The Comparative Nutritive Value of Sorghum Grain, Corn, and Wheat as Poultry Feeds

The Comparative Nutritive Value of Sorghum Grain, Corn, and Wheat as Poultry Feeds
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AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
KANSAS STATE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
AND APPLIED SCIENCE
Manhattan, Kansas
THE COMPARATIVE NUTRITIVE VALUE OF
SORGHUM GRAIN, CORN, AND WHEAT
AS POULTRY FEEDS
PRINTED BY THE
KANSAS STATE COLLEGE PRESS
MANHATTAN, KANSAS
1934
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THE COMPARATIVE NUTRITIVE VALUE OF SORGHUM GRAIN, CORN, AND WHEAT AS
POULTRY FEEDS 1
Loyal F. Payne
INTRODUCTION
While the seed of certain grain sorghums have been used
extensively for many years in poultry rations, reports of dissatisfaction are occasionally heard in the region where these
grains are grown. Live-stock feeders in the grain sorghum producing states have frequently shown a preference for corn. even
when it had to be shipped long distances at somewhat increased
costs. Poultry raisers in these same sections have frequently
discredited the value of sorghum grain in the rations, while the
manufacturers of commercial poultry feeds in most parts of
the country and especially in the East have shown a preference
for these grains. In fact, a large percentage of sorghum grain
shipped out of Kansas to eastern and western markets is used
for poultry feed. This difference in attitude may be attributed
in part, at least, to the methods employed in harvesting and
storing grain sorghums and to the way in which they are fed.
The sorghum heads with the grain are frequently cut from
the stalk and stacked in the open. Being exposed to the weather, the stack collects moisture from the rain and snow, which
may eventually damage much of the grain. The moldy, musty
heads of grain are later fed to the chickens along with the undamaged grain. This practice while not always fatal to the
adult stock is usually disastrous to baby chicks. Field ear corn
when exposed to the weather is less subject to such damage and
it is fairly well cleaned when shelled and cracked. The panicle
of the sorghum head, being divided into many fine branches,
has a greater tendency to collect moisture and decay than the
corn cob. The common farm practice of letting the chickens
pick the grain from the heads gives the birds every opportunity
to ingest large amounts of this decaying material.
Such grain not infrequently constitutes a large percentage
of the poultry ration. When an adequate supply of vitamin A
is not available to the poultry flock, “nutritional roup” (A-avitaminosis) frequently develops. Such experiences soon cause
the flock owner to lose confidence in sorghum grain as a poultry feed.
The sorghum grain shipped to distant markets is handled
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very differently. It is threshed soon after harvesting, placed
in dry granaries, elevators, or box cars and sold on a graded
basis with but little if any opportunity to become damaged. The
dealers who buy it utilize the grain as only one ingredient in
a ration which is well balanced with other grains and mill byproducts.
SORGHUM GROWN EXTENSIVELY IN KANSAS
While there are many varieties of sorghum, only those of
kafir, milo, and feterita are grown primarily for their grain.2
Figures from reports of the State Board of Agriculture show
that the average annual acreage and value of the above three
grain sorghums in Kansas for the period 1915 to 1928 was
1,449,450 acres valued at $26,532,155. The acreage and value of
all sorghum grown in the state were surpassed only by two
other cereals, wheat and corn.
POPULARITY OF KAFIR AND MILO
While feterita is listed with kafir and milo as a grain sorghum, it does not compare with them either in acreage grown
or in the value of the crop harvested. When comparing kafir
and milo in Kansas, it is found that kafir plantings represent
about 82 per cent of the acreage and 84.5 per cent of the value
while milo is grown on 18 per cent of the acreage and represents 15.5 per cent of the value. (Report of the State Board of
Agriculture for the period 1915 to 1928.) The value of kafir is
increased when figured on a percentage basis by virtue of a
yield of 0.8 bushel per acre more than milo. When the prices
of the two grains are compared on a pound basis, milo usually
sells for more than kafir. The average low price paid for No. 2
grain on the Kansas City market for the 11-year period from
1921 to 1931 was $1.02 a hundred for white kafir and $1.09 a
hundred for yellow milo according to figures supplied by the
Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas Agricultural
Experiment Station. This represents a difference of 7 cents a
hundred in favor of milo. There was only one year (1923) during the 11 when kafir sold for more than milo.
According to a report of the Los Angeles, Calif., Grain Exchange, compiled by the Federal State Marketing Service at
Sacramento, Los Angeles received for the six-year period from
1923-'24 to 1928-'29, 2,985 cars of milo and 2,358 cars of kafir.
While the report does not indicate how these grains were used
the main portion in all probability went into poultry feeds.
