Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair/Advisor

Mireille Arguelles-Ramos

Committee Member

Michael Blair

Committee Member

William Bridges

Committee Member

Robert Buresh

Committee Member

James Strickland


The single largest cost of poultry production is the cost of feed, and it is favorable to seek more sustainable, alternative feed ingredients to reduce the competition between human, animal, and industrial users. Grain sorghum is a potential alternative feedstuff to minimize the dependence of corn by the poultry industry. Not only is it nutritionally similar to corn, but it is tolerant to dry, sandy soils, which allows it to grow successfully in arid climates. This is highly desirable because of its potential to alleviate the production pressure of growing other cereal grains like corn that are less tolerant to variable climate and soil types. Grain sorghum lends itself to a variety of uses for animal feed-use, including the poultry species: broilers and quail.

The long history of grain sorghum containing high tannins and their negative influence on growth in poultry have discouraged the poultry industry from considering its use as a major grain in feed rations. However, modern varieties of grain sorghum have been non-genetically selected to be tannin-free for animal feed use in the U.S. Validating the nutritional impact of tannin-free grain sorghum on the growth and health of broilers and quail will help contribute to the limited data surrounding its use in poultry diets.

Determining the metabolizable energy of feed ingredients is essential to formulating a poultry diet and satisfying the energy requirements of the bird. The objectives of the studies presented in Chapters II, III, and IV were to determine the apparent metabolizable energy content of red/bronze, white/tan, and U.S. No. 2 grain sorghum varieties for feeding commercial broilers and Japanese quail. After determining the energy content, the effect of grain sorghum as a complete replacement for corn was evaluated on growth performance and carcass traits. Results from these studies can provide nutritionists with an updated nutrient composition of tannin-free grain sorghum and redefine negative perceptions. However, energy values determined in these studies should be used as a reference because it is most important that correct values be used to achieve maximum performance when using grain sorghum. In general, tannin-free grain sorghum had no negative effects on performance or processing yields in broilers and quail. These results should give confidence to nutritionists in the commercial poultry industry to use grain sorghum as an alternative to corn.

Previous studies have shown that grain sorghum contains an abundance of polyphenolic compounds that are associated with antimicrobial functions. This evidence suggests that grain sorghum and its abundance of polyphenolic compounds may have direct impacts for controlling coccidiosis caused by Eimeria maxima and necrotic enteritis caused by Clostridium perfringens. Therefore, the objective of the study in Chapter V was to test the efficacy of tannin-free grain sorghum varieties fed to broiler chickens and challenged with Eimeria maxima and Clostridium perfringens. Findings from this study showed that birds fed corn and grain sorghum treatments had similar performance. Red/bronze and white/tan grain sorghum treatments reduced intestinal lesions in challenged birds. These results suggest that poultry nutritionists should consider the use of tannin-free grain sorghum as part of an integrated strategy to control coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis in broilers.



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