The University of California is currently conducting sorghum research that is aimed at finding the most effective methods of growing sorghum as an alternative food source for dairy cows. The project is moving into its second year and dairy producers growing sorghum for silage are needed to further the study.
Jennifer Heguy is a farm advisor covering Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties for the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The research initially began after writing a grant when water supplies were still extremely limited. “The goal of the project is to look at the viability of sorghum for California when we’re in these drought type situations,” Heguy stated.
During the first year of the project, Heguy and her team sampled approximately 16 dairies during their sorghum harvest to investigate nutrient characteristics and chop length, to establish a baseline for the best possible growing practices. Heguy said they are now sampling the same piles at feed-out to investigate fermentation characteristics and to compare the nutrient characteristics as well.
Now in year two of the study, more participation is needed to get a more comprehensive survey of information. “We’re currently looking for dairy producers that have sorghum in the ground and will be chopping it this summer to ensile,” said Heguy.
The next step of the project will take place in year three when researchers will be examining just how much sorghum can be fed to dairy cows without impacting production or animal health. By the end of the project, researchers hope to establish sorghum growing techniques to achieve optimum nutrition.
Dairy producers who would like to participate in the sorghum research or learn more about the project are encouraged to contact Heguy and her team. The latest issue of UCANR’s California Dairy Newsletter also provides more detailed information on some of the most successful growing techniques for sorghum.