Feeding Sorghum to Poultry

Small and Backyard Flocks May 05, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Sorghum (Sorghum vulgare), also referred to as milo, is one of the most drought-tolerant cereal crops. It is grown in some areas of the United States. The nutrient profile of sorghum is similar to that of corn, and the energy content is slightly less than that of corn. Sorghum grain also has lower levels of xanthophylls than corn. (Xanthophylls are pigments that produce the yellow yolk of chicken eggs and the yellow in the skin of meat chickens.)

Sorghum use in poultry diets has been limited in the past by the presence of tannins, which reduce nutrient availability and cause poultry to refuse feed. The sorghum varieties available in the United States today are tannin-free. As a result, sorghum can completely replace corn in poultry diets with only minor changes to the other dietary ingredients.

Nutrient Content of Sorghum

(Source: Feedstuffs Ingredient Analysis Table: 2011 edition by Amy Batal and Nick Dale, University of Georgia)

  • Dry matter: 89%
  • Metabolizable energy: 3310 kcal/kg (1505 kcal/lb)
  • Crude protein: 11.0%
    • Methionine: 0.10%
    • Cysteine: 0.20%
    • Lysine: 0.27%
    • Tryptophan: 0.09%
    • Threonine: 0.27%
  • Crude fat: 2.8%
  • Crude fiber: 2.0%
  • Ash: 1.7%
    • Calcium: 0.04%
    • Total phosphorus: 0.29%
    • Non-phytate phosphorus: 0.10%

Sorghum DDGS

Thirty percent of US grain is used for ethanol production. Most of the research on the use of the by-product from ethanol production, dried distillers' grains with solubles (DDGS), have been with corn DDGS. The amount of research available on the use of sorghum DDGS is very limited, especially with regards to DDGS use in poultry diets.

For More Information

Sorghum in poultry production: Feeding guide. Scott Beyer, Kansas State University.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.