The greater market value of milo is apparently due to the
color of the grain and the more limited supply. It cannot be
based on a higher nutritive value as will be pointed out later
in this publication. The yellow color of milo adds attractiveness to a grain mixture. A combination of white corn, wheat,
and kafir is somewhat colorless and unattractive to the buyer,
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whereas the substitution of either yellow milo or yellow corn
for any of the above grains adds attractiveness and “richness”
to the mixture and thus enhances its sales value. Most of the
popular scratch grain mixtures contain a variety of brightly
colored grains.
The popularity of kafir and milo for use in commercial poultry feeds is indicated in the registrations of poultry rations with
the Control Division of the State Board of Agriculture, Topeka,
Kan. The report dated September, 1931, lists 269 scratch grain
mixtures for growing chicks and 325 for laying hens. A tabulation of the ingredients used as pertaining to kafir and milo is
given in Table I.
It will be observed from Table I that either kafir or milo (or
both) is used in more than 95 per cent of the scratch grain
mixtures registered in Kansas for growing chicks and laying
hens, On the other hand, one seldom finds either listed in the
growing or laying mash mixtures. Kafir was listed in a variety
of ways such as whole kafir, cracked kafir, cut kafir, kafir chop,
kafir grits, steel-cut kafir, and screened cracked kafir. Milo was
usually listed as milo, cracked milo, or screened cracked milo.
Kafir and milo are not generally recommended in poultry
rations by agricultural experiment stations. A recent study
made by the author, of rations for growing chicks and laying
hens recommended by the poultry departments in 30 different
state agricultural experiment stations revealed the fact that
not a single state recommended either grain as first choice
in the laying mash. Texas was the only state that used either
or both in the scratch grain, and none of the states used either
grain in their all-mash starting feeds for baby chicks.
C. R. Ball in Farmers’ Bulletin 448 of the United States Department of Agriculture, published in 1911, states that grain
sorghum seed are well adapted both in size and composition for
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feeding all classes of poultry. “There were,” he continues, ‘‘in
1908 more than 100 firms engaged in the manufacture of over
200 brands of poultry feed. Thirty-three of these showed an
annual output of about 30,000 tons of these products. One-third
of this total consisted of the seed of Blackhull kafir. It is estimated that kafir and other grain sorghums formed fully 25 per
cent of the prepared poultry feed sold in this country.” These
figures appear very small compared with those of today. The
United States Department of Commerce reported 750 establishments prepared 7,353,244 tons of feed for animals and fowls in
1929. The number of firms preparing poultry feed and the output classed as poultry feed were not given, but one large Middle
West feed company estimated that approxinlately 50 per cent
of this tonnage was prepared for poultry.
COMPARATIVE FEEDING VALUE OF KAFIR, MILO, AND CORN
Numerous chemical analyses have shown that kafir and milo
are slightly higher in protein and lower in fiber than corn,
while corn is higher in fat than the sorghums. However, there
does not appear to be a sufficient variation in either the chemical composition or in the digestibility of the three grains to
cause any material difference in their nutritive value. In reviewing the literature covering sorghum feeding experiments
with farm animals, it was found that most of the early experimental work was done with cattle, sheep, and hogs and very
little with poultry. Poultry differ widely from other farm animals in eating habits and ability to utilize grain. For example,
pigs frequently do not thoroughly masticate their feed. As a
result, some of the smaller uncracked grains, such as the sorghums and wheat, pass through the animal undigested. Cattle
likewise pass undigested grain and their ability to utilize crude
fiber also differs from poultry in that the latter digest but little
if any of this material. The more thorough masticating habits
of sheep and the efficiency with which their feed is digested
correspond perhaps more closely to the chicken than to either
of the other groups named. There is no record of whole grain
feeds passing through the digestive tract of adult Chickens.
Certain weed seeds, however, have been known to pass through
growing chicks apparently undamaged.
In reviewing the results of more than 40 experiments with
farm animals and poultry in which actual comparisons were
made with corn, kafir, and milo it was found that corn was
ranked first 11 times or in 64 per cent of the 17 comparisons;
kafir was given first place 8 times or in 50 per cent of the 16
tests; and milo stood first 3 times or in 33 per cent of the 10
instances where a comparison was possible. Differences in the
feeding value of these grains appear to be very little. While
corn may have a slight advantage, the statement by early writers that grain sorghum seed possessed only 90 per cent of the
feeding value of corn does not appear to be substantiated by
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the available experimental data. In fact, the results frequently
showed kafir and milo to be equal and occasionally superior to
corn. While kafir usually gave better results than milo the latter was superior in some of the tests. The impression that sorghums were inferior to corn was apparently gained in early
studies when the vitamin-A-deficient sorghums were compared
with yellow corn which is rich in this vitamin. The kind of corn
used in the early work was not recorded. The yellow varieties,
however, have long been preferred for feeding live stock and
were probably employed in most comparisons. When alfalfa
hay was used to supplement the grain rations, the importance
of bright green, unbleached hay in supplying vitamin A was
probably not realized.
