service