With the recent upturn in corn prices, pork producers are considering alternative feed ingredients. Research shows that wheat is a viable energy source for pigs, but little information is available on using this feedstuff in pork production operations today.
Hans Stein, University of Illinois swine nutritionist, has released a new brochure on “Feeding Wheat to Pigs.”
“Our goal is to increase awareness of wheat as an alternative feed,” Stein says. “We want to inform producers of the advantages of feeding wheat as well as considerations they will need to keep in mind if they choose to feed it.”
Wheat is higher in protein than corn and comparable in energy. It can be an economical choice in wheat-producing areas, in areas where corn is scarce or when the price of soybean meal or other protein sources is high.
“Pigs fed wheat-based diets can grow as efficiently and with similar meat quality as pigs fed corn-based diets when digestible energy and amino acids are equalized,” Stein notes. “Wheat’s nutritional value allows producers to pay slightly more per bushel for wheat than for corn.” Stein encourages producers to compare prices throughout the year.
“In Illinois, this can be the best time of the year to purchase wheat for use in a swine diet,” he adds. “Oftentimes local wheat prices are attractive when compared with corn when wheat has been harvested but new corn is still not available.”