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    Rye in the feed

Hybrid rye—a high quality feed!

Pig feeding with rye

In Denmark, Germany, Russia, Poland and Spain, rye is already rapidly becoming an established component of pig rations. KWS in partnership with farmers and feed experts are now extending hybrid rye uptake in the USA and Canada with strong interest in what rye can offer.

Key advantages for monogastric feed - pigs:

• Positive behavioral effects via satiety inducement (esp. in finishers and dry sows)

• Decreased gut ulceration and promotion of hind gut and colon health

• Low non essential nitrogen and reduced faecal losses - for lower ammonia emissions

• Naturally high dietary fibre, lysine and native phytase levels

• Prebiotic and resistant starch activity

• High straw yield for environmental enrichment

• Similar mineral content to wheat, barley and oats (Copper, Zinc) and higher Vitamin E content

• Lower input and production costs (25% less water requirement, up to 100 Kg less N / hectare compared to wheat, less fungicide requirement)

Rye nutritional composition and benefits in pig rations

Hybrid rye is inherently high in fructan, native phytase and together with its highly digestible lysine profile, offers excellent properties for pig nutrition.

Pig feeding with rye


Fructan is a storage carbohydrate digested in the pig’s hind gut, it supports butyrate production which promotes intestinal health.


All common cereals contain an intrinsic level of the enzyme phytase, which acts as to break down phosphorus in the ration.

Over the past 10-15 years, phytase supplementation has increased in pig diets to lower the need for mineral phosphate inclusion. Lower levels of phosphorus in slurry are both a benefit to the soil indices remaining manageable, and reducing eutrophication of water courses.

Precaecal digestibility of Lysine

Lysine digestibility can be defined as either total tract or precaecal, depending on whether the undigested nitrogen is measured in the feces (total tract) or ileal (precaecal) content.

Lysine from rye has a higher precaecal digestibility compared to wheat, leading to reduced non-digested nitrogen and ammonia loss.

Data sources:

1) HPLC LfL Sachsen - 2017 (measurement of native phytase activity) at 88% DM

2) Rodehutscord et al – 2016

3) Rodehutscord et al - 2016, DLG 2014

*Graph percentages are percentage increase vs. wheat

Other references:

Application of resistant starch in swine and poultry diets with particular reference to gut health and function. A. Regassa, C. Nyachoti, Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada – 2018

Apparent and standardized ileal digestibility of AA and starch in hybrid rye, barley, wheat, and corn fed to growing pigs

McGhee, Stein. Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois - 2018

What does rye offer in feeding?

  • High energy content (MJ) per hectare
  • High lysine content in the crude protein
  • Butyrate—from rye—contributes to salmonella reduction
  • Butyrate—from rye—lowers skatole-induced boar odour
  • Product safety due to low Fusarium susceptibility
  • Reduced ergot risk through PollenPlus® technology

Crop Benefits

  • Low production costs
  • High nitrogen efficiency (kg N per 100 kg of grain)
  • Highest yield potential of all grains

Keyadvantages for monogastric feed-pigs

Unique characteristics of rye grain

  • Higher lysine:protein ratio in comparison to other cereals
  • Low Glycemic Index (GI) and high satiety
  • Decreased gut ulceration from a higher dietary fibre content
  • High levels of occupation [chewing] and less boredom
  • Increased welfare and reduced stress (nipping, bruising, mounting etc..)

Rye supports a very high fructane content

  • Fructan is a structural component of all cereal grains, however rye has the highest fructane content amongst all cereal species
  • Fructan is digested in monogastics via the hind gut
  • is subsequently converted to butyrate
  • In pigs this has the potential to limit skatol release (a contributing factor in boar taint and low consumer acceptability)
  • Additionally a lower risk of salmonella (via the higher absorption of butyrate) from high fibre diets using rye

Rye inclusion recommendations (LW basis and % Rye inclusion)

  • Fattening pigs: (28- 40 kg) 30% Rye, (40 – 60 kg) 40% Rye, (60 kg) + 50% Rye
  • Sows: 25%Rye
  • Piglets: (15 kg +)– 10 - 20% Rye

Agronomic advantages of hybrid rye

  • Extreme winter hardiness and frost resistance
  • Aggressive tillering capacity
  • Drought tolerance – ideal for sandy soils
  • Blackgrass suppression – via light reduction in the canopy
  • Extends crop rotation
  • Very high take-all tolerance – ideal as a second cereal
  • Minimal ergot risk – via PollenPlus®

Two-thirds of the German rye harvest is used for feeding—rely on proven and regional feed!
Dr Andreas von Felde, Head of KWS Product Management International Food/Feed

Watch the Rye in Pig and Cattle Feeding

* variety approved in the EU


  • Rye dietary benefits, Pig World feature *New*

    pdf | 3 MB

  • CPM article on hybrid rye

    pdf | 2 MB

  • Farmers Guide article Hybrid Rye

    pdf | 7 MB

  • SEGES rye feeding study for sows

    pdf | 2 MB

  • Accessing the efficiency of modern hybrid rye cultivars - pig carcass quality

    pdf | 174 kB

  • 2018 Hybrid Rye Development presentation

    pdf | 2 MB

  • Assessment and use of rye for fattening bulls and feeding of dairy cows

    pdf | 124 kB

  • Rye in beef cattle finishing

    pdf | 142 kB

  • The use of rye in animal feed

    pdf | 43 kB

  • Hybrid Rye Flyer - Pig Feeding

    pdf | 596 kB

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