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More pig and poultry producers are showing interest in the benefits of including hybrid rye in feed rations. Hybrid rye delivers benefits for pig and poultry rations

More pig and poultry producers are showing interest in the benefits of including hybrid rye in feed rations.

The benefits of feeding rye are well-established across the world. Rye is already widely used in farm-produced pig diets in Denmark, Germany, Russia, Poland and Spain. Now more UK producers are following suit.

“Major improvements have been recorded in performance, health, behaviour and welfare in pigs from five weeks of age to fatteners – both in controlled conditions and commercial situations,” says Richard Grone, a veterinarian employed by seed breeder KWS.

UK trials with ABN to assess how rye affects performance show  it can be included in finishing pig diets at rates of up to 60% – with promising results on growth rate, feed intake and Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR).

“Hybrid rye can be substituted one-to-one for wheat and barley.”

‘Many possibilities’

This means rye offers many possibilities for feed compounders and producers. It can be fed as meal, liquid or pellet-based feed. It is high in dietary fibre, which promotes satiety, gut health and calm behaviour.

“It can also boost energy supply at farrowing and its levels of arabinoxylan, which is converted to butyrate in the animal’s hind gut, far exceed those of wheat.

Rye is 2%-3% lower in crude protein than wheat, yet offers an excellent amino acid profile, particularity lysine.

“Hybrid rye also delivers nitrogen and agrochemical savings without compromising yields, while its straw acts as a novel stimulus and helps to further reduce aggression.”

‘Exciting development

Aside from being effective in pig rations, a 14-month study involving 16,000 egg laying hens recently delivered positive results for rye too.

Trials suggest egg producers can be confident that feeding rye to hens up to 25% has no adverse reaction.

Working with feed producer Harbro and egg producer Jonathan Stoke, KWS conducted a trial comparing a wheat based ration with a ration where rye replaced wheat up to 25%.

According to Dominic Spurrier, KWS UK rye product manager, over the course of the study no material differences between the two rations were found.

“From hen health through egg numbers, egg size and quality and litter waste, there were no differences between the two 8000 bird flocks,” explains Mr Spurrier.

Historically egg producers have been reluctant to include rye, thinking there may be a detrimental effect on egg production, in terms of egg numbers, size and shell strength.

In fact, rye can be beneficial.The cost of feeding rye is lower and – much more importantly – supermarkets and other egg retailers are increasingly looking to products that have lower carbon footprints to meet the UK’s 2030 targets.

“The agronomic advantages of hybrid rye together with its very low nitrogen requirement mean the carbon footprint of eggs produced from rye-based feeds could be significantly lower than with conventional diets.”

Nitrogen efficiency

This lower nitrogen requirement has been demonstrated in trials by KWS and NIAB. Hybrid rye variety Tayo delivered outstanding Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE), explains KWS technical trials manager Olivia Potter.

Applications as low as 80kg N/ha produced near 11t/ha yields, she explains, says Ms Potter.

“In one trial in North Walsham, Norfolk, Tayo produced the same 10.84t/ha yield from both 80kg N/ha and 120kg N/ha fertiliser regimes underlining the crop’s potential to help growers make major cost savings.

“Hybrid rye has a lot going for it in terms of marketing opportunities, benefits to the rotations and drought resistance, but it’s ability to produce high yields from relatively modest amounts of applied nitrogen is making it increasingly attractive.”

Less fertiliser

“We’ve known for some time that fertiliser requirements with rye can be roughly half that of a second wheat with savings of 100kg N/ha and more being achievable, but Tayo seems to be capable of taking this even lower.

“In comparison to second wheat grown for feed which is likely to require around 220kg N/ha, hybrid rye would typically require just 120kg N/ha, but Tayo is showing the potential to cut this by a further third.

“When you consider milling wheat needs around 280kg N/ha, the opportunity to produce high yields of high value hybrid rye from 200kg N/ha less is very compelling.”