Canadian feed wheat rates high in quality survey

Canada’s feed wheat is top notch, according to a quality survey.

Canadian Bio-Systems (CBS) Inc. recently published the results of its third annual survey and once again it shows that protein levels are higher than many people realize.

“This wheat is a pretty good ingredient for livestock feed,” said Rob Patterson, technical director for CBS.

The feed wheat samples gathered from bins at feed mills and on large livestock operations in late 2016 had an average protein level of 14.3 percent.

Patterson said some mills and livestock farms incorporate soybean meal and animal protein into their hog and poultry rations because they mistakenly believe the feed wheat has much lower protein content.

“Maybe we haven’t been giving it as much credit as we ought to,” he said.

Augmenting rations with soybean meal can be an expensive proposition. And soybean meal prices can be volatile, nearly doubling in early 2016.

Using soybean meal from the United States might not be too costly for a farm in southern Manitoba but it is expensive for one near Edmonton due to transportation costs.

If you can use wheat sourced from a neighboring farm it is far more economical, which is why the survey results can be helpful to feed mills and livestock farms.

“They can take it for face value now and start lowering the cost of their rations,” said Patterson.

The Canadian Grain Commission publishes wheat quality data but it is focused on good quality wheat destined for export markets.

The CBS survey focuses on feed wheat and metrics that are of interest to users of the product, such as protein, starch, neutral detergent fibre, water soluble and water insoluble non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) as well as phytate and non-phytate phosphorus.

Canadian feed wheat has low levels of undesirable water soluble NSP compared to other feed ingredients with an average level of 2.1 percent.

“They cause digestibility problems,” said Patterson.

“It’s a mess for farmers to clean up the barns after and the animals don’t feel good.”

But wheat is high in overall NSP levels at eight to 8.75 percent compared to corn at about six percent. NSP is a component of fibre that is hard for animals to digest and it can trap protein like a cage.

CBS produces an enzyme that it sells to the feed industry that breaks down the fibre into digestible chunks and releases the trapped protein, allowing mills and farms to extract even more nutritive value out of feed wheat.

Patterson said Canadian feed wheat has been compared to samples from Argentina, Ukraine, Australia and the United States and comes out on top as having the most desirable overall profile of key nutrients.

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