NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
March 19, 1998
A new variation on an old grain is showing promise in pig-feeding trials at North Dakota State University.
Swine nutritionist Bob Harrold fed growing-finishing pigs diets containing naked oats and barley and found good growth and performance. In fact, pigs on naked-oats-only diets performed similarly to pigs on all-corn diets. Unlike traditional oats, naked (or hull-less oats) lose their hull during harvest.
"We're looking to optimize the use of some of these northern-grown grains," Harrold explains. "We felt that naked oats, with high protein and energy levels, would be a good complement to barley." Naked oats are very palatable with high-quality protein, Harrold says.
Harrold presented the results of his research at the joint Midwest meeting of the American Society of Animal Science and the American Dairy Science Association in Des Moines, Iowa, March 16 - 18.
Only a limited amount of naked oats has been planted since 1994 when NDSU oat breeders released Paul, the first commercially available variety of the crop. Although the crop requires some adjustments in planting and fertilization compared to typical oats, it is attracting attention from Northern Plains farmers who are accustomed to growing small grains. In traditional oats, up to 25 percent of the yield is hulls. Without the hulls, naked oats pack more of a nutritional punch in a smaller package, making them easier to ship. They also require less processing for some applications. Producers are searching for a high-value market for the crop to make up for its yield, which is significantly lower than that of traditional oats.
One such market may be in livestock feed, NDSU research is showing. Early research feeding the crop to young pigs at NDSU's Dickinson Research Extension Center and beef cattle at the university's Carrington Research Extension Center have shown promise.
In Harrold's trials, pigs were raised from about 55 pounds to about 240 pounds. Average daily gains for pigs on naked oats were similar to gains seen in pigs on corn dietsbut the pigs gained more weight with less feed when fed naked oats.
Carcass measurements of lean gain and other characteristics were also similar to pigs fed corn. There's a possibility carcass characteristics could be improved by fine-tuning the diet, Harrold says. Higher nutrient concentrations might boost carcass characteristics of pigs fed diets high in naked oats.
"The bottom line is, pigs on the naked oat diets gained like crazy," Harrold said. "We were very competitive in regard to animal performance."
Adding barley to the diet cut average daily gain, but not excessively. More importantly, it cut the cost of the ration.
"Our goal is to come up with a low-cost ration that's comparable in performance and price to corn," Harrold explained. That means other grains like barley could be added to the ration to balance nutrients and cost.
Source: Bob Harrold (701) 231-7659
Editor: Tom Jirik (701) 231-9629