Sorgo in swine diets: it’s not all that simple

Peter Smid, chairman of technical department of Trouw Nutrition Hifeed (Netherlands)

Lubomyr Dubiniak, technical assistant of animal feeding Trouw NutritionUkr, LLC

Sorgo is a relatively new ingredient in pigs’ diets. It’s best characterized by the word ‘ambiguous’. Why is it so? Read in the article.

Nutrient content

The content and digestibility of starch and protein may change depending on the variety. A sorgo grain nucleus contains approximately 70% of starch and sugars, 10% of proteins, 3% of fats, 7% of vitamins and minerals and 10% of humidity. However the starch digestibility of sorgo is lower in comparison with other kinds of grain crops. Sorgo has higher energy value but contains less protein in comparison with wheat. In comparison with corn its energy value is vice versa just a shade less and protein content is a shade bigger.

Anti-nutritional factors

All kinds of sorgo contain phenol compounds, especially hydrolise and condense tannins, lignins, lignans etc. that worsen its digestibility. These anti-nutritional factors influence the colour, look and feeding quality of sorgo and its products.

Tannins blind to proteins, carbohydrates and minerals and essentially worsen digestibility, accessibility of these nutrients and feeding quality for monogastric animals. They do not cause toxic poisoning, but depending on the processing method and sorgo percentage in diets this crop may worsen the feed conversion ratio.

Sorgo in swine diets: where the problems can appear

You should be careful with sorgo as feeding raw material. If you want to add it into swine diet, there aren’t any general recommendations, the solution on every batch is individual. First of all learn the tannin content and only then decide if it is possible to add sorgo into diet and in what amount.

Sorgo in sows’ diets is a separate issue. Since except tannin, this crop may have one more problem — the high ergot contain, it is necessary to add it into the pregnant and lactating sows’ diets very carefully. First of all because the risk of problems with milk secretion. Replacement sows may have agalactia. That’s why, if you plan to add sorgo into sows’ diet, it is obligatory to do lab analysis for mycotoxins and tannin level.

Positive conclusions

It would be a mistake to ignore the crop that yields greatly and feels very comfortable in summer heat, however these sorgo advantages are ‘balanced’ by some minuses — tannin and ergot contain. Taking into account all ‘pluses’ and ‘minuses’, do not risk to feed your pigs with sorgo before checking raw material in a lab.

  1. Thanks for what nutrients sorgo is successfully competing with habitual cropping cultures in pigs’ diet?
  2. What is the tannin permissible level in sorgo? How does the tannin level raising influence the protein digestibility and feed consumption levels?
  3. Is it possible to discover sorgo with high tannin level by seeds colour?
  4. What secrets of high results of feeding sorgo to finishing pigs?
  5. Sorgo in sows’ diet: what to pay attention to?

You can find answers for these and other questions in the full version of the article in the magazine «Profitable Pig Production», № 5 (17) 2013.

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