Five different straws consisting of two varieties of winter barley, two varieties of spring barley and one variety of winter wheat were chosen due to differences in degradation characteristics determined by using nylon bags incubated in the rumen of cattle and describing the straw using the equation: p = a + b (1 – e–ct). To increase variation in degradability, batches of the same straws were also treated with anhydrous ammonia in a sealed oven. The straws were subsequently offered ad libitum to groups of steers given a daily supplement of 1·5 kg concentrate and untreated straws were supplemented with urea. The dry-matter intake (DMI) of the straws varied from 3·4 to 5·7 kg/day, the digestible DMI from 1·4 to 3·5 kg/day and growth rate from 106 to 608 g/day. By using multiple regression of a, b, c from the exponential equations characterizing degradability of the straw, the correlation coefficients with DMI, digestible DMI and growth rate were 0·88, 0·96 and 0·95 respectively.