A collaborative research project through Bishop Burton College’s Centre for Agricultural Innovation, KWS and Agrii resulted in rye being used as a feed trial on the College Farm’s commercial finishing pig unit. The aim was to replicate a similar trial conducted in Denmark and to investigate if the rye based diet was as effective as the wheat based one when considering feed intake relative to weight gain.
If the results were to prove that rye was a valuable animal feed, rye, with its competitive growth habit, might become an attractive alternative crop to grow in areas with serious resistant black grass problems.
From the studies conducted, the Research Team found that there were no obvious differences in the consumption in the quantity of feed between the pigs fed on rye and those on wheat. Similarly, there was no significant difference in the growth rate or amount of back fat found on the carcasses from both groups.
Interestingly, the pigs fed on the rye based diet, displayed notably less aggressive behaviour and were less active. The behavioural study was conducted by third year BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Behaviour and Training student, Ellie Chapman and the findings were published in the Farmers Weekly in September 2017.
To strengthen the statistical evidence of the feed intake to weight gain trial further, additional trials are to be carried out on a larger scale investigating the optimum inclusion rate of rye in the diet and whether there is any impact on flavour.