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Variability of Cereal Grains

8 November 2017

Cereal grains are essentially carbohydrate concentrates, the main dry matter component being starch which is concentrated in the endosperm of the grain.  Starch from cereal grains is the primary energy source for highly productive cattle.  Light grains have less starch, therefore less energy, in response cattle will eat more but the compensation is incomplete.  Another important consideration is the difference in protein content; on average wheat and barley grain have a higher protein than maize and oat grains.  The range within cereals in protein content is largely dependent on grain variety, therefore for intensive feeding it may be worth testing for nitrogen.  The above table shows the typical range for different cereal grains along with the average figures that are generally used for rationing.  Therefore, if cereal grains make up a large proportion of the ration it’s important to be aware of the difference in nutritive value.

Mary McDowell,

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