Irish-grown cereals, including barley and wheat, are excellent sources of energy for either fattening cattle or maximising milk production; however, feeding high levels of cereals increases the risk of acidosis in livestock.

The feeding of high levels of cereals in a diet must be managed carefully; feeding rates, mineral and buffer supplementation and the inclusion of a suitable source of fibre being very important.

However, there is a solution that can help to increase feeding levels of Irish-grown cereals safely.

The Gethings farm in Co. Offaly

Ivan Gethings farms with his wife Carol and two sons Chris and Jason. The Gethings family fatten cattle year-round on their beef and tillage farm outside Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

The Gethings family have been keeping and feeding their own grain for a number of years and have tried different treatment options during that time.

Ivan treated all of his cereals with XL Grain for the past couple of years. XL Grain is a relatively new product to the Irish market produced by Vitalac in France, and distributed in Ireland by Quinns of Baltinglass Ltd. XL Grain is an alkaline grain treatment product which can add value to your home-grown cereals.

Ivan (centre), Chris and Jason Gethings on their farm near Tullamore, Co. Offaly

On advice from Arnie McDonald, the local Quinns technical sales advisor, Ivan decided to continue to use XL Grain on his own cereals as it has increased the pH and protein of the grain, allowing for higher feeding levels of his own barley and wheat. Overall, he is very happy with the treatment process and feeding his cereals treated with XL Grain.

“We found the application process very straightforward as the rate is one bag (20kg) per tonne of grain. We treated and rolled the grain with our own roller straight after harvest and covered it over for three or four weeks.

“The XL Grain treatment meant the barley was now just under 15% protein and very safe to feed to cattle.”

The barley and wheat stored very well; better than other treatments we used in the past. We fed it to finishing heifers, bullocks and bulls up to 6kg/head/day and found it very safe…we never had an issues with acidosis.

“We were happy with the liveweight gains and fat scores of cattle fed on it and will be using it again this year.”

XL Grain will not only treat the grain, but also increases both the protein and the pH of the grain to allow higher feeding levels of home-grown cereals; with reduced risk of acidosis occurring.

XL Grain can be used to treat barley, wheat, oats and grain maize. It can be used on whole or rolled grain; however, the grain must be rolled to allow for safe feeding.


Whole or rolled cereals treated at optimum moistures of 16-20% must be stored under a polythene cover for a period of three weeks to allow for the treatment process to take place. Once this process is complete the cover can be removed and the grain can be either fed (once rolled) or moved to another shed.

XL Grain offers significant flexibility as whole grain can be treated at harvest using a diet feeder and the grain can be rolled as needed during the season or a contractor could roll and treat the grain at harvest time.

Treating the grain

Whether treating whole or rolled grain, the application rate of XL Grain is 1 bag (20kg) per tonne of cereals. This is a much simpler process when compared to similar products on the market. Once whole or rolled grain is treated it will keep for up to 12 months.

The application of one bag of XL Grain per tonne of cereals will increase the pH of the grain to a minimum pH of 8.5 – resulting in significant reduction in the risk of acidosis.


The application will also increase protein content of the grain by up to five percentage points – i.e. bringing barley from 10% to 15% protein content. This is beneficial because it reduces the need for bought in proteins and also means there is less need for storage of these proteins on farm.

The combined effect of a higher protein, higher pH cereal achieved with XL Grain treatment is that you can feed higher levels of a high starch, high-quality, Irish-grown feed without the same risk of acidosis.

This has significant effects for both finishing and milking diets. In relation to finishing diets the effect is that you can increase the levels of starch in the diet at a faster rate which can result in reduced days to finishing. Cereals treated with XL Grain can be safely fed up to ad lib levels in beef-finishing diets.

In relation to milk production; sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA) is a real issue for high output dairy herds with levels of cereals in the diet. Acidosis has many negative effects including reduced milk output and reduced solid production; which ultimately reduces profit. The inclusion of XL Grain treated cereals has a significant positive effect on both.

Full service

Quinns of Baltinglass Ltd. will be offering a full service to its customers in relation to the use of XL Grain this harvest.

This service will include:

  1. Grain rolling: Quinns will have contractors available across the Leinster area to roll your grain at or after harvest;
  2. Grain testing: Quinns can do both a pre and post-treatment analysis on your grain for protein, pH and starch;
  3. Nutrition advice: Our ruminant nutritionist can provide full advice and diet formulation to maximise production.

Product summary:

  1. XL Grain increases cereal protein content by up to five percentage points;
  2. XL Grain increases the pH to a minimum of 8.5;
  3. XL Grain can be used to treat whole or rolled grain.

For further information on using XL Grain on your farm, please contact Quinns of Baltinglass Ltd on: 0596481266; or