WHEAT – PLENTY OF CHOICE FOR 2017
As many of our readers will be aware, wheat is the largest arable crop that is grown in the UK. It covers approximately 1.9 million hectares (4.6 million acres) in the UK. This equates to between 12-18 million tonnes a year depending on climate and growing conditions. The majority of this, about 60%, is grown in Eastern and South-Eastern counties.
The wheat grown in the UK falls into two categories, depending on its quality. First, wheat that goes into feeding animals. Second, wheat that goes into milling for flour, bread and biscuit manufacturing. The quality is based on protein levels, dry matter and density of bulk grains (bushel weight).
Milling wheat has a bushel weight of 76Kgs and a protein level of 13%. All parcels are tested, and if a test result falls below either of these specifications then the sample drops to feed standard which is – bushel weight 72Kgs and protein level 9-10%. A low bushel weight normally indicates a lower energy level.
Fortunately, protein levels across both categories are relatively high this year and price difference between feed and milling wheat specifications is at about £15-£20 per tonne.
Our advice is to source well. Don’t feed your game birds wheat that: is above 15% moisture, has a slight ‘nose’ to it, that has started to sprout or that is discoloured or shrivelled. This could lead to a range of issues. First, it could go off before or during use – which can lead to your birds contracting respiratory disease. And, if discoloured it may have a light bushel weight, meaning it is low in energy.
As a result of the weather, and according to our sources, approximately 20-25% of milling wheat in the South will be downgraded to feed – quality in the North appears to be fine so far. This is a good result for gamekeepers and gives us a greater choice in finding good samples.
Also, it is worth considering, when feeding barley to ducks, many samples aren’t making malting barley specifications. Price difference is currently £25-£27 per tonne difference. So, plenty of choice for this year’s grain feeding.