Predicting wheat quality for broilers

Project number
Lead partner
Scientific partners
Harper Adams University
Industry partners
Moy Park Ltd, Aunir, AB Vista Feed Ingredients
Start Date
April 2013
End date
March 2015
HGCA funding


The challenge

In 2012, poor weather conditions during the growing and harvesting periods impacted negatively on grain-filling and caused increases in levels of fusarium and microdochium species, which, separately, or in combination, may have lowered the specific weight and the market value of feed wheat.  Specific weight is widely used by the feed industry as a measure of grain quality, though uncertainty remains about the exact relationship between this parameter and nutritive value.  At present, there are no precise and rapid alternatives for predicting feed quality. AFBI has previously shown that near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has the potential to accurately predict broilers performance when offered a diet based on particular wheats. However, these predictions were based on experimental conditions only. It has been suggested that the moisture content of grain at harvest and subsequent drying conditions have a detrimental effect on feed quality but there is a lack of documentary information for this assertion and requires further investigation.

The project

The aims of this project are to:

  • Develop a validated NIRS tool to predict a) the nutritive value of wheat for broilers and, b) mycotoxin and microdochium levels in wheat
  • Investigate the effects of moisture content at harvest and drying conditions of wheat on broiler performance
  • Investigate the effect of fusarium mycotoxin and microdochium level on broiler performance

The benefits

The project outputs could lead to:

  • The reduction in the variation in production efficiency when using different samples of wheat  and save the industry approximately £3.9m/annum, in NI alone
  • The lower penalties imposed on wheat growers as a result of low specific weight values and more inclusion of local wheat in broiler diets

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