Those farmers looking to replace cereals in the diet as a result of high prices have a number of options, according to KW Feeds nutritionist Ian Pickles.
“Confectionary products/biscuit meals are derived from cereals and offer similar or slightly higher energy levels.”
Starch levels may be slightly lower than cereals at 35-40%, but sugars are usually higher. Because of this, they are processed quicker in the rumen and must be balanced with slower energy releasing feeds.
“Crumbed bread can also be a direct replacement for cereals,” he said. “Bread contains processed wheat, but has a slightly higher starch level at 73% with 14% protein and metabolisable energy.”
But because most bread waste is from white bread, a lot of the fibre has been removed, making balancing the ration important. And it’s low dry matter means 3kg of bread will be needed for every 2kg of cereal.
Those looking to reduce the level of cereals fed in the diet, could replace a proportion with wheat feed, Mr Pickles continued. “This is a mid energy, mid protein feed so is not a direct replacement for cereals.”
But energy in the form of digestible fibre could act as a different form of energy replacement for cereals, he said. “Sugar beet may be relatively expensive, but it is a good buy versus the cost of cereals. This type of energy product is slow releasing and will consequently need to be balanced.”
But rather than replacing cereals, farmers could get more value from them by using energy protected wheat, added Anna Meakin, nutritionist for NWF.
“Ultra Starch W is the only energy protected wheat available. The process of production increases the glucose concentration and the proportion of rumen bypass energy.”
According to Ms Meakin, this means the product is more like maize, and has the potential to replace maize in the diet.
Liquid feeds are also a good option for supplying sugar and also have the added benefit of improving palatability and dry matter intakes, said Mr Pickles.