An evaluation of soda-treated wheat for beef cattle


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 January 1992 - 31 December 1992
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£3,085 From HGCA (Project no. 0083/1/91)
Project leader:
H F Grundy ADAS Rosemaund



About this project


A total of 40 Charolais x Friesian steers were fed ad libitum maize silage supplemented with either caustic soda (NaOH) treated wheat or an untreated rolled wheat ration. Both supplementary rations comprised 2.0 kg of wheat dry matter + 1.2 kg of rapeseed meal dry matter per head per day. The experiment design was randomised complete blocks with four pen replicates of five steers on each of two treatments. The feeding period was from 13 months of age to slaughter.

Rates of live-weight gain were similar for both treatment groups and were 1.38 and 1.41 kg/head/day (SED 0.066) for the NaOH-treated and rolled wheat rations respectively. Similarly there was no difference between treatments in number of days to sale (75.1 v 70.6 days, SED 7.15) or in sale weights (531.9 v 522.3 kg, SED 9.34). Cold carcase weights (285.1 v 279.1 kg, SED 5.30) and dressing proportions, (0.536 v 0.534, SED 0.0040) were also similar for both treatments, as were EC carcase gradings. However, daily intakes of silage dry matter were 9% greater for steers fed NaOH-treated wheat (4.77 v 4.36 kg, SED 0.100), but food conversion efficiency (5.68 v 5.32 kg of DM per kg of live-weight gain, SED 0.312) was similar for both treatment groups. Although the difference in feed conversion efficiency was not large enough to achieve statistical significance at the 5% level of probability, it was sufficient to eliminate any potential improvement in live-weight gain expected from the increased dry matter intake by the NaOH treatment group. It is concluded that the steers fed NaOH-treated wheat utilised the ingested energy less efficiently than those fed rolled wheat.