Published 06.01.2023

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Report: Dehulled oats for organic livestock

Feed mixtures for pigs and poultry can benefit from mixing with dehulled oats

Dehulled oats have a relatively high content of sulfur-containing amino acids, which has been confirmed in field experiments in 2020. Analysis results from 2021 are more uncertain. The amino acid composition has only been affected to a limited extent by levels of organic manure supplied in the field trials.

The report demonstrates how feeding plans can be optimized with dehulled oats and the necessary amino acid content without oversupplying protein.

Report - dehulled oats for organic livestock (PDF, 12 pages - in Danish)

Feed mixtures can benefit from mixing with dehulled oats

Outlined feeding plans show that feed mixtures for hens and pigs can benefit from including dehulled oats as an important component. However, with the price relations that applied in autumn 2021, the calculations have only shown a marginally positive effect on the feed price, but the calculations have shown great advantages from the use of dehulled oats on the amino acid balance of the feed. This means that the protein content of the feed can be lowered.

Expected effects of feeding dehulled oats to pigs and poultry:

  • Better productivity
  • Better animal welfare
  • A significant reduction of environmental impact in the form of lower N and NH3 emissions

Hulls for bedding and feed for pigs

The hulls have no direct value, but experience from practice shows that they can be useful as bedding and feed for pigs.

Oats are a cultivation-proof organic crop

Oats are cultivation-proof organic crops - it is healthy, has good competitiveness against weeds, good pre-crop value and a good feed value in dehulled form. The dehulled oats have a protein con-tent higher than wheat.

Compared to wheat protein, the oat protein has a higher content of the essential and sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine, which makes the dehulled oats very interesting as feed for monogastric animals. Monogastric animals need a balanced content of essential amino ac-ids in the feed to avoid oversupply of protein.

Oversupply and insufficient supply of protein

Oversupply of protein leads to nitrogen surplus in the feed and thus an increased environmental im-pact. Insufficient supply of essential amino acids may on the other hand result in reduced animal welfare (e.g., expressed as feather pecking in poultry). Obtaining enough methionine for pig feed mixtures is challenging. In poultry, methionine and cysteine are the biggest challenge.

Need for alternative feed components 

In contrast to conventional producers, organic producers are not able to use free amino acids in the feed. Further, the possibility of using conventional feed with a high content of sulfur-containing amino acids is being phased out.

Consequently, there is a need for alternative feed components to satisfy the animals' need for essen-tial amino acids and to reduce dependence on imported soya. Targeted efforts are being made to replace soy protein with pea, faba bean, lupine or grass protein in feed for poultry and pigs, but there is a shortage of the sulphur-containing amino acids.

Oats can reduce the overall environmental impact

By using dehulled oats it is possible to reduce the overall environmental impact of the production. Their relatively high content of the essential amino acids makes dehulled oats an important feed supplement, which potential use could enable a reduction in the amount of surplus protein.