Survey and review of grain sorghum in chicken-meat production

The University of Sydney

  • Project code: PRJ-010489

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, May 13, 2016

  • Project completion date: Monday, September 4, 2017

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 3-Contributing to efficient and secure chicken production systems


This proposal stems from comments made during the Feed Grain Partnership ‘Sorghum Summit’ that was held 21st March, 2016. RIRDC Chicken Meat suggested that a survey of relevant personnel and a literature review should be completed in respect of sorghum as a feed grain for (pigs and) poultry with an emphasis on white versus red sorghum varieties. The fundamental objective of this project is to gain a better appreciation of issues surrounding sorghum as a feed grain for chicken-meat production and the barriers to the availability of more varieties.
At least 95% of the sorghum grown in Australia is red, while Liberty constitutes the white sorghum minority. Liberty is considered to be less agronomically viable by sorghum growers for real or perceived reasons. Conversely, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, the majority of ‘hands-on’ pig and poultry nutritionist would certainly prefer to use white sorghum but this is not reflected in a price premium. Research indicates that white sorghums are advantaged by their lack of red, polyphenolic pigments. Anthocyanins and anthocyanidins are polyphenolic pigments in grain sorghum that are responsible for its ‘redness’ and it is tempting to speculate that that their interactions with starch are pivotal to any comparison between white and red sorghum varieties. In the Taylor and Emmambux (2010) review, the authors state “probably it is also significant that the sorghum grain polyphenolic pigments bind with starch granules”. This statement is based on a report by Freeman and Watson (1971) entitled “Influence of sorghum endosperm pigments on starch quality”.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

The University of Sydney

Objective Summary

The survey will seek to investigate broad issues, including the expected future of sorghum as an alternative feed grain to wheat in Australia and both the likelihood and the means of improving sorghum quality in this context, in addition to specifics. Specifics issues to be addressed include current perceptions as to the relative merits of red versus white sorghums from the standpoints of both sorghum growers and the pork and chicken-meat industries, and to understand how these views contrast (or otherwise) with the indications from R&D that have been undertaken to date. Also it would be worthwhile to identify other countries (eg Mexico) that make use of sorghum as a feed grain to learn from their experiences. Predictably, the literature review will focus on “red versus white” sorghum comparisons in meat chickens.