The Ontario Wheat Producers' Marketing Board reports that sprouting of white winter wheat has been significant in some regions, resulting in supplies of downgraded feed wheat. Sprouted wheat can be used effectively in rations for grower-finisher pigs and dry sows.

The feeding value of sprouted wheat for pigs is not significantly different from that of regular wheat. Research in France by Gatel and Bourdon (1989) has shown that feeding value of sprouted wheat was the same, or even slightly better, than that of regular soft wheat. Depending on the degree of sprouting, energy content of the wheat may be reduced by up to 10 percent. This reduction in energy in sprouted wheat should not have a negative influence on growth rate but it will cause pigs to have poorer feed efficiency. Sprouting has little influence on the quantity or quality of protein or amino acids in wheat. Interestingly, the phosphorus in sprouted wheat may even be more available to pigs.

Diets containing wheat should be balanced on a lysine basis. Good performance usually results when wheat replaces 50% of the corn in the diet. However, it is possible to feed wheat up to 100% of the grain portion in the diet and get good performance. It is very important when using wheat in the ration to pay close attention to processing. Grind wheat-based diets coarsely (i.e. through a 4.5 to 6.4 mm screen) to avoid dustiness and increase palatability.

It is also important to be aware that sprouted wheat may contain mycotoxins. The same weather conditions which cause sprouting also encourage mold growth. Producers who want to feed home-grown wheat should check their fields for fusarium mold before harvest. If mold is present, they should test a sample for vomitoxin, which reduces feed intake and results in poor growth performance at levels as low as 1 ppm. Producers with sows should also test for zearalenone, which affects reproduction at levels as low as 0.5 ppm. Producers who are considering the purchase of sprouted wheat should also have samples tested for mycotoxins.