Uses for Barley

Plant Breeding and Genomics June 13, 2011|Print

Authors:

Peggy Lemaux, University of California, Berkeley

Barbara Alonso, University of California, Berkeley

Karen Hertsgaard, North Dakota State University

Barley is primarily used for malt and beer production, and secondarily used as animal feed. It is also used as food for human consumption and other uses like biofuel and algae control. Information on these uses and processes is provided by organizations, university, USDA and private research laboratories and industry.


Photo credit: (left) Patrick Hayes, BarleyWorld.org, Crop and Soil Science Department, Oregon State University, (center and right) USDA-ARS.

The most economically desirable use of barley is for the production of malt, the standards for which are quite stringent. Research institutions, both public and private, work closely with industry researchers and officials to ensure that proper quality standards are set and that barley used for malt meets these standards. These groups also work closely together to produce new barley varieties with favorable production characteristics and high quality for human and animal consumption. Barley that does not meet malt quality standards often is utilized as feed for livestock, although some barley is produced solely as feed for animals, either as a grain or hay forage. Barley is also a valuable food product for human consumption, and certain varieties are available which produce a high quality food product. Barley is also used in alternative settings such as for ethanol production for bio-fuels and for reducing algae in ponds and waterways.

Malting

Malting-quality barley must meet strict standards to produce high quality malt. Several organizations work with producers, maltsters, and brewers to ensure these standards are understood and met, as well as researching methods for producing the highest quality product and approving varieties for malting purposes.

American Malting Barley Association, Inc. is a nonprofit trade association of major U.S. malting and brewing companies with the objectives of enhancing the national public sector barley research infrastructure; developing malting barley varieties with improved agronomic and quality characters; helping implement programs to benefit producers and increase production; and representing the malting and brewing industry regarding public and regulatory issues that impact barley. This website provides information on malting barley varieties, barley variety surveys, a variety dictionary, harvesting,drying, and storage, and malting quality.

Master Brewers Association of the Americas. This association provides access to the publication Technical Quarterly of the Master Brewers Association, an online journal which features both reviewed and nonreviewed papers covering wide technical aspects of brewing ingredients, the brewing process, brewing by-products, environmental considerations in breweries, beer packaging, and beer flavor and physical stability. Also available on this site is a list of brewing science titles.

American Society of Brewing Chemists. This society website offers the ASBC Check Sample Service, which evaluates accuracy and precision of methods and performance of instruments on a regular, scheduled basis. Also available are the BrewMedia modules, which provide brewers with information on brewing science.

Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences. This institute provides information on the 2008, 2009, and 2010 American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) list of approved malting barley varieties. A detailed malting production calendar is also available.

Montana State University Extension – Barley Varieties page provides a list of varieties by type—malting, feed, and hay.

Barley, Malt and Beer. This fact sheet, prepared in June 2008 by Karen Hertsgaard and Paul Schwarz for the Barley Coordinated Agricultural Project, discusses how barley is used in malting and barley quality factors, and it explans the malting and brewing process. This fact sheet was funded by the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

USDA-ARS-Cereal Crops Research Unit, located in Madison, WI. This site contains information about research programs and projects, barley quality analysis, and news.

Feed

Barley can be fed to beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry. Certain varieties are dedicated as feed varieties; however, malt barley that does not meet malt quality standards is also used as feed. Detailed information on feed barley for livestock can be found in the following resources.

Lardy, G. and Bauer, M. 1999. Feeding Barley to Beef Cattle. North Dakota State University Extension Service, publication EB-70. This publication provides information on energy, protein, mineral, and vitamin content; effect of variety on nutritional value; effects of processing;, use in growth and finishing diets; use as a supplemental energy source; and effects of DON contamination on animal performance.

Anderson, V. and J.W. Schroeder, J.W. 1999. Feeding Barley to Dairy Cattle. North Dakota State University Extension Service, publication EB-72. This publication provides information on energy, protein, mineral, and vitamin content; effects of processing; use in lactating diets; management of barley diets; and effects of DON contamination on animal performance.

