Researchers aim to make sorghum more palatable for poultry

Sorghum is a staple grain that provides many health benefits to livestock, pets and humans. But specific compounds found in sorghum varieties, such as tannins and polyphenols, can have negative effects on the poultry and pet industry.

Some high-tannin sorghum varieties should be avoided in poultry feed, but low-tannin sorghum is a good substitute in wheat and maize feed. Researchers have suggested that the use of sorghum grain tannin up to 1% may be recommended in poultry feed, but levels of 2-3% should be avoided unless processed to mitigate or turn off the tannins.

Valuing the beneficial compounds of sorghum

The US-based Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is providing nearly US$850,000 in a Seed Solutions grant to Clemson University to study the properties of sorghum plants that enhance the beneficial compounds of commercial sorghum, while preserving the dual use of the crop as animal feed. Matching funds were provided by the university and Carolina Seeds Systems.

Dr Jeffrey Rosichan, director of the FFAR Crops of the Future Collaborative, said the research was particularly important because sorghum is a climate-resilient crop that could boost crop diversity to bolster the world’s food supply. Increased sorghum consumption would also drive commercial exports from the United States.

“Sorghum is a productive crop that has the genetic capabilities to be a nutritional powerhouse. It is resistant to climate change and can be grown with fewer inputs, saving farmers money. By investigating the sources of sorghum’s health benefits, this research will unlock the full potential of the crop.

Good for humans but bad for animals

Plant breeder Dr Richard Boyles of Clemson University said his team of researchers will be evaluating specific substances found in the grain that have properties beneficial to people’s health and do not cause negative outcomes for people. animals.

Once identified, researchers will use non-GMO breeding methods to develop new sorghum hybrids with these value-added properties. The final step will be to measure the impacts of improved sorghum-grain hybrids on poultry growth, as well as their ability to reduce harmful diseases in the poultry gut.

Boyles, Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, added, “Spreading from plant breeding and genetics to animal science, this interdisciplinary project will use sound science and product development to create a U.S. market for cereals and more sustainable and prosperous proteins.

“Once we fully understand which plant-derived metabolites confer health benefits and how, we can optimize their concentrations and availability through molecular selection. This goal will continue in unison with ongoing efforts to increase sorghum grain yield and stress resilience,” he added.

Boyles stressed that the research would also help make sorghum an important tool in meeting the demand for nutritious, affordable and sustainable animal feed.

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