Most general purpose barley is used as feed for livestock. In Alberta, as much as 80 per cent of all barley grown in Alberta every year is used as feed. Much of that is used by Alberta’s cattle industry, resulting in beef that is finely textured and delicately marbled with white fat. Barley is also used to feed hogs, poultry and sheep in Alberta.
In Alberta, barley is considered ideal feed for livestock for several reasons:
- It has the genetic diversity to perform well in many of the province’s growing conditions
- It is an excellent source of energy (starch)
- It contains more protein than corn (which is also widely used for livestock feed)
- It has a higher level of starch digestion in ruminants than corn (despite having a lower starch content)
- It can be the total grain portion for beef cattle and dairy cows
If you intend to use hulless barley for animal feed—as hulless varieties can fall under both the general purpose and food classifications—Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) recommends that the barley should contain no more than:
- 15 per cent hulls (57.6 lb/bu)
- 10 per cent sprouted kernels
- 15 per cent broken kernels
- 0.5 per cent heated, rotted or mildewed kernels
Alberta Barley recognizes that livestock feeders need higher-yielding, more digestible feed barley for Canada’s meat sector to remain competitive. To that end, it supports several feed barley research projects.