MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US — Wheat can be used at a similar rate as corn when being fed to swine without a significant loss in diet energy density, providing a valuable nutrition source where wheat is readily available, according to updated standards published by Kansas State University (KSU) and Kansas Wheat.

Joel DeRouchey, a swine specialist for K-State Research and Extension, said data collected from 2014 to 2020 suggests that wheat’s mean energy content is 99% and 98% of corn for digestible energy and metabolizable energy, respectively.

“The use of wheat co-products for the milling industry is a common practice in feeding livestock,” DeRouchey said. “For wheat, there are many different classifications of co-products, such as wheat middlings, wheat millrun, wheat shorts and wheat red dog.”

KSU formed a partnership with Kansas Wheat to update what is known about the nutritional value of wheat and wheat co-products.

“Wheat milling co-products – including bran, middlings and shorts – provide good nutritional value,” said Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations for Kansas Wheat. “In particular, those products have high phosphorus content, which results in less supplemental phosphorus in the diet and reduced costs for the producer.”

The two organizations have published the updated research in three fact sheets now available online from KSU. The three publications are: “Wheat Nutritional Properties,” “Co-product Nutritional Properties” and “Off-quality utilization.”

DeRouchey said key findings in the fact sheets include:

  • Wheat contains higher levels of crude protein and amino acids compared to other cereal grains, which allows for less soybean meal inclusion in the diet;
  • Wheat’s standardized ileal digestibility of amino acids is similar to corn, but greater than barley and sorghum;
  • The phosphorus content of wheat is 0.27%, and has very high digestible phosphorus because it contains intrinsic phytase.
  • Pelleted wheat diets have been found to have significantly greater pellet durability index, as much as 33.1% compared to corn-based diets. 

“Even if wheat is not used as the main cereal grain (in a swine diet), it can be incorporated into diets as a pelleting aid,” DeRouchey said.

Wheat is a major cereal grain utilized in swine diets across the world, KSU said, and typically serves as a main cereal grain in Canadian, European and Australian swine diets. Although wheat is not as prevalent in US swine diets, it can still be incorporated, depending on availability and cost.

Harries said the updated findings on feeding wheat to swine provide valuable new information for swine feeders.

“It allows farmers to consider swine feeding as an alternative marketplace for their wheat,” he said.