Hulless barley creates excitement in hog industry
May 1, 2009, Saskatoon, Sask. – The University of Saskatchewan’s Crop
Development Centre in Saskatoon has released its recently registered
low phytate hulless barley as a public variety.
CDC Lophy-I was developed from germplasm obtained from plant breeders with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Aberdeen, Idaho almost 10 years ago.
“That material is very interesting because it has low levels of phytic acid in the barley,” states Dr. Brian Rossnagel, a barley and oat breeder at the Crop Development Centre.
The phosphorus in this variety is more readily available to the animals that eat it, particularly hogs, rather than going in one end and out the other creating potential issues with regard to phosphorus pollution.
“We worked hard and quickly and developed this new variety, which we released as CDC Lophy-I, a couple of years ago,” says Dr. Rossnagel. “It is a hulless barley variety that has low levels of phytate. The reason we put it in the hulless background is because hulless barley also creates less manure particularly in hog operations. We wanted to combine that lower quantity of manure with a manure that wasn’t as high in phosphorus.”
Release as a public variety means that seed growers can purchase breeders seed from the Crop Development Centre, reproduce the seed through the various generations of pedigreed seed and sell certified seed free of royalties to anyone interested in growing it as feed, particularly for swine.
Dr. Rossnagel says, although a number of growers have had seed for a couple of years, problems in the certified seed industry and difficulties faced by pork producers, have limited multiplication. He hopes the release as a public variety will encourage the seed growers to pick up on the variety and move it forward.
“They need to hear a message from the hog producers that they’re interested in purchasing this material because, if there’s no market, there’s no point in growing the seed.”
Harvey Wagner, the manager of producer services with the Saskatchewan Pork Development Board, believes targeting the development of feed grains to meet the needs of individual livestock species is a step in the right direction. He expects Lophy-I to be particularly useful for hogs as well as poultry.
“Monogastrics, by their nature, can’t access the phosphorus in the grains quite as well so we tend to have to add additional phosphorus in the diet to make sure their needs are met in terms of phosphorus for body function.”
Wagner explains this low phytate barley makes more of the phosphorus in the grain available to the hogs as they consume it, which means a reduced need for adding mineral phosphorus to the diet and reduced amounts of phosphorus being applied to the land.
He acknowledges the risks associated with excess phosphorus applications to crop-land are not a major concern in most areas of Saskatchewan because most Saskatchewan soils are deficient in phosphorus but for some areas, in Manitoba in particular and parts of Alberta, it will be quite useful in that regard.
Karl Kynoch, the chairman of Manitoba Pork Council agrees, “This is really positive for the livestock (industry) and the timing couldn’t really be much better.”
Kynoch observes the Manitoba government is coming down hard on phosphorus application to land and has imposed strict limits on the amount of phosphorus that can be applied.
“For the hog industry to be able to get a hold of some barley to be able to reduce the phosphorus is very positive so we’ll really be looking forward to seeing some producers growing this and trying the variety out.”
Kynoch expects the new variety to be of particular interest in the southeastern corner of the province where there is a lot of phosphorus, not just from hogs but from all livestock.
“Anything you can do to reduce it (phosphorus) helps reduce the distance you’ve got to haul the manure and the amount of acres that you need to spread it on. With today’s environmental regulations coming forward and all of the talk from government on wanting to reduce phosphorus in some areas, this could be really positive.”
Wagner suggests, by including the Lophy barley into the diet, producers will be able to adjust the amounts of phosphorus they have to add and, in some cases, they may not have to add additional phosphorus at all.
Dr. Rossnagel adds, in addition to being unavailable to the hog, phytate phosphorus in barley and other cereal grains ties up important minerals like calcium and iron so these nutrients will also be more available in diets containing Lophy.
He acknowledges, “It’s not a huge economic impact on that side because mineral supplements are reasonably inexpensive but anything one can do to help the producer keep his costs down is what we’re looking for.”
Dr. Rossnagel expects this new variety to be particularly useful to those who grow their own feed.
“By not having any royalties associated with this variety we hope that will make it flow more seamlessly and easily into the system.”