26 Feb 2015

Sorghum is grown for grain and also for forage in areas with inadequate rainfall for satisfactory maize cropping. There are two general types: the sweet sorghums, which have stems filled with a sweet juice, and the grain sorghums, which usually have pithy stems. Sweet sorghums are grown for forage rather than grain.

There are many varieties of grain sorghum, but the composition of their grain does not differ enough to affect significantly their feed qualities. All varieties are annual maize like grasses more than 2 m high. Sorghum requires similar soil conditions to maize but can grow in drier climates.

When properly supplemented, sorghum grains are excellent for all classes of livestock. The grains must be processed before being fed to cattle, otherwise a large proportion of the grains will be swallowed whole and the waxy bran covering the grain will make digestion difficult.

Grinding is the simplest, least expensive method of preparing sorghum grain for cattle; other methods include dry-rolling, steam-rolling, flaking and popping. All methods produce end products with different degrees of digestibility.  Sheep can be given whole sorghum grains as they masticate them more thoroughly.

Whole grain can also be fed to pigs and poultry, but cracked or ground grain gives somewhat better feed efficiency especially with small-seeded varieties or very dry grains. For best results the grain must be ground only moderately fine, as too finely ground grain decreases consumption.

When sorghum grain is replacing maize, it must be kept in mind that sorghum lacks carotene and should therefore be supplemented with about 3% dried green feed. Sorghum has the disadvantage of tending to cause constipation.

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