Feeding wheat to stretch beef rations

For the most part, the feeding value of wheat and corn are equivalent, but a wheat-for-corn ration should be introduced gradually and be carefully balanced.

Wheat and corn are both very palatable and are excellent sources of digestible energy for cattle. Wheat and corn have about the same level of minerals, vitamins and crude protein, with wheat a little higher in crude protein.

When starting cattle on a diet containing wheat, introduce it more slowly than corn, bringing them gradually up to full feed over 25-30 days. Wheat fed to beef cattle should also be rolled or coarsely ground. When wheat is fed at high levels to beef cattle, acidosis and rumen upset may occur, resulting in cattle going off-feed, reducing performance, founder and other problems. It is generally recommended that wheat should not make up more than 40 percent of the total ration on a dry matter basis.

The ration costs for beef cattle can be further reduced by substituting hay with barley, wheat, oat or corn stalks for corn silage every other day. But be sure the protein level in the ration remains constant.

For feedlot cattle weighing over 600 pounds, NPN products, such as urea, may be substituted for soybean meal. One pound of urea contains about the same crude protein equivalent as six pounds of soybean meal.