10 September 2001
HGCA exposes feed grain swindle

By Tom Allen-Stevens

GRAIN traders who make deductions for low specific weight on feed-grain contracts could be swindling growers for no reason, says some new research.

The two-year study concludes that there is no consistent relationship between the specific weight of wheat used in livestock feed and its nutritional value.

The research, funded by the Home Grown Cereals Authority, flies in the face of popular belief and is likely to lead to a complete rethink on feed grain contracts.

Typically growers can expect a 1.50 per tonne deduction for every kilogram below the benchmark specific weight (or bushel weight) of 72kg/hl.

“Our trials question the assumption that specific weight has a significant role to play in overall feeding value,” said Dr Helen Miller of the University of Leeds.

“The belief that higher specific weights make for better livestock feed is probably based on the link between specific weight and the starch content in grain.”

Graham Jellis, Director of Research and Development at HGCA urges growers to use the findings of this research when negotiating contracts.

“Its still important for farmers to supply grain of good quality, free from impurities. The time for negotiation is before a contract is settled,” he said.

He urged farmers to ensure terms on specific weight deductions are agreed before the contract is settled.

The research took place mainly at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Harper Adams University College, Shropshire and the Queens University Belfast.

Grain from at least four wheat varieties, Buster, Consort, Haven and Riband, was used as part of feeding trials with chickens, pigs and sheep.

The poultry-based research was the most extensive, involving the live weight gain, dry matter intake and live weight gain:feed ratio of 3600 birds.

The results showed that specific weight had no consistent effect on their performance.

Equally, specific weight had no effect on performance, diet digestibility or the energy value of wheat fed in trials with 954 nursery pigs and 14 ewes, at the University of Leeds.

The commercial implications are now being considered by the National Farmers Union and the UK Agricultural Supply Trade Association.

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