Growing sorghum for chicken feed

Mark

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This summer one of my vegetable garden raised beds heavily mulched with used litter from our chicken coop started growing about 20 sorghum plants so instead of digging them in I decided to let them grow.

The sorghum grew amazingly well through our awfully hot and muggy summer and produced big heads of seed so I was interested to see if this could be a worthy supplemental organic feed for our chickens with the rest of the plant used as compost.

Whilst I found sorghum really easy to grow, unfortunately, my chickens weren't too enthusiastic to eat the grain. They did eat most of it over several days but I could tell it definitely was not a favourite and even a week later there are several heads of sorghum laying around with grains still attached.

Verdict: Although sorghum is one of the easiest grains to grow in a hot humid climate it's probably not worth the effort to be used as a supplementary food for chickens or other poultry. However, this is just my experience and our chickens might be fussy - I don't know - others may find sorghum works well with their flock...

sorghum seed head.jpg


sorghum thick juicy leaves.jpg


chicken eating sorghum seed head plant 600.jpg
 
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stevo

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I had some growing by accident a few times, the chickens seemed to like having a go at it as they wondered the garden. They didn't go crazy over it, but it was something interesting for them to find in their travels. Maybe it was just a little bit of extra entertainment for me also.
 

Mark

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It grows very fast! But it's interesting how some commercial chicken feed state low in sorghum or sorghum free... I wonder if it's a known to be not a real chicken favorite.
 

Mark

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ahh ok, yeah. The stuff I buy has some pellets in it, which the chickens don't seem to eat so there's a bit of waste there.
Probably why my chicken mulch I threw in the garden had sorghum seeds in it... :rolleyes:
 

Ash

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Might be good for livestock feed though. Cattle in particular should be fine with sorghum but I ta it not too many of us here have cows...
 

Ken W.

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It's great for cattle and fattening pigs but it's way down the menu favourites for chooks. I've heard that if it's fed as the main ration to chooks it causes their feathers to harden which leads to moulting.
 

Mark

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It's great for cattle and fattening pigs but it's way down the menu favourites for chooks. I've heard that if it's fed as the main ration to chooks it causes their feathers to harden which leads to moulting.
Oh really... That's interesting!

I spoke to the pet store guy yesterday and he reckons it's a cheap grain and they used to use it as "fill" in some chook feed until people started demanding less of it (obviously because the chooks weren't eating it) and now there's several brands of chicken feed marketed as sorghum free.
 

bearded1

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Hey fellas
I wouldn't be feeding grain to anything I'm going to eat. Grass feed or whatever the natural diet is for the animal in question is the go. Most people here seem to have a grip on the most natural diet possible for themselves, with good cause I might ad. This also goes for the animals we eat; -even eggs and dairy I believe. There is one very important function that grain has however; -making beer:cheers:
 
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Mark

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Yeah to be fair though I think we're only suggesting the use of grains for chickens as supplementary feed and they are a bird after all so partial to seeds :D

Sorghum is remarkably easy to grow so I thought it could be a good feed however it doesn't seem worth it as my chickens are reluctant to eat it anyway.

And this seems to be backed up by commercial feed which is typically low in sorghum or sorghum free so there must be a reason for this grain not being included in their products.

We're lucky enough to have a free range area for our chickens to roam. I haven't mowed this area all summer so the grass goes to seed and the chickens pick off the grass seed heads plus also eat a lot of grass.

Not everyone can free range their flock but if the standard feed is supplemented with some regular greens then that's fine I reckon.
 

Vicky

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sorghum is a great gluten free alternative flour for people :) it could be mixed with regular flour when making bread I think though you wouldn't use too much because..... no gluten!
a thing to try with chickens if you can get into the habit is to soak their grains before feeding to them, the grain can be soaked overnight just to plump it up, or left for longer til it germinates and even again til it sprouts a leaf as long as the grain itself. Each step means that the grain has more nutritional goodness in it for your birds and they really go for sprouted grains, doesn't really matter which grain it is either. It may just take a while to get into the routine of soaking a day or two ahead of using that food, having a rotation system of containers is good when you get used to it.
 
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Rush Farms

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I think this is a great idea! But Im wondering if you jumped to a conclusion about how chickens prefer the grain. Many foods which are commonly eaten have anti-nutritional factors in them (eg sorghum usually contains tanins) which can cause problems when it accumulates, such as when given as a single source feed. This is why many of our vegan friends are not as healthy looking as one might expect. I would advocate trying to give them as a mixed feed with other grains.

Have you given a try at growing other grains?