Wheat vs.Oats (both grain & straw)

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First I'm not interested in grinding any grain (ie. flour). On the point of nutrition, & taste, which grain (wheat & oats of any kind) is better for stock? (ie. chickens, cattle, pigs, etc..) For example, which grain has more proteen, & which one do most stock prefer the taste of?

On the subject of straw (wheat vs oats), which one is better for bedding? Is one more absorbant then the other? Which one is better for mulch/compost? Will one compost faster then the other?



-- animalfarms (jwlewis@indy.net), May 23, 2001


Oats is the traditional feed for most farm stock, and I do know that you should not feed wheat to horses, or other single stomached animals as the gluten in it masses up in a ball and can cause severe colic and impactions. Basically, the wheat, after the animal chews it up, forms a ball similar to dough, like when you make bread. Oats has very little gluten, and does not do the "dough" thing in the gut, and that is why the wheat has more protein than oats, the more gluten in the wheat, the higher the protein level. Oats has plenty enough protein level for all farm stock, they do not need any higher protein than good quality oats provide, usually 10% to 12%. Oats also has a higher fiber level, which is imperative to proper digestion in grass eating animals especially. Finally, all farm animals prefer the taste of oats much better than wheat, even chickens, which eat anything practically!

For bedding, oats straw is safer to use, as animals will sometimes eat wheat straw, and that is too much empty fiber! The two are about the same in absorbancy, although I suspect that wheat straw will compost faster than oat straw.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), May 23, 2001.

Morrisons Feeds and Feeding Appendix rates digestible protein of wheat at 11.1%, oats from 7.0 to 9.4%. This may be enough protein for backyard hobby animals, but not for good production. Laying hens need at least 16% protein and at peak laying should get 20%. Growing lambs, beef calves need 16% or more protein. Lactating cows need 16% minimum for good milk production. Taste or preference of the animal varies and will likely depend on what they are used to and how well fed they are. When they get hungry most animals will eat anything. For a good grounding in animal nutrition, I would recommend getting a copy of Feeds and Feeding by Morrison. The appendix alone is worth having. It lists the average composition and digestible nutrients of almost every ingredient of animal feed you might be interested in. I see them for sale on EBAY frequen

-- D.Macfarlane (scott@micronet.net), May 24, 2001.

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