Evaluation of Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) as Replacent for Maize in the Diet of Growing Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

  • Muriu, J.I. (Dept. of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Njoka-Njiru, E.N. (Dept. of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Tuitoek, J.K. (Dept. of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Nanua, J.N. (Department of Dairy and Food Sci. and Tech., Egerton University)
  • Received : 2001.06.13
  • Accepted : 2001.11.16
  • Published : 2002.04.01


Thirty six young New Zealand white rabbits were used in a randomised complete block (RCB) design with a $3{\times}2$ factorial treatment experiment to study the suitability of sorghum as substitute for maize in the diet of growing rabbits in Kenya. Six different diets were formulated to contain 35% of one of the three different types of grain (maize, white sorghum or brown sorghum) and one of the two different levels of crude protein (CP) 16 or 18.5% and fed to growing rabbits for a period of six weeks. The tannin content of the grains was 0.05, 0.52 and 5.6% chatechin equivalents for maize, white and brown sorghum respectively. Weaning weight at 35 days of age was used as the blocking criterion at the beginning of the experiment. Results of feed intake, weight gain, feed conversion efficiency, feed digestibility, as well as the blood parameters, indicated that white sorghum was not significantly different from maize. Animals fed on diets containing brown sorghum had a lower average daily gain (ADG) and a poorer feed conversion efficiency (FCE) (p<0.01) in comparison with those fed on diets containing maize or white sorghum. The 18.5% CP level gave a better FCE (p<0.05) compared with the 16% CP level. However, increasing the level of CP did not improve the utilisation of any of the grains. It was concluded that white sorghum could effectively substitute maize in the diet of growing rabbits. On the other hand, the use of brown sorghum in the diets of growing rabbits may compromise their growth rate. This may be due to the high concentration of tannins in the brown sorghum.


  1. Arnold, G. W. and M. L. Dudzinski. 1978. Ethology of Freeranging Domestic Animals, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  2. Ayers, A. C., R. P. Barrett and P. R. Cheeke. 1996. Feeding value of tree leaves (hybrid poplar and black locust) evaluated with sheep, goats and rabbits. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 57-51-62.
  3. Dogget, H. 1988. Sorghum. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical Cooperation.
  4. Wahome, R. G., B. N. Mitaru and P. N. Mbugua. 1992. Replacing maize with Sorghum in breeding pigs diets. Proceedings of the All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture. Nov. 23-27 1992. Nairobi, Kenya.
  5. Kumar, R. 1992. Antinutritional factors. The potential risks of toxicity and methods to alleviate them. In: Legume Trees and Fodder Trees as Protein Sources for Livestock. Animal Production and Health Paper (Ed. Speedy and Pugliese). Proceedings of the FAO expert consultation held at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, October 1991. FAO Rome.
  6. Douglas, J. H., T. W. Sullivan, N. J. Gonzalez and M. M. Beck. 1993. Differential Age response of turkeys to protein and sorghum tannin levels. Poult. Sci. 72:1944-1951.
  7. Schaffert, R. E., D. L. Oswalt and J. D. Axtell. 1974. Effect of supplental protein on the nutritive value of high and low tannin sorghum (Moench) grain for the growing rat. J. Anim. Sci. 39:500-505.
  8. CAB international. 1987. Manual of poultry production in the tropics. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) UK.
  9. El Maki, H. B., E. E. Babiker and A. H. El Tinay. 1999. Changes in chemical Composition, grain malting, starch and tanning contents and protein digestibility during germination of sorghum cultivars. Food chem. 64:331-336.
  10. Jacob, J. P., B. N. Mitaru, P. N. Mbugua and R. Blair. 1996. The feeding value of Kenyan sorghum, sunflower seed cake and sesame seed cake for broilers and layers. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 61:41-56.
  11. Republic of Kenya. 1997. National Development Plan, 1997-2001. Ministry of Planning and National Development, Nairobi.
  12. Mbugua, J. K. 1995. The effects of sorghum type and inclusion level, protein Level, and pelleting, on the feeding value of sorghum-based broiler chicken rations. MSc Thesis. Egerton University, Kenya.
  13. Ferreira, W. M., M. J. Fraga and R. Carabano. 1996. Inclusion of grape pomace in subsitution for alfalfa hay, in diets for growing rabbits. Anim. Sci. 63:167-174.
  14. Makkar, H. P. S. 1993. Antinutritional factors in foods for livestock. Animal Production in developing countries Publication No. 16., Br. Soc. Anim. Prod. UK. pp. 69-85.

Cited by

  1. Caecal fermentation characteristics, blood composition and growth of rabbits on substitution of soya-bean meal by unconventional high-glucosinolate mustard (Brassica juncea) meal as protein supplement vol.2, pp.02, 2008,
  2. Significance of coarse cereals in health and nutrition: a review vol.51, pp.8, 2014,
  3. Sorghum: An Underutilized Cereal Whole Grain with the Potential to Assist in the Prevention of Chronic Disease vol.31, pp.4, 2015,
  4. Interaction of Sorghum Tannins with Wheat Proteins and Effect on in Vitro Starch and Protein Digestibility in a Baked Product Matrix vol.63, pp.4, 2015,
  5. Effect of corn replacement with enzose (corn dextrose) on growth performance and nutrient digestibility in broilers vol.26, pp.3, 2017,
  6. L.): Nutrients, bioactive compounds, and potential impact on human health vol.57, pp.2, 2017,
  7. Physical properties and estimated glycemic index of protein-enriched sorghum based chips vol.55, pp.3, 2018,
  8. Exploring the nutritional and phytochemical potential of sorghum in food processing for food security pp.0034-6659, 2018,