Feeding Wheat Middlings to Poultry

Small and Backyard Flocks May 05, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Wheat middlings (also known as wheat midds) are a by-product of wheat milling. During milling, 70 to 75 percent of the wheat grain becomes flour, and the remaining 25 to 30 percent results in by-products. Wheat middlings consist of fine particles of wheat bran, wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour, and some of the by-product from the tail of the mill. Wheat middlings cannot contain more than 9.5 percent crude fiber and must have minimums of 14 percent protein and 3 percent fat.

As is common with by-products, the nutritive value of wheat middlings varies considerably. The nutrient content varies with the variety of wheat milled and the type of milling process used. Typically, nutrient variation of wheat middlings from a single source is low. When changing from one supplier to another, however, it is best to analyze the product for protein and fiber content.

Surprisingly, little published information is available regarding the feeding of wheat middlings to poultry. Early research suggested that wheat middlings can serve as an alternative to corn in layer diets when included to at least 43 percent. The current interest in wheat middlings is in their use as a nonfeed removal method for molting laying hens. Wheat middlings are a bulky, low-nutrient-density feedstuff. Feeding more than 89 percent wheat middlings has been shown to put a flock of laying hens out of egg production. Research also has shown, however, that the level of hunger in hens given wheat middlings to induce a molt is the same as in hens deprived of feed.

There has been interest in using wheat middlings to control odors in a poultry house as well. Including about 7 percent wheat middlings in layer diets has been shown to reduce ammonia emissions without a loss in egg production.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.