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Hybrid rye is increasingly being seen as bringing significant benefits to pig and poultry rations as well as having major agronomic benefits for growers... Hybrid rye brings benefits to pig and poultry rations

Hybrid rye is increasingly being seen as bringing significant benefits to pig and poultry rations as well as having major agronomic benefits for growers with its low nitrogen requirement and tolerance to increasingly frequent drought conditions.

The earlier advantages seen when rye is fed to pigs are now being added to following results seen in trials by KWS and feed producer Harbro with 16,000 egg laying hens.

The trial compared a wheat-based ration with one where rye replaced the wheat by up to 25% with no material differences between the two rations being found, explains KWS UK’s Dominic Spurrier.

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

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

“From this data egg producers can be confident that feeding rye to hens up to 25% has no adverse reaction.

“This benefits egg production because firstly the costs of feeding rye are lower but, much more importantly, supermarkets and other sellers of eggs are increasingly looking for 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.”

Established benefits

KWS veterinarian Richard Grone says the benefits of feeding rye in pig production have been confirmed all over the world in recent years. It is widely used in farm-produced pig diets in Denmark, Germany, Russia, Poland and Spain with growing interest in the UK.

“Trials to assess how the inclusion of rye in pig diets affects performance have shown promising results on growth rate, feed intake and Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR).

“Major improvements in performance, health, behaviour, and welfare have also been recorded in pigs from five weeks of age to fatteners, both in controlled conditions and commercial situations.”

Latest trials carried out in the UK with ABN have shown hybrid rye can successfully be included in finishing pig diets at rates of up to 60%, he explains.

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

Nitrogen efficiency

According to KWS technical trials manager Olivia Potter, trials with the hybrid rye variety Tayo have shown outstanding Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) results.

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.

“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.”