Siberian Millet

Siberian Millet

Family of Poaceae (grass)

Scientific Name (Echinochloa frumentacea)

 It is mainly used in Australia as stock feed in the cattle, pig and poultry industries.

Millet and sorghum are easy to establish but require a high soil temperature to germinate (14 to 16 degrees Celsius). This means they often cannot be sown until late spring or early summer.

Potential stock health problems can be avoided by carrying out routine vaccinations and drenches. Ample clean drinking water, salt and sulphur blocks should be supplied for cattle when grazing sorghum.

Millet and sorghum have a higher nitrogen use efficiency in terms of kilograms of DM produced per kilogram of nitrogen applied than most broadleaf summer forage crops.

Millet and sorghum accumulate dry matter rapidly in warm conditions. They perform better than most other annual summer crops when soil moisture is limited, making them a good option when water is scarce.

These crops have a high tolerance to water stress and low risk of insect attack. As a result of these characteristics, millet and sorghum produce more feed than most broadleaf summer crop options.

Millet and sorghum stand out in their adaptation to water stress. They are generally direct grazed through the summer months, although both can be conserved.


With no water or nutrient limitations, sorghum can produce between 17 and 20 tonnes of dry matter (DM) per hectare and millet 7-14t DM/ha. However, under dryland conditions, yields of millet and sorghum can be extremely variable and on commercial farms in southern Victoria these potential yields are rarely achieved. Millet and sorghum are both lower in crude protein (6% to 9%) than other summer crop options and higher in neutral detergent fibre (NDF), which will affect DM intake.

Millet and sorghum have poor nutritive value for the summer diet of lactating cows. The high fibre content does not improve the normally low nutritive value of summer pastures. However, with low fodder supplies, millet and sorghum may be able to supply high yields of forage where other crops will not.

Millets are major grain crops world wide, but in Iowa their use is mainly as annual summer forage production as hay, silage, green-chop, and pasture. The sudan/sorghum forages are often the first choice for summer annual forage production, but millets have been gaining in popularity.

Foxtail Millet -- German and Siberian varieties seem to be the most popular for forage use.

Millet forages grow well in soil pH levels between 5.5 and 7.5.

Forage Selection for Livestock All millet forages are good feed for beef and sheep. The choice of millet is largely dependent on seasonal needs and intended harvest management @ silage, pasture, green-chop, hay, etc.

Dairy -- There is some evidence1 that Pearl Millet may cause butterfat depression in milk. Therefore, recommendations for use of Pearl Millet with lactating dairy are either to: · limit feed the millet and monitor butterfat levels · or simply avoid its use for lactating dairy

Horses -- Do not feed Foxtail Millet as a major component of their diet. Foxtail Millet acts as a laxative2 and contains a glucoside called setarian that may damage the kidneys, liver, and bones3 .

Awns of mature Foxtail Millet heads have caused feeding problems.

Table 2. Comparisons of Forage Yield & Quality of Millets & Sorghum-Sudan Forages, U of MN, 1990.

Forage Harvest schedule Dry matter yield Crude protein RFV

Foxtail millet 1-cut 3.5 12.3 77 Proso millet 1-cut 3.0 12.8 88

 Table 6. Guidelines for Nitrate in Feedstuffs5 Nitrate (NO3) concentration1 Comments (%) ppm 0.00 - 0.44 0 - 4,400 This level is considered safe to feed under all conditions. 0.44 - 0.66 4,400 - 6,600 This level should be safe to feed to non-pregnant animals under all conditions. It may be best to limit its use for pregnant animals to 50% of the total ration on a dry basis. 0.66 - 0.88 6,600 - 8,800 Feeds safely if limited to 50% of the total dry matter in the ration. 0.88 - 1.54 8,800 - 15,400 Feeds should be limited to about 35 to 40% of the total dry matter in the ration. Feeds containing over 0.88% nitrate should not be used for pregnant animals. 1.54 - 1.76 15,400 - 17,600 Feeds should be limited to 25% of total dry matter in ration. Do not use for pregnant animals. over 1.76 over 17,600 Feeds are potentially toxic. Do not feed. 1NO3 concentration, ppm ¸ 4.4 = NO3 -N concentration, ppm

Millets Forage Management By Brian Lang, Extension Crop Specialist

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY University Extension