V. G. Heller of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station in a personal communication stated that it has been found
in recent analyses at that station that the variation in chemical
composition from year to year of any particular grain sorghum
is almost as much as for different sorghums in the same year.
This is due, he states, to moisture, climatic conditions, etc. Mr.
Heller further said: “We have also determined that widely
varying types of soils affect the analyses of the grains to a considerable extent.” In the light of this statement, slightly different feeding results may be expected at different stations and
at the same station for different years.
PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTAL WORK
An experiment to compare the relative feeding value of sorghums alone, as for example Blackhull kafir, Dwarf Yellow
milo, and Kansas Orange sorgo 3 seed, with a mixture composed
of corn, wheat, and kafir was begun December 1,1920. Each of
the four test flocks consisted of 11 White Leghorn females and
one male. The birds were confined in 7- by 16-foot pens in an
open-front semimonitor house. (Fig. 2. ) Chicks were hatched
from each of the four lots in the spring of 1921 and 12 pullets
from each lot were reared to maturity on rations similar to
those supplied the parent stock. The original birds were also
continued on the same rations for a second laying year. The
34 hens surviving the first year were all mated with the same
cockerel the second year in order that all chicks to be used in
continuing the work might have a common sire. Thus all females used subsequent to the beginning of the year 1922-’23
were half sisters. This procedure was followed for the purpose
of eliminating as much as possible the breeding factor and individual variability.
RATIONS USED
During the first year of the experiment the regular mash
recommended by the station for laying hens was used. This
feed will be referred to hereafter as the regular college ration.
The mash consisted of 32.2 per cent each of ground corn and
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ground oats, 1 6 per cent each of wheat bran and meat scraps,
and 3.5 per cent dried buttermilk. The scratch consisted of the
grains to be tested. Lot 1 received milo; lot 2, sorgo; lot 3,
kafir; and lot 4, control, cracked yellow corn 66.6 per cent,
wheat 16.6 per cent, and kafir 16.6 per cent.
The grain ration was supplemented with green sprouted
oats fed at the rate of 1 square inch a bird daily. Crusted oyster
shell, grit, and water were available at all times.
RESULTS 1920-1925
Since the rations fed differed somewhat the first year from
those used thereafter, the results are reported separately. The
period of the experiment was from December 1, 1920, to November 30, 1921. The average number of eggs produced per hen
was, for the milo group, 153.1; sorgo group, 129.4; kafir group,
152.8; and the mixed-grain group, 133.2. It will be seen from
these figures that milo and kafir gave about equal results followed by the control or mixed grain lot and the sorgo group.
Beginning with the year 1921-’22, the grains to be tested
were increased to about 87.5 per cent of the ration and this
system was followed until the completion of the preliminary
work in 1925. This change in the composition of the rations
was accomplished by substituting a mash composed of 76per
cent of the grain to be tested and 25 per cent high-grade meat
scraps for the mash used in 1920-’21, and feeding the mash and
3. This v a r i e t y has sometimes b e e n referred t o as K a n s a s Orange cane.
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scratch feeds in equal quantities. Three years' results with pullets and two years' with hens on these rations are given in
Tables II and III. It should be remembered that all birds in
these tests received the rations under comparison from the time
the chicks were hatched to the end of the experiment, which was
two to three years for those that lived. (Figs. 3 and 4.) In the
live-stock experiments reviewed, the animals were grown to
maturity on normal rations and finished on one of the grain
sorghums for a feeding period of a few months. In Table II
are given the gain in weight, feed consumption, and average
egg production for the pullets for the three tests.
In this series of experiments if the control group be considered as 100 per cent efficient in egg production, then kafir
rates 107.4 per cent, milo 94.5 per cent, and sorgo 72.2 per cent.
That is, the pullets which received kafir had a better average
production for the three years than any of the other lots. Feed
weights were kept each year, but the shifting of males, mortality of birds, and the overlapping of the pullet- and hen-production years made it difficult to keep these records accurate;
therefore, they were omitted in Tables II and III. The sorgo
seed was not nearly so palatable as the other grains tested judg-
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ing from the amount of scratch grain consumed. The sorgo lot
showed a distinct preference for the mash feed, while the control lot consumed more grain than mash. The kafir and milo
groups ate about equal amounts of grain and mash.
