Cereal grains are the primary energy source in swine rations. In corn belt states of the US, corn is the grain. However, in Oklahoma and other south-western states, sorghum grain (milo) has been the principal grain fed to swine, with wheat or corn replacing milo when price fluctuations justify the change.
This article discusses the relative value of these grains and contains a nomograph whereby one may easily determine which grain should be the best buy.
While most pork producers prefer corn as an energy source, other cereal grains are often a better buy. During the past few years, there have been periods where the most economical grain to feed swine has changed on a month-to-month basis.
Although milo has an average nutrient content similar to corn, a review of available literature indicates a wide range of nutritive content between different milo samples. Milo may vary from 7 to 12 percent crude protein.
Usually, pigs gain slightly slower and less efficiently on milo than corn. Research in Oklahoma and other states shows that milo has approximately 95 percent the energy value, and 92 percent the lysine value of corn.
Wheat is very similar in energy content to corn and milo. It is usually superior in crude protein and amino acid content. Research work at Oklahoma State University and other institutions has shown that wheat can be used very successfully as a swine feed when properly supplemented in the diet. Several experiments have shown that wheat has approximately 99 percent the energy value of corn.
The overall value of a grain has to include the relative value of each grain on the basis of energy content and protein, as well as amino acid content. Hence, since wheat is normally higher in crude protein and amino acid content than corn or milo, the relative value of wheat depends to some extent on the price of soymeal and other protein supplements.
A concern of pork producers in switching from one grain to another on the basis of economics is the effect of rapid change in feed ingredients on swine performance.
Research has shown that a weekly rotation of corn, milo, and wheat in diets for growing-finishing swine has little effect on performance. Results of two trials demonstrated that average daily gain, feed intake, feed efficiency and probed backfat thickness were nearly identical for pigs fed a constant standard milo diet as compared with those fed a diet in which the cereal grain (corn, wheat or milo) was rotated every seven days. This suggests that a pig does not need an adjustment period or gradual changes when changing grain sources.
It is important to balance swine rations for amino acids because the protein content of cereal grains is not directly proportional to amino acid content. Consequently, the protein content of these diets varies since wheat contains more crude protein than milo or corn. Even so, a certain amount of soymeal or high quality protein supplement is necessary to bring the lysine content of wheat diets up to a recommended level.
For more of the article, please click here.
Article made possible through the contribution of Oklahoma State University.