Cattle producers may be able to feed lower test-weight barley as feed, Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University Extension beef cattle specialist, says.

Lardy says early harvest in North Dakota is indicating light test-weight barley, the result of dry conditions. It's lower in starch and higher in fiber than normal test weight grain, which results in lower energy content, but producers may not notice any reductions in livestock performance, he says.

“However, as barley test weight approaches 40 lbs. or less, the energy content is low enough where differences in feed efficiency are noticeable. Animals offered high-concentrate diets will tend to consume more of the lighter test-weight grain to compensate for the lower energy content. This results in poorer feed conversion efficiency,” he says. Lardy recommends producers price lower test-weight grain according to its feeding value.

Another option, if crop insurance regulations allow, is to harvest light test-weight grain as a hay crop, he adds.

For more, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/eb70w.htm or www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/sheep/eb71w.htm.