Wheat straw has turned into a stronger market of its own in recent years, as a food source for farm animals. But little has been known about the fiber and nutritive value of this part of the wheat crop.
In 2018, the Michigan Wheat Program funded a one-year study to provide some information for wheat farmers looking to market to the livestock industry.
By Dr. Dale Rozeboom
The wheat straw market is strengthening, and one of the potential new uses is for feeding wheat fiber to young pigs to improve their efficiency and resilience. While there has been some research on feeding processed/unprocessed wheat to newly weaned pigs, Dr. Rozeboom’s 2018 project funded by the Michigan Wheat Committee was the first to look at possible benefits at weaning.
The “treated wheat” option consists of using steam, hydrochloric acid and calcium hydroxide to create partly hydrolyzed straw meal, which Rozeboom added to one research group’s diet. The other group of young pigs received untreated wheat straw at weaning, and the control did not receive any wheat straw. Other dietary nutrient requirements were met or exceeded.
The purpose of adding wheat fiber to the young pigs’ diet was to explore how this type of natural additive would strengthen (or not) their digestive systems during the touchy weaning transition, given that society is moving the swine industry away from microbial inputs.
This one-year project found some localized and systemic immunological benefits young pigs from incorporating wheat straw, perhaps more so with the treated wheat straw.
Click below to review the 2021 PowerPoint slides and 2022 final report.