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There was a gain in average weight i n all lots during the
three experiments. The birds in the control lot averaged a little
heavier than the others, while the sorgo group weighed the
least.
Table III gives similar information for birds on the same
rations the second or hen year of their production.
Here again, if the control group is rated 100 per cent in
production, kafir would rate 95.9 per cent; milo, 95.1 per cent;
and sorgo, 85.3 per cent. It will be observed that all groups
gained slightly in weight. The hens showed the same dislike
for sorgo seeds that was evident with the pullets.
A few birds were available for third-year production records.
Beginning with the third year, the rations were reversed. The
birds which had been reared on milo were fed the kafir ration:
those reared on sorgo were given mixed grain; the kafir group
was fed milo; and the mixed grain lot was supplied sorgo.
The number of hens which completed 12 months’ production for each of the three years, the rations fed each year, and
egg production of each lot for each of the three years are given
in Table IV.
In this particular group of experiments, the sorgo followed
by control did not produce so well as the control followed by
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This comparison shows the advantage of a good starting
and growing ration. The control group which led the first year
ranked third the second year and fourth the third year. The
kafir group which rated second the first two years led all others
the last year when fed milo. The milo-kafir combination averaged better than the control-sorgo lots.
In the foregoing experiments the control group showed a
slight advantage over both kafir and milo, and sorgo was quite
inferior. The results from the kafir-fed birds were a little better than the milo group. Since small numbers of birds were
used in the different tests it was decided to repeat the work
using much larger numbers.
EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS, 1930-1932
It was not until the spring of 1930 that suitable equipment
was available to continue the experimental work on grain sorghums with large numbers of birds, A long brooder house
equipped with gas brooder stoves was used for starting the
chicks. An open-front. straw-loft house (fig. 1) 2 0 by 80 feet
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in size and divided into four pens, each of which contained 400
square feet of floor space, was used as laying quarters for the
birds.
METHOD O F PROCEDURE, 1930-1931
Twelve hundred Single Comb White Leghorn chicks were
hatched from the college flock on May 14, 1930. These were
divided into four lots of 300 each and reared to maturity in a
long brooder house which was equipped with sanitary runways
in order that the chicks might have outdoor exercise without
coming in contact with the ground. When about half grown,
the pullets were transferred to their laying quarters where
they were kept confined throughout a nine-month laying period.
The cockerels were separated from the pullets on June 11
in order to give the latter more room. On June 26, coccidiosis
was discovered in Lot I. Within four days it had spread to Lots
II and IV. Lot III was never so seriously infected a s the other
lots. Thirty-five per cent of dried buttermilk was added to the
ration and the necessary sanitary precautions were taken t o
combat this disease. The infection had disappeared by July 12.
While only healthy and normal appearing birds were kept for
this experiment, this disease and a subsequent infestation of
tapeworms probably interfered with the results and caused
heavy mortality among the adult birds.
RATIOS USED
The grains to be tested were kafir, milo, white corn, and
yellow corn and wheat. On the basis of previous experiments
it was felt that sorgo was not a satisfactory poultry feed when
it constituted the major bulk of the feed, hence its use experimentally was discontinued, The supply of kafir and milo for
the first experiment was purchased in one order from a firm in
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Kansas City. The white corn, yellow corn, wheat, and other ingredients were obtained from local feed dealers, To a common
basal ration was added an equal amount of the different grains
thus making the ration carry 50 per cent of the grain to be
studied. The complete rations are given in Table V.
After the rations were thoroughly mixed, samples from each
were analyzed in the analytical laboratory. The results of these
analyses are given in Table VI.
These figures show but little variability in the chemical constituents of the rations fed. The all-mash feed was available in
open hoppers from the time the chicks were hatched until the
end of the first laying year 15 months later. Grit, oyster shell,
water, and straw litter were the only supplements available.
No scratch grain, green succulent feed, or wet mash was fed.
Artificial lights were not used, This applied particularly to the
sorghum-reared birds as contrasted with the group described in
the following paragraph.
While chicks were being reared in the above manner, several hundred other White Leghorn chicks hatched from the
same strain but several weeks earlier in the spring were reared
in battery brooders the first four weeks, then transferred to gas
burning brooders for four weeks after which the pullets were
removed to an alfalfa range where they were kept until mature.
This group received the regular college ration which is given
in Table VII.
Scratch grain composed of equal parts of cracked yellow
corn and wheat was hopper fed in addition to the above growing mash after the chicks were nine weeks of age.
