Wheat is generally grown intended for food for humans, but lesser quality wheat and the nutrient-dense by-products of flour refining are used for animal feed. Wheat is also used for whiskey and beer production, and the husk can be separated and ground into bran. Before the introduction of corn into Europe, wheat was the principal source of starch for sizing paper and cloths.
Wheat cultivars can be classified by planting season, hardness of the grain, and color. Winter wheats are winter hardy, so they are planted in the fall. In the spring they resume maturation and are harvested early in the summer. Spring wheats are planted in the spring and harvested late in the summer. Spring wheat yields are significantly lower than winter wheat yields, but it offers a very high quality for bread making.
Soft wheat varieties have starchy kernels (less gluten) which mill easier than the hard wheats. Soft wheat flour is preferred for piecrust, french bread, biscuits, and breakfast foods. Hard wheats have higher protein and gluten levels than their softer cousins, and are used for bread, cakes and flour. The hardest wheat is Durum, whose flour is used in the manufacture of macaroni, spaghetti, and other pasta products. Soft wheats and white wheats usually bring higher prices because they are easier to mill and don’t require bleaching.
Wheat as Animal Feed
Based on fluctuations in commodity pricing, wheat may become attractive in ruminant diets, replacing a portion of corn and barley in rations.
Traditionally, the milling of wheat produces flour for human use and appreciable quantities of by-products for animal feeds
The Soft White Wheat tends to be lower in protein, averaging 11-12%
Low quality wheat that has been deemed unfit for human consumption may be used as animal feed. Withdrawing a crop from the human food marked may be in response to damage caused by pests, diseases or frost.
The high carbohydrate content of wheat makes it a suitable foodstuff for meat animals that are being fattened or sustaining livestock in harsh conditions during the winter. Grain from wheat-rye hybrids is sometimes used as an animal feed, being rich in protein and readily digestible .
As with many other cereal grains, wheat is primarily a source of energy in the form of carbohydrates
Available energy expressed as either digestible energy (DE) or metabolizable energy (ME) is higher per unit of dry matter (DM) relative to corn, than other grains .
Wheat which is of low quality and thus unsuitable for milling, because of damage by disease, insects, and frost, can be fed to domestic animals. It will obviously be worth less than good quality wheat, with its exact value dependent on the extent of the damage. Such wheat may be less palatable and have less nutritional value than good quality wheat, so it is best to mix it with another cereal grain in the diet .