With the shifts in spring weather patterns and the extended periods of drought, research trials are looking at the potential dual-purpose use of cereal crops for livestock feed.

The option not only provides farmers more flexibility, but it can also help ensure adequate feed supplies during dry conditions when perennial forage yields might be low.

Amber Wall, a Research Technician with Wheatland Conservation Area, says they've gathered eight years of data from four research sites in the province, including Swift Current, Redvers, Prince Albert and Clavet.

She says working with other partners, they've collected yield as well as quality data, which includes a nutrient feed analysis.

"Overall, barley treatments generally yielded quite well. They were followed fairly closely by the oats, as well as a couple of the mixtures. But it's important to note that these mixes may not be best suited for each area. Another thing to consider is whether the mix has any other benefits besides the yield over the monoculture. Triticale yielded well in comparison, although there wasn't a lot of variation between the varieties, and the same goes for the wheat. It was the lowest yielding species overall, and also not a lot of variation between varieties. Most treatments averaged 9 per cent crude protein, but there were a few exceptions that were higher, which included these lower yielding wheat varieties. As well as the pulse mixtures, which generally resulted in crude protein around 10.5 per cent, as expected thanks to those peas."

More detailed information on this and other research trials can be found on the Wheatland Conservation Area website.