That’s a question I had last week. If I start off by saying wheat midds are a byproduct of the wheat milling process some people will probably immediately want to write them off. They would be wrong.
Byproducts is not a synonym for waste material. It also doesn’t mean that the product is “highly processed”, which is a very common claim by detractors.
The major end product of wheat is flour, especially white flour. If you are among the health conscious, you know that white flour is greatly deficient nutritionally compared to whole wheat flour. What you might not realize is that all the nutritionally dense components of whole wheat compared to white flour are what ends up in wheat midds.
The term “midds”, short for middlings, refers to parts of the whole wheat grain between the raw parent grain as harvested and the end product of wheat flour. It’s the “middles” in the process of flour production.
When wheat comes into the mill, the first few steps of processing involve cleaning. The grain shipment is sent through a series of sieves/screens, blowers and even magnets to remove most of the contaminating material from harvesting.
The wheat then goes to processing which separates the starch/flour rich segment of the grain from the outer and inner layers. The midds includes the bran and wheat germ, fractions all can agree are the most nutritious. In fact, if the wheat was being processed by a plant focusing on production of wheat bran or wheat germ, the high starch flour portion would then be considered the “byproduct”.
Wheat midds are high protein (18+%), moderate starch (average 25%) and moderate fat (average 5.5%) . The only processing involved is physical means of sifting, grinding, etc. that separates these fractions.
Wheat midds can be a valuable addition to horse feeds. That said, there can be individual horses with sensitivity to wheat and problems with high omega-6 fatty acid intake that make this a poor choice for some individuals. However, that doesn’t mean that wheat midds should be condemned across the board.
The next post here will address other urban legends about byproducts in equine nutrition.
Eleanor M Kellon, VMD