On November 1, 50 of the more desirable pullets from each
of the four lots reared in confinement and 50 pullets reared on
the range were leg banded, weighed. and placed in each of the
four pens in the laying house. The object was to compare birds
reared i n confinement on the different rations being tested, with
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birds reared on the college ration with free range and placed
on the test rations at maturity. The handling of the latter group
conformed more closely to the methods used in grain-sorghum
feeding experiments with other types of farm animals, while
the former method served as a check on the earlier work at
this station with poultry. The two groups of birds are referred
to hereafter as group 1, reared in confinement on experimental
ration, and group 2, reared on range and fed college ration
prior to the test period.
METHOD OF PROCEDURE, 1931-1932
The outbreak of coccidiosis and the high mortality among
the mature pullets in 1930-1931 made it seem advisable to repeat the experiment. Therefore, chicks of Single Comb White
Leghorns from the college flocks taken off April 25 and May 9,
1931, were reared in storage brooders until four weeks of age
when they were transferred to the long brooder house and
reared under gas heated brooders until about eight weeks of
age. The two hatches were put together June 6 when the first
group was six weeks of age. The males were disposed of as
broilers. The pullets were transferred to more commodious
quarters in the laying pens on August 11. The house was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the adult birds from the
previous experiment were removed August 1. With minor exceptions the same rations and methods of feeding used in the
previous year's work were followed the second year. To minimize the development of slipped tendons, possibly resulting
from a feed very high in minerals, the steamed bone meal and
calcium carbonate were omitted from all four rations, and meat
cracklings, low in ash and testing about 75 per cent crude protein, were substituted for meat and bone scraps for the first
eight weeks. After eight weeks, meat and bone scraps, which
tested about 50 per cent crude protein, replaced the cracklings
in the different rations. The chicks did exceptionally well from
the beginning and there were no disease or parasitic outbreaks
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to interfere with the results. The lots were designated as Lots
V, VI, VII, and VIII which corresponded to Lots I, II, III and IV,
respectively, for the year 1930-’31.
The all-mash rations used during the year 1931-’32 are given
in Table VIII.
The 4 pounds of bone meal and calcium carbonate formerly
used were replaced by 4 pounds additional wheat bran. A chemical analysis was not made of these rations but aside from the
decrease in ash the composition was probably quite similar to
that of the first year.
A corresponding number of Leghorn pullets were again
reared on the regular college ration and in a manner similar
to the method outlined for the previous year.
All pullets were carefully examined on October 1, 1931, and
50 from each group were leg banded, weighed individually, and
returned to their respective pens and designated as group 1,
which meant they had been reared in confinement on the experimental rations. A corresponding number of Leghorn pullets from the range were similarly selected, leg banded, weighed,
and placed in each of the four pens. These were designated
group 2 which signified that they were reared on the range and
fed the college ration until mature. This procedure provided
100 pullets for each of the four lots. Those from the range, having been hatched earlier than those reared in confinement, were
in fairly heavy production by the first of October. Very few of
the pullets in group 1 were in production at this time. The pullets were placed in the laying house one month earlier than the
previous year.
The work progressed very satisfactorily until about the middle of March when infectious bronchitis appeared in Lot V.
Because of the serious nature of this disease. trapnesting ceased
in this lot from March 15 to 21, inclusive, in order to prevent
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the trapnester from spreading the disease on his hands and
clothing to the other lots. While mortality from this cause was
not large, the individual trapnest record had been interrupted
thus making it impossible to treat the results statistically for
the entire production period. The eggs laid during this period
were credited to the pen as a whole the same as eggs laid on
the floor or outside the trapnests.
The criteria used for measuring the nutritive value of the
grains were: (1) Feed consumption, ( 2 ) gain or loss in adult
weights, (3) egg production, (4) hatchability of eggs, and (5)
mortality of adult birds. The results for the two years are presented in Tables IX to X V , inclusive.
FEED CONSUMED
The all-mash feed was available in open hoppers at all times
throughout the duration of the experiment. While there was
some waste, it was reduced to a minimum by the style of hoppers used. The amount of feed consumed is given in Tables
IX and X.
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opportunity for selection of grains as is afforded in scratch
grain and mash or free-choice feeding. The feed consumption
records were calculated on a hen-day basis in order to include
the feed consumed by birds which did not live throughout the
experiment.
WEIGHTS OF PULLETS
The pullets were individually weighed in grams on a Quick
Stop Chatillion spring scale at the beginning and conclusion of
the laying period. The results are given in Tables XI and XII.
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The figures as recorded in Table X I show that the birds in
all lots for 1930-’31 lost weight during the nine-month laying
period. The average loss for group 1 was 2.78 grams, and for
group 2, 7.86 grams. The average loss for both groups was only
slightly less for Lot IV, which received corn and wheat, than
for the other lots. The results for 1931-’32, presented in Table
XII, are the reverse of those of the previous year in that all
birds made slight gains during the nine-month laying period.
