Quote from Poultry Foods and Feeding...
I have always regarded wheat as the best
staple grain food for poultry. In many countries maize
(corn), rye, oats, and barley are chiefly used, as they
are often cheaper than wheat. The value of wheat,
however, is now more generally recognized, and, where
egg production is the main object, it is undoubtedly of
There are two main classes of wheat : the hard wheats
with high nitrogen content, and the soft, starchy grains,
generally a third lower in nitrogen. This point has not
been discussed in any book on stock feeding which I
have seen, and yet it is of manifest importance. A
hard wheat with a gluten content of from 12 to 16%
is a better flesh former and egg producer than is a soft,
starchy wheat averaging from 8 to 10% and in many
cases as low as 7% gluten.
When wheat and its mill products, such as bran,
pollard, and wheatmeal, form the main food of poultry,
it is important to know its chemical composition. Tables
such as are usually published can only serve as a very
general guide ; what is required is accurate information
as to local conditions and foods.
Wheat is low in fat, compared with some other grains
and seeds, and it is necessary to make up this deficiency.
It is within the experience of most feeders that when
laying fowls have been fed for a long period on an exclusive
diet of wheat and its mill products, great benefit
results, together with increased egg production, on
a change to, or large addition to the food of, maize,
which has a high fat content. This change is due to the
more natural and more complete metabolism, owing to
the restoration of the " fat " balance."'
The carbohydrate content of wheat varies in proportion
to the percentage of starch in the grainsoft wheats have
a higher starch content than have the hard varieties.
A rough-and-ready method of testing a wheat kernel
is by biting or cutting it in half. If the grain is starchy
the interior of the kernel will be soft, white and floury,
while if of high gluten content the fracture will be short
and the outer layers greyish crystalline, and the flour
area comparatively small.
The fiber content of wheat is low, and, as regards
poultry feeding, may be treated as of comparatively
little importance compared with such grains as barley
and oats. The water content varies according to climate,
and may in a dry climate average 10%, and in a moist
climate up to 15 %, or more.