One of my favorite by-product feeds for cattle is wheat midds. They are a relatively “safe” by-product, which means there are few problems associated with their use. The by-product is high in energy, which comes from the high levels of digestible fiber and not from starch. As a result, there are few problems with acidosis or bloat, although cattle stools may be loose.
Midds generally consist of ground screenings from cleaning, particles of bran, germ, flour remnants, shorts, red dog and mill tailings. This amounts to as much as 30% of the whole wheat kernel with mostly the starch removed.
Some producers mistakenly believe wheat midds are an inferior product used to cheapen feeds. Midds are 14% or higher in protein and lower in energy than corn. They are similar in energy value to oats, but this value may vary depending on the variety of wheat, the different mills and the milling process.
Wheat midds contain higher levels of fiber, protein and minerals than the parent grain and have less starch and energy. Midds will typically contain 17-18% crude protein on a dry matter basis, which is intermediate between most feed grains and high-protein, oil seed by-product meals. The protein is considered fairly high in rumen degradability with a bypass value of only 23%.
Although high fiber levels are usually associated with low energy values, the fiber in wheat midds is highly digestible by ruminants. The particle size, however, is small. Therefore, the fiber is not as effective in rumen stimulation and buffering as long fiber from forages.
Wheat midds are high in macro and microminerals and are a good source of phosphorus (1%) and potassium. Like most grains, however, they are low in calcium. They're also a good source of some trace minerals that are low in forages, including copper, zinc, magnesium and selenium.
A Good Drought Feed
In this year of drought in the West, midds may be attractive as a calf creep due to their high level of protein, high fiber level and relative safety. I usually add a vitamin and mineral package, being particularly concerned about the calcium level, and pellet the midds to obtain an economical calf creep or a weaning pellet.
Also, to increase palatability and consumption of mineral mixes, I often use midds as the carrier, especially where additional phosphorus is needed. Some phosphorus sources are unpalatable, so midds add a palatable source in a product that we need to ensure consumption to get the benefits. In areas that receive a large amount of wind, some loss may be alleviated by adding 50-100 lbs. of liquid molasses to the mineral mix.
Cattle grazing low-quality roughages may increase consumption and fiber digestion by the addition of wheat midds in the diet. However, I usually do not recommend a level exceeding 0.75% of body weight.
I've found that one of the best uses of wheat midds is in purebred growing bulls and heifers. I use a bull developer with 14% protein and a base of mostly wheat midds. This is fed at the average rate of 15-16 lbs., but may be used at lower levels, as the sole supplement source for three to four months.
The bulls seem to grow well and not put on excessive fat. Following this, I switch them to a supplement that has the same specifications but more of the energy comes from corn. Animals tend to stall out after long periods of feeding wheat midds at a high level.
Wheat midds also can be used in feedlot situations but not more than 10% because performance may be reduced. They also are a good winter supplement for cows as both protein and energy are supplied. Six lbs. of wheat midds will replace about 3 lbs. of soybean meal.
Although wheat midds are a good feed, they're not the perfect feed. They must be priced competitively to be included in some diets. In the case of bulls, however, I would make an exception because of the many benefits and the safety factor.
David Wieland is a nutrition consultant specializing in cow/calf, feedlot and horses. Based in Shepherd, MT, he also publishes a subscription newsletter. Contact him at 406/373-5512 or [email protected].