Saturday, October 19, 2019

Elsoms targets pig sector with hybrid rye variety

October 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Livestock

A new trial is investigating the benefits of including hybrid rye in finisher pig diets when it replaces conventional feed crops such as wheat or barley in rations.

Commissioned by plant breeder Elsoms Seeds, the six-month trial started last month. It is being conducted by Helen Miller, head of animal bioscience and pig research group leader at Leeds University Farms.

Starting at 20% rye replacement of conventional cereals – and rising to 100% replacement in five 20% increments – the trial will assess 12 key performance indicators on batches of finisher pigs weighing between 35kg and 105kg over six months.

Positive results

The indicators include feed intake, weight gain, gut health, animal behaviour and both carcase and meat quality. A goal is to replicate positive results achieved in Germany during a similar trial by seed breeder Saaten Union under UK trial conditions.

“We will also be looking closely at the reduction of nitrogen in slurry from pigs fed on rye, a key benefit to the environment in respect of the nutrient management directive concerning nitrate vulnerable zones,” says Elsoms energy and forage crop manager Heather Oldfield.

“Based on existing research from our European breeding partner Saaten Union we know rye has much to offer, particularly the new hybrid rye variety SU Bendix, which has the best nitrogen to protein conversion rate.”

For growers producing rye specifically for the pig feed market, SU Bendix is a very clean variety with a high protein content that produces the low levels of nitrogen. But Ms Oldfield said it was important to achieve results under UK trial conditions before the research was presented.

Agronomic performance

“With less nitrogen going into the pig there is less coming out and we see this as an important new benefit for UK farmers, many of whom are already under regulatory pressure to reduce their nitrogen footprint” she added.

Although SU Bendix will be going forward into UK descriptive list trials later this year, it has been trialled by Elsoms in the UK during the last two years. Early results suggest the variety offers good yield stability and brown rust resistance across a wide range of soils.

“In most growing conditions we recommend 150kg N/ha for SU Bendix, applied in two split applications,” said Ms Oldfield. “As with most hybrid rye crops you will need to apply 1-2 plant growth regulators and be wary of disease pressure from brown rust.”

Results from the Leeds University Farms trial results are expected to be published next May. The goal then is for Elsoms to establish SU Bendix as the first choice hybrid rye variety for use in UK pig rations.

Ms Oldfield said: “Rye has significant agronomic, environmental and financial benefits to growers as well as health and welfare benefits to pigs including improved gut health which could also potentially lead to a reduction in use of antibiotics.”

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