New technologies to breed better barley

The nutritional value of barley grain comes from its seed starch content, but a great deal of barley is used for silage, greenfeed or swathgrazing. Therefore, it is important to know the nutritional value of the cut plant.

Nutritional value largely depends on how digestible the fiber (lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose) in the stem and leaves are. Barley varieties with higher whole plant digestibility allow cattle to obtain more nutrients per tonne of feed. Some barley varieties have more digestible fiber than others.

A recently-completed research project funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster studied the use of genomic technologies to make selection for improved digestibility in feed barley easier and faster. Continue reading