Barley

Barley grain is characterized by a thick fibrous coat, a high level of ß-glucans and simply-arranged starch granules. In comparison with corn, barley has more protein, methionine, lysine, cysteine and tryptophan. For ruminants, barley is the third most readily degradable cereal behind oats and wheat. Due to its more rapid starch fermentation rate compared with corn, barley also provides a more synchronous release of energy and nitrogen, thereby improving microbial nutrient assimilation.  As a result, feeding barley can reduce the need for feeding protected protein sources. However, this benefit is only realized if rumen acidity is maintained within an optimal range (e.g., > 5.8 to 6.0); below this range, microbial maintenance requirements and wastage increase. With a low pH, microbial endotoxines cause pro-inflammatory responses that can weaken immunity and shorten animal longevity. However, it is doubtful if such processing can improve milk production and feed intake. In high-starch diets, barley feeding reduces the need for capacious small intestinal starch assimilation, subsequently reducing hindgut starch use and fecal nutrient loss.

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