16 August 2002

Maximise use of wheat in cattle rations

SELECTING wheat on protein content and variety type will allow producers to maximise its use in cattle rations this winter, according to ADAS researcher Angela Moss.

Not all wheats are the same in terms of nutritive value, says Dr Moss. "Protein levels can be between 8% and 16%, affecting total ration protein levels when fed at high levels."

Protein content largely depends on growing conditions and what the crop is grown for. Hard bread making wheat is normally grown with extra nitrogen fertiliser inputs compared with soft biscuit-making wheat, she says.

"Its worth having wheat anal-ysed for protein and starch content before purchasing it for winter feeding. The current use of specific weight for assessing grain is a poor indicator of nutritive value."

To maximise wheat use in rations, she recommends considering wheat type. Soft wheat varieties tend to be more slowly fermented in the rumen than hard wheats at a similar crude protein content.

Higher nitrogen wheat also tends to be more slowly degraded when compared with low nitrogen wheat, says Dr Moss.

"Therefore, a low nitrogen soft wheat, which is more rapidly fermented is more appropriate for maize silage based rations, as it complements the more slowly fermented maize starch."

But she advises using a mix of soft and hard wheat to provide a range of fermentation rates for grass silage-based rations. &#42

Wheat types

Hard Soft

Malacca Consort

Hereward Riband

Charger Claire