Feeding of Wheat to Beef Cattle

US - Producers have been asking questions about feeding wheat to beef calves. Wheat can be an excellent ration ingredient, but a few cautions are in order.
calendar icon 25 August 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

Wheat does need to be coarsely processed prior to feeding. According to Australian research, whole wheat has a digestibility of about 60 percent compared to 86 percent for dry-rolled wheat. Grinding wheat will generally result in excess fines causing potential for bloat, founder and acidosis.

Wheat should be limited to 1 percent or less of the animal’s body weight with growing cattle. This is due to the fact that wheat starch is rapidly fermented in the rumen and rapid fermentation can lead to digestive upsets as well as bloat, founder and acidosis.

Light test weight or sprouted wheat can be utilized in beef cattle rations. If these conditions are not excessive, the feed value of this wheat will be similar to corn or grain sorghum. Damaged wheat must be stored carefully to ensure mold does not grow.

One hundred pounds of wheat has about the same protein and energy as 92 pounds of corn and 8 pounds of 48 percent soybean meal. If corn is priced at $7/bushel and soybean meal costs $450/ton, the breakeven price for wheat is approximately $7.90/bushel.

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