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MANAGING THE HEAT IN WHEAT

Over the past 20 years, Canada’s barley acreage has shrunk by nearly 155,000 acres annually, while both wheat (up 440,000 acres annually) and corn (up 300,000 acres annually) have grown. A smaller barley supply has prompted Western Canadian cattle feeders to look at alternate grain sources. Cattle feeders in Central Canada and the U.S. have fed corn for many years, so a lot of scientific and practical information already existed to ease its adoption.

But there was less knowledge and experience when it came to feeding wheat. Nutritionists and cattle feeders know that wheat’s higher starch content increases the risk of digestive upsets like acidosis. They also know that red wheat (bread) varieties had more protein and a harder seed than white (pastry) varieties. These differences in protein content and hardness will impact how they respond to processing, as well as their nutritional value for different types of cattle.

Dr. Tim McAllister led a team of researchers from AAFC Lethbridge and the University of Saskatchewan to refine grain procurement, processing and management recommendations for including wheat in feedlot diets (Effect of dry or temper rolling of high- or low-protein wheat and its impact on rumen parameters, growth performance, and liver abscesses in feedlot cattle; https://doi.org/10.1139/cjas-2022-0110).

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