The birds reared in confinement made an average gain of 13
grams while those reared on the range after eight weeks of
age gained an average of only 3.9 grams. When the figures for
the two years are combined, the changes in body weight become
insignificant in all groups. While the all-mash system of feeding has certain advantages as given above, it is with difficulty
that body weight is increased or even maintained under heavy
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egg production, especially when artificial illumination is not
used. The birds never seem to gorge their crops with finely
ground feeds before going to roost as they do when supplied
whole or cracked grain. During the long winter nights, the
birds in all probability do not consume an adequate amount of
feed for heavy egg production and the maintenance of body
weight.
EGG PRODUCTION
All birds were trapnested throughout the experiment thus
making individual egg records available except for one week in
1932 for Lot V when the nests were left open to eliminate handling the birds during a threatened disease outbreak. The egg
records were calculated on a hen-day basis. Eggs laid on the
floor or droppings boards were recorded as floor eggs and credited to the pen total for group averages. In considering individual averages, all eggs laid outside the trapnests were omitted.
The results for the two groups during both years are given in
Table XIII.
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While the differences in egg production in Table XIII are
not great, it will be noted that in the average for both years the
kafir lot led all others. The milo lots were second, followed
by white corn and the mixed grain or check ration. Since kafir
gave almost as good results as the other grains with which it
was compared in the five-year preliminary experiments and
slightly better results both years when tested with large numbers of birds, it would appear that it was equal to these grains
as a feed for poultry.
In the production figures for groups 1 and 2 for 1930-’31 the
pullets in group 1 averaged 11.3 eggs each more than those in
group 2. The pullets in group 2 were hatched earlier in the
spring than group 1 and a fairly large number had been laying
a few weeks when the experiment was begun November 1. Many
of the pullets in group 2 later went through a winter molt which
retarded egg production. There was no unseasonable molting
by either group during the 1931-’32 season and a comparison of
the production figures shows an average of 14.6 eggs per bird
in favor of group 2, which was reared on an alfalfa range. Combining the two years’ results for both groups, group 1 averaged
138.4 eggs per bird and group 2 averaged 140.1 egg each. While
the pullets were placed in the laying house October 1, or one
month earlier in 1931-’32 than the previous year, the egg records for the month of October were not included in the above
figures. The additional month merely served as a preliminary
period for adjustment and adaptation to the new quarters for
the birds brought in from the range. The pullets in group 1
had already occupied these quarters since the middle of August.
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In order to calculate the error of the mean, the individual
trapnest egg records for all birds which laid through the ninemonth period were used. All floor eggs and the eggs from all
birds that died before August 1 were deleted from the averages
submitted. The eggs produced the week of March 15 to 21, 1932,
when trapnest records were not available from Lot V, were also
deducted from all lots. Therefore, the means for 1931-’32 were
for 38 weeks of egg production while for 1930-’31 they were for
39 weeks. The results are given in Table XIV.
After evaluating all of the above data on egg production,
one might conclude that while the kafir lot holds a slight advantage, the difference is not great. Any of the grains tested
might be used successfully as the basis of a ration for laying
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pullets. S o consideration has been given to the cost of the different grains tested. In the grain sorghum area, where kafir
and milo are usually much cheaper than corn and wheat, it
would seem logical to depend upon these grains entirely with
proper supplements for preparing poultry rations.
HATCHABILITY
Early in April each spring five Single Comb White Leghorn
males were placed in each lot for the purpose of comparing the
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hatchability of the eggs. One week’s production of eggs were
taken from each lot and set April 17, 1931, and April 12, 1932.
The complete records for each group and lot are given for both
years in Tables X V I and XVII.
In the data for 1931, Lot I led by a fraction of 1 per cent in
hatchability, followed i n order by Lots III, IV, and II. The difference was only 4.5 per cent between Lot I with the highest
hatchability and Lot I1 which ranked lowest. However, in 1932,
the difference between the highest and lowest groups was 15.7
per cent and there was almost a reversal of results, the lots
ranking in the following order: VII, VI, VIII, and V.
The hatchability of all lots in group 1 for both years was
71.5 per cent, and for group 2,68.7 per cent. This would indicate that rearing birds in confinement for one season did not
interfere with the hatchability of their eggs. The hatchability
records for both years combined are given in Table XVIII.
