Guide to sourcing local grain for feed

Farming Sectors
Guide to sourcing local grain for feed

Act now – plan your winter concentrate feed programme!

Quality assured Irish grain is excellent value for money – make the most of it to boost performance and profits!

You can source high energy concentrate feed and quality proteins for your winter feed programme from local grain farmers. Whole-crop cereals, grain and protein crops are available off the combine from local growers or through co-ops & merchants.

If purchasing a concentrate ration, insist on the maximum inclusion level of quality Irish cereals and proteins. Many imported feed ingredients are bi-products and are of inferior quality.

Download and print a guide to sourcing local feed grain

Need advice?

There are a range of processing and storage options for grain and protein crops. To assist you in choosing the most suitable option for your storage facilities/livestock enterprise, and to receive guidance on where grain is available in your local area and best feeding options, please call the Grain Feed Helpline.

Speak with nutritionists who can advise you:

Brian – 087 0626444
Aonghus – 087 2227869
Gerry – 087 9066478

Available between 9.00am – 5.00pm.

Take a look at your options

Whole-crop Options (all cereals)

  • Harvested when the grain is at the soft cheese/dough stage – crop dry matter content of 35% to 45%.
  • This is the only option where the cereal crop has been under-sown with grass.
  • Important to ensile well – use a recommended additive to reduce the risk of secondary fermentation.
  • Proper pit face management is essential (narrow pit face advisable).
  • No limit on the amount fed provided it is balanced properly for protein & minerals.
  • Can be used as the sole forage source for most livestock categories and as an alternative forage source to maize silage.
  • Harvested when the grain is at the semi-mature stage (hard cheese stage) – crop dry matter content of 55% to 65%.
  • Grain processing required using a secondary mill on the harvester.
  • Essential that a suitable additive is applied during ensiling.
  • Must be properly balanced for protein and minerals as it is a low protein forage.
  • Harvested at a higher dry matter than fermented whole-crop – crop dry matter content of 70% to 85%.
  • Crop must be fully mature and sprayed off prior to harvest.
  • Ensure the grains are cracked or milled during harvest.
  • Urea based additives are applied during ensiling to ensure preservation and pit face stability when opened.
  • Has a higher protein content than fermented whole-crop silage.
  • Is a high pH forage – reducing the risk of acidosis and digestive upsets.

Whole-grain processing and storage options

The processing and storage of grain can be done on-farm using simple and effective methods. Grain today can be harvested at a wider range of moisture contents and stored safely for long periods either as whole grain or processed grain ready for feeding.

Weather conditions and the moisture content of the grain at harvest will determine the most suitable processing and storage option. Native grain and protein crops are available for purchase throughout the feeding season on a spot or forward contract basis.

Proper hygiene is critical for all grain and feed storage. Stores should be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and sanitised prior to filling. Ensure the area is free from dampness, condensation and mould.

It is important to adhere to proper health and safety procedures when using grain preservatives and operating grain processing equipment.

  • Narrow harvest window – cut 2-3 weeks before main harvest.
  • Optimum grain moisture content – 27% to 35%.
  • Lightly roll or crimp the grain and apply a proven additive at the recommended rate.
  • Compact, roll & cover.
  • Can be stored indoor or outdoor (“sausage bags” are becoming more popular) – protect from birds & vermin.
  • Storage period – 4 to 6 months.
  • Where possible create a narrow pit face to ensure proper pit face management.
  • Essential to establish moisture content where grain is being purchased.
  • Wide harvest window – cut when grain is fully ripe.
  • Optimum grain moisture content – 14% to 20%.
  • Grain can be treated and stored as whole or rolled.
  • Can be stored indoor or outdoor.
  • Additive enhances grain protein levels by 4 to 5 percentage points.
  • Storage period – up to 12 months.
  • High pH feed – allows grain to be fed at higher rates (can be fed ad-lib).
  • Treat grain/beans using an approved organic acid (N.B. check ADR compliance).
  • Optimum grain/bean moisture content – 13% to 25%.
  • Application rates vary according to grain/bean moisture content and product used.
  • Acid is applied to whole or rolled grains and rolled beans prior to storing.
  • Necessary to store indoors with no exposure to moisture.
  • Storage period – 4 to 6 months, depending on application rate.
  • Optimum grain moisture content – 14% to 16%.
  • Peas and beans moisture content – 16% to 18%.
  • Aeration necessary to store grain properly at these moisture levels.
  • Coarsely roll the grain. Feeding finely rolled grain increases the risk of acidosis so avoid fine rolling if possible.
  • Introduce cereals gradually where high levels are being fed to avoid acidosis.
  • Can be included in all dry feed mixes.
  • Storage period – can be stored as whole grain throughout the year.
  • Grain is cleaned, screened and toasted with the moisture content reduced down to 12% to 13%.
  • Can be carried out at any time, provided the grain has been stored correctly.
  • Toasting improves grain digestibility and extends storage life.
  • This treatment option allows for higher feeding rates compared to dry rolled grain

Feed recommendations

Ingredient % of mix
Crimped wheat 75%
Crimped beans 25%
Ingredient % of mix
Rolled alkaline treated barley 40%
Toasted wheat 25%
Rolled beans 10%
Rolled oats 20%
Molasses 5%
Ingredient % of mix
Rolled barley 50%
Rolled oats 20%
Rolled beans 25$
Molasses 5%
Ingredient % of mix
Rolled beans 15%
Rolled oats 20%
Rolled alkaline treated barley/wheat 48%
Soya bean meal 17%
Ingredient % of mix
Rolled beans 10%
Rolled oats 20%
Dry rolled barley 30%
Alkaline treated wheat 30%
Soybean meal 10%
Beet pulp 10%
Ingredient % of mix
Whole oats 25%
Rolled barley 60%
Soybean meal 15%
  • These feed recommendations are guidelines and may vary depending on factors such as forage quality, grain moisture and animal type.
  • It is essential to include appropriate high quality mineral/vitamin supplements with all rations.
  • Some additional on-farm work is involved when using straights but significant cost savings can be achieved.
  • Where cereal concentrates are being fed at high levels, introduce them gradually and split feeds between morning and evening.
  • All rations should be supplemented with sufficient long fibre, the best source of which is cereal straw.
  • Take the necessary health and safety precautions when processing and storing grain.
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