From very early times, wheat has held the place of one of the choicest foods for man. Next to rice it is the most extensively used by the human race of any of the cereal grains, and the most used among the civilized nations. Corn and other coarse grains can be produced at less cost than wheat, and are not so suitable for human food, which accounts for wheat never having come into general use as food for stock. There have been times when, owing to the enormous production of wheat, its price in some localities was only a trifle more than that of corn. Under these circumstances, farmers fed wheat in large quantities. One state (Kansas), says Mr. Coburn, used in this way 4,000,000 bushels of wheat in the year 1893. The following year more than twice that amount was dealt out to stock.
Prof. Henry, of Wisconsin says, "that wheat was found to be a food of great palatability, though not equal to corn for fattening purposes; yielding perhaps ten per cent, less returns in feeding fattening stock." He found that wheat furnished abundance of nutriment, and, through variety, gave edge to the appetite. In this we may learn a lesson from the lower animals, - vary the diet instead of catering to a poor appetite by concocting unwholesome dishes. The Prairie Farmer, in 1894, asked Swift & Co., packers in Chicago, to state their opinion as to the character of the flesh of wheat and corn fed animals. They replied: "There is quite a perceptible difference between wheat and corn fed hogs and cattle. We do not consider that wheat-fed stock yields as well as corn-fed stock, there being less fat. The lean meat on wheat-fed cattle has a somewhat brighter red than on corn-fed cattle. The lean meat from wheat-fed hogs is very nice, but as the yield is not so good, there is no particular advantage in it to packers, but we consider wheat-fed stock worth as much as corn-fed stock."
To study satisfactorily the structure of a grain of wheat, the aid of the microscope is necessary. The use of the microscope helps the miller much in determining the success of his operations. By treating a small portion of flour with chemicals, he may be able to know whether the number of bran particles in the flour is large. By the aid of careful inspection, he can ascertain whether the bran is intact or whether portions of one or the other of its layers will be ground up in the flour.
If we could take a grain of wheat in our fingers and remove layer after layer, we would find three parchment-like coverings, which, by chemical analysis, give a composition about the same as that of wheat straw. For stock it has practically the same feeding value as straw, but its nourishing value for man is slight. For human beings only the young cellulose, as found in lettuce, spinach, etc., has any value as a nutrient. Cellulose is, however, necessary to give bulk to the food, and aid in the continual movement of the contents of the digestive tract, but for man it is better obtained in mature vegetables than in the form of bran. White flour is more valuable, pound for pound, than whole-wheat flour or graham flour, for the diet of most people, whether sick or well. Commercial bran contains more than the outer parchment-like layer of cellulose. The inner layer of bran consists of cellulose, which contains considerable protein, useful as stock food.