Lardy, G. 1999. Feeding Barley to Sheep. North Dakota State University Extension Service, publication EB-71. This publication provides information on energy, protein, mineral, and vitamin content; effects of processing; use in growth and finishing diets; use as a supplemental energy source; and effects of DON contamination on animal performance.

Harrold, R.L. 1999. Feeding Barley to Swine & Poultry. North Dakota State University Extension Service, publication EB-73. This publication provides information on the use of barley in swine diets with regard to processing, feed additives, nutritional advantages, non-nutritional factors, and swine diet formulation. This publication also provides information on feed additives and diet formulations for poultry.

Montana State University Extension – Barley Varieties page. This site provides a list of varieties by type—malting, feed, and hay.

Montana State University Extensio - Forage Extension Program. This site provides information on barley varieties and management for producing hay as livestock feed.

Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension. Publication, “Growing Hulless Barley in the Mid-Atlantic”. Prepared May, 2009. This publication describes the development of hulless barley varieties for the mid-Atlantic region that are intended for specific end-use markets.

Food

Food barley provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that provide excellent health benefits, including diabetes prevention and control, reduced cholesterol and heart disease, and weight control. The following resources provide information on cooking and obtaining food barley products.

Barley: It's What’s for Dinner. This is a fact sheet prepared for the Barley Coordinated Agricultural Project by Peggy G. Lemaux and Barbara Alonso in October 2007. This factsheet discusses how barley is used as food, important preprocessing and food product traits, and the forms of processed barley that are available. The factsheet was funded by the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Barley for Food and Health: Science, Technology, and Products. Newman RK, Newman CW. Barley for Food and Health. 2008. This website provides comprehensive and current information on barley types, composition, characteristics, processing techniques, and products with an emphasis on nutritional and health benefits. This resource discusses barley’s role in breads and related products, and reviews its health benefits, biotechnology, and breeding applications.

Barley is Better blog provides information on barley and food.

Oregon Grains Commission site provides nutritional facts and recipes for barley.

National Barley Foods Council site provides information about storing and cooking barley, recipes, health and nutrition facts, and science and research about barley nutrition.

Barley Facts: Nutrition, Cooking Tips and More. This fact sheet, provided by the National Barley Foods Council, covers the nutritional value of barley and provides recipes.

Barley: A Healthy Heart Solution. This fact sheet, provided by the National Barley Foods Council, discusses the benefits of barley for fighting heart disease.

Barley Facts: FDA health claim. This fact sheet, provided by the National Barley Foods Council, discusses the health claim that beta-glucan can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Health benefits of barley. This fact sheet, provided by Cargill Health & Food Technologies, discusses the use of barley to reduce cholesterol, its effect on diabetes, and increased satiety.

The Future of Barley. Report published in 2005 in Cereal Foods World 50: 271-277. This report summarizes research on bioactive compounds, beneficial effects, and sensory properties in barley.

Other Barley Uses

The recent focus on biofuels and environmentally sound practices has encouraged research on barley for ethanol production for fuel. New varieties are now available for such purposes in limited areas. Barley biofuel work has also been started in limited areas. Utilizing barley hay to prevent algae growth in ponds and waterways is also an interesting area of study.

Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension published “Growing Hulless Barley in the Mid-Atlantic” that was prepared in May 2009.

Osage Bio Energy. This company was founded to pursue the use of hulless barley for ethanol production.

Ohio State University Extension Fact sheet. Written by William E. Lynch, Jr., Extension Associate, Aquatic Ecosystem Management. This fact sheet discusses algae control with barley straw.

Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Publication, “Barley Straw for Algae Control”, by Carole A. Lembi. This fact sheet discusses algae control with barley straw.

Funding Statement

Development of this page was supported in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Barley Coordinated Agricultural Project, agreement 2009-85606-05701, administered by the University of Minnesota. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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