Comparing wheat prices to those of corn throughout the year can pay off. When local wheat prices are attractive, you may want to consider replacing the corn in swine diets.  Wheat provides a good feeding value for pigs; in fact, it’s the primary feedstuff for swine in many parts of the world.

Wheat contains more phosphorus and slightly better protein levels than corn, according to Steve Dritz, DVM, Kansas State University swine nutritionist. “With wheat-based diets, you can use more synthetic amino acids,” he adds. “The drawback is that the energy level is lower than corn.”

When feeding wheat-based diets, make sure you account for digestible energy and that you formulate the diet on an amino-acid-ratio basis. In addition, also take into account the higher phosphorus level to capture the economic benefit available.

Wheat milling byproducts known as middlings, or midds, can be evaluated for use in swine diets. When feeding any alternative ingredient, however, it’s important to know the effects on pig performance and carcass characteristics.

Kansas State researchers compared performance of pigs fed diets containing 20 percent wheat midds with performance of pigs receiving corn/soybean meal diets with 15 percent distillers’ dried  grains with solubles. To increase the energy content of the diets containing wheat midds, choice white grease was added at 2.5 percent or 5 percent.

It was found that the diets containing wheat midds resulted in reduced pig performance, reduced carcass yield, reduced carcass weight and higher jowl fat iodine value. Adding choice white grease helped mitigate the negative impact on performance in pigs receiving the wheat midds; however, it did not eliminate the negative impact on carcass yield, carcass weight and jowl fat iodine value.

The study shows that while adding wheat midds to swine diets at 20 percent decreased the feed cost per pig and feed cost per pound of gain, it also resulted in less revenue and reduced profitability. Adding choice white grease led to a tendency for decreased income over feed cost.

While wheat or wheat byproducts may be a suitable addition to swine feeds, the effect on pig performance and profitability must be carefully examined before making a commitment.