Wheat is used in many countries, especially in Canada and Europe, as the major energy source in poultry diets. Wheat varieties are classified as red or white depending on the seed coat color, hard or soft depending on the kernel texture, and winter or spring depending on the time of planting. In terms of feeding value, the main classification of interest is kernel texture since this most strongly affects the nutrient composition.

Hard wheat varieties generally have a higher lysine content than soft varieties. The hardness of these kinds of wheat is due to the strong binding between the starch and the protein components. Within the hard wheat, protein levels can vary from 10-18% depending on the variety and growing conditions.

Wheat contains water-soluble, highly viscous non-starch polysaccharides referred to as pentosans or arabinoxylans (about 5-8%), which can cause problems with digesta viscosity. Feed enzymes are available to improve the performance of chickens fed wheat-based diets.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan - Wheat (Canada)

Feeding whole grains to chickens (Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association - MOFGA)