The inclusion of grain sorghum in diets for broiler chickens is quite common; however, under Australian conditions, the utilisation of starch/energy by birds offered sorghum-based diets appears inadequate. Various factors inherent in sorghum, including kafirin, phenolic compounds and phytate, may limit energy utilisation. The recent quantification of kafirin, the dominant protein fraction in sorghum, has allowed its nutritional significance to be assessed. This is important as indirect evidence suggests that kafirin concentrations in local sorghums are increasing as an unintended consequence of breeding programs. Presently, Australian sorghums do not contain condensed tannin but, from analyses and assessments of other polyphenolic compounds and phenolic acids, “non-tannin” phenols appear to be negative influences. Anecdotally, white sorghums are considered to be superior to red varieties thus the fact that polyphenolic pigments are responsible for the “redness” of sorghum assumes relevance. Inclusions of sulphite reducing agents in broiler diets have generated promising responses but seem dependent on sorghum properties. Preliminary studies have shown the possibilities of using rapid visco-analyser (RVA) starch pasting profiles, promatest protein solubilities and grain textures to indicate sorghum quality and further studies are required to confirm these hypotheses. These assessments may indicate which sorghums will best respond to reducing agents such as sodium metabisulphite. Finally, the usually modest responses of broilers to exogenous feed enzyme inclusions in sorghum-based are considered in this review.
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