In order to obtain a better comparison of the above results,
the means for the percentage hatchability and the probable
error of the difference were calculated as follows:
( a ) Means f o r percentage hatchability
P x Q
N
when P=percentage successes (percentage hatch)
Q=percentage failures (percentage not hatched)
N=Number of fertile eggs set
( b ) Probable error of the difference
Em = 0.6745 X
E (dif) =
E2 (1) + E2 (2)
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The results are presented i n Table XIX.
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and III in group 1 and also when the two groups were combined.
These differences are more than four times their probable errors. As explained in the footnote, the differences might have
been due to inferior male birds or to improper incubation for
the kafir lot the second year.
MORTALITY
As previously stated, the mortality of adult birds for the first
year was extremely high. It was thought this might be due to
chronic coccidiosis, However, an examination of several birds
by the poultry bacteriologist revealed negative results. Many
of the birds examined were badly infested with tapeworms. The
losses could not be attributed to any one specific disease as the
birds died from miscellaneous causes. The mortality was much
lower the second year as indicated in Table XXI.
TABLE XXI.-- MORTALITY OF ADULT BIRDS.
For some unexplainable reason the control lots experienced
the greatest mortality. These lots were housed in the west end
of the building where they were possibly exposed more to the
northwest winds than the other lots. This, however, did not
appear to make a great difference in the comfort of the pens.
The milo group showed greater mortality than the kafir group,
which is in harmony with the results obtained in the preliminary experiments.
SUMMARY
The grain sorghums are extensively grown in Kansas. Kafir
and milo lead all other varieties in popularity. They are commonly used for feeding poultry when available and they are in
great demand for use in preparing commercial feeds on both
the east and west coasts. Results from the feeding of these sor-
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ghums have been satisfactory except when the grain has been
damaged by exposure to the weather or by improper storage.
Since the possibilities of grain sorghums becoming damaged
are somewhat greater than for field corn, the former are looked
upon with disfavor by many poultrymen. Corn is still shipped
into the grain-sorghum area of southwestern Kansas for feeding poultry. This seems unnecessary in the light of the experiments reported in this publication. The old belief that kafir and
milo have 10 per cent less feeding value than corn is not substantiated by these poultry-feeding experiments.
The sorghum-feeding experiments with poultry herein reported may be summarized, according to the criteria used in
measuring the results, as follows:
Feed Consumed.-The difference between the maximum and
minimum amount of feed consumed in the last two experiments
by any two lots was only 2.98 pounds per bird for a period of
nine months. The amount eaten agreed fairly well with the
number of eggs produced. The kafir lot which laid the greatest
number of eggs led in the amount of feed consumed. This indicated that all grains used in these experiments were equally
palatable when fed in all-mash rations.
Maintenance of Body Weight.-While an appreciable gain
in body weight during the laying year was possible with grain
and mash feeding in the preliminary experiments, quite the reverse was found to be true when feeding all-mash rations. Possibly artificial illumination would have assisted in maintaining
body weight. The loss in weight during the first year that allmash feed was used ranged from 4.26 per cent for the control
group to 6.53 per cent for the kafir lot. The second year a small
gain was recorded in all lots ranging from a gain of 10.2 per
cent for the kafir lot to 7.1 per cent for the pullets fed milo. The
differences were so small in all comparisons that they may be
regarded as insignificant. When the results of both years are
combined slight gains in original body weight are evident in all
except the white-corn lot which lost 1.1 per cent.
Egg Production.-When considering the 1930-32 results the
kafir lot led in egg production in the majority of comparisons,
although statistically the differences were not significant. The
kafir lots were followed by the milo and control lots. The latter two lots exchanged positions in different comparisons. The
white-corn lot gave slightly less production than any of the
others. The greatest difference in the combined results from
all 1930-'32 comparisons was 9.84 while the probable error of
the difference for the two means was 2.84.
Hatchability.-A fairly large number of eggs were set from
each lot of pullets and if the grains fed affected the hatchability,
it should have appeared in the result. A variation the first year
from 67.9 per cent for the milo lot to 72.6 per cent hatchability
for the kafir lot is not a wide range. The results from the other
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two lots were between these figures. A poor hatch of 58.1 per
cent for the kafir lot the second year reduced the average for
this group materially. The white-corn lot led with 73.8 per
cent. In the combined results, the white-corn lot, which showed
the highest hatchability, averaged 8.1+1.74
per cent more than
the kafir lot, which had the lowest average. While this difference is significant, it probably would not have been with a normal hatch in the kafir lot.
Mortality.-The mortality of adult birds was least in the
kafir lot the first year and greatest in the control group. The
second year the lowest death rate was in the white-corn lot and
again the highest was in the control pen. Combining the results for both years, the kafir and white-corn lots had a mortality of 23 per cent; milo, 29 per cent; and the yellow corn and
wheat lot, 35 per cent, These results again place kafir ahead
of milo and mixed grain.
