What are the benefits of feeding sprouted grain to dairy cattle? Is it cost-effective?
B.H.MinnesotaAnswer: Grain that has sprouted (if free of mold and other microorganisms) can be fed to cattle with no negative consequence. But in terms of delivering energy and nutrients to livestock, it is generally not advantageous to sprout grains before feeding. Generally, the nutritional quality of the grain is not improved by sprouting them. Germination of the seed utilizes starch (stored energy) that would have otherwise been available to the animal. Since the germinating seed uses up starch, the remaining nutrients (protein, vitamins, and minerals) become more concentrated in the sprouted grain. However the total amount of these nutrients is not actually higher. Sprouting can increase the amount of carotene (vitamin A precursor) in grains and before the development of commercial vitamin supplements sprouted grains were used as a source of essential vitamins, particularly for poultry during winter months. However the amount of sprouted grains needed in order to affect the vitamin A status of dairy cows is likely impractical, particularly if those animals already have access to pasture or high quality forage.In a nutshell, sprouting grain for cattle is not cost effective. Sprouting reduces energy content of grain. Sprouting does concentrate the amount of protein and vitamins remaining in the sprout, but does NOT increase the nutritional value of grain.