Millet and sorghum are summer forage options for dairy farms due to their potential to rapidly accumulate DM in warm conditions.
Millet and sorghum
Both millet and sorghum tend to be more reliable than other annual summer crops like brassicas or chicory when soil water is limited.
Nutritional value tends to be less than other summer crops. Yields can be affected by low temperature in summer.
Both experience minimal disease or pest threats compared to spring-sown brassicas.
Millet and sorghum can also be used for double cropping after late-cut winter cereals.
- More likely to attain a minimum amount of feed than most other broad-leaf summer crop options (due to higher tolerance to water stress and low risk of insect attack).
- Higher nitrogen (N) use efficiency (kg DM/kg N) than most broad-leaf summer forage crops.
- Selective sprays can be used as many times as necessary to secure control of problematic broad-leaf weeds.
- Poor control of grass weeds.
- Poor nutritive value of summer diet for lactating cows.
- Can have moderate ME but rapidly lose quality once past the ideal grazing height (brassicas or herbs like chicory or plantain are better).
- Often can't be sown until late spring-early summer (due to higher minimum soil temperatures required for germination) so miss out on growth potential under good growing conditions.
- Stock risk prussic acid poisoning if grazed at certain stages of growth (especially sorghum).
- Cool summer conditions in southern Victoria can restrict crop growth.
Millet and sorghum (PDF, 1.2MB)
Millet and sorghum are summer forage options for dairy farms due to their potential to accumulate DM rapidly in warm conditions. The 3030 Project has a focus on increasing production and utilisation of home-grown feed, so the potential and some management aspects of millet and sorghum were evaluated in different plot studies, on-farm experiments and partner farms.
This Information Sheet summarises the key findings and discusses the role of millet (Echinochloa utilis) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) in pasture-based dairy systems.