While the control group did not show up so well as the
others, the results were probably about normal for this strain
of birds. The environment, care, and management were the
same for all lots. The appearance of the pullets placed in Lot
IV at the beginning of each year was equal to that of any of
the others. Lots I and IV occupied the end pens in the house
and were, therefore, more exposed to the weather than Lots II
and III. Other experiments in the same house before and since
this one have not resulted in less satisfactory results in Lot IV.
The average egg production for Lot IV was 52.1 per cent,
which was at the rate of 190 eggs per bird a year. This, with an
average hatchability of 71.8 per cent was as satisfactory as ordinarily obtained from this strain of birds. The high mortality
in this lot was the only criterion by which the group appeared
abnormal.
The feeding experiments with poultry reported in this publication indicate that the nutritive value of kafir and milo is
about equal and that both of these grain sorghums may give
as good or better results than white corn or yellow corn and
wheat when fed at the rate of 50 per cent of the total ration.
An important fact to keep in mind is that all grains used in
these experiments were of excellent quality at the time they
were fed.
It should also be remembered that both sorghum and white
corn are deficient in vitamin A and unless this important vitamin supplements rations composed largely of these grains, feeding results will not be satisfactory. This vitamin can be supplied adequately in the form of green succulent feed or as alfalfa leaf meal. The results from vitamin-A-deficient grains
properly supplemented compare very favorably with rations in
which yellow corn, which contains this vitamin, is used as the
principal grain.
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CONCLUSION
Good-quality kafir or milo can replace either white or yellow corn pound for pound in a ration for growing chicks or
laying hens when adequately supplemented with other nutrients.
GRAIN SORGHUM RATIONS RECOMMENDED
In view of the results here reported by feeding grain sorghums, it would not seem necessary or advisable to ship corn
into the grain-sorghum area to feed poultry. The grain sorghums so extensively grown in that section can be utilized when
properly supplemented with other nutrients in the preparation
of complete and well-balanced rations. The following cornless
poultry rations can be used where good-quality kafir and milo
are available :
One per cent of a potent cod-liver or sardine oil in the mash
is advisable from November to April when the birds are confined in the house and denied direct sunshine. Birds on free
range do not require fish oils. The variety and amount of grains
used in the scratch mixture should depend upon the price and
availability.
Fourth or fifth cutting bright green alfalfa hay should be
kept in racks before hens at all times during the winter when
green succulent feed or alfalfa leaf meal is not available. Such
hay when finely ground makes a good substitute for commercial
alfalfa leaf meal. The dry mash should be kept in open hoppers and accessible at all times.
The scratch grain can be scattered in deep litter or fed in
troughs each evening at the rate of 12 to 14 pounds per 100
hens. It is better, however, to feed according to the birds' appetites rather than by measure, The previous scratch feed
should be cleaned up before additional grain is fed. Clean
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water, grit, and crushed oyster shell or high-grade crushed
limestone should be available at all times.
II. Rations for Growing Chicks
When chicks do not have access to direct sunshine after one
week of age, 1 per cent of a vitamin-D-potent cod-liver or sardine oil should be added to the above mixture beginning with
the first feed.
The starting ration should be fed in open hoppers as soon
as the chicks are placed in the brooder or when 24 to 36 hours
of age, and it should be available at all times. One 4-foot hopper accessible on both sides should be provided for each 100
chicks.
Scratch Grain composed of 50 pounds of whole kafir or milo
and 50 pounds of whole wheat should be hopper fed beginning
with the fifth week and thereafter. The alfalfa leaf meal may
be omitted after the chicks are 8 to 10 weeks of age when outdoor range with access to green feed is provided. An equivalent
amount of ground kafir or milo should be added to the mash.
III. Rations for Fattening Poultry
A. Crate Feeding
B. Pen or Lot Feeding
Kafir or milo, ground .... 6 0 lbs.
Kafir or milo ..................100 lbs.
Liquid milk-all birds
Wheat, ground ............... 4 0 lbs. OR
Buttermilk .................... 2 0 0 Ibs.
will drink.
Ration A.__Mix 2 pounds of buttermilk with 1pound of mash
and feed twice a day in a V-shaped trough. When liquid milk
is not available, add 40 pounds of condensed milk to 100 pounds
of grain and enough water to give the consistency of thick
cream. Start the birds gradually not supplying all they will
eat until the third day. Fatten 10 to 14 days.
Ration B.__The grain can either be soaked in milk or it can
be fed dry and milk can be supplied as a beverage for a period
of four to six weeks.
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