Feeding proso millet grain to broilers, turkeys and laying hens can result in performances similar to that obtained with maize or sorghum. However, the diet must contain adequate levels of protein and be correctly supplemented with lysine and methionine.
When proso millet, sorghum and maize grains were fed at a dietary level of 70% in broiler diets that contained suboptimal protein, the millet and sorghum diets without amino acid supplementation significantly depressed weight gain and feed efficiency at 4 weeks of age. This detrimental effect was corrected by methionine and lysine supplementation, with chicks fed proso millet and sorghum diets showing the greatest improvements. When the proso millet was compared to sorghum and maize on an equal weight or a protein equivalent basis in broiler diets with adequate protein (22.5%), there were no significant differences in body weight gain or feed efficiency (Luis et al., 1982a).
In comparison trials between proso millet, maize and sorghum, hens and pullets fed whole proso millet diets (70% inclusion rate) showed slight depressions in egg production but tended to lay larger eggs. Pullets fed millet diet had body weight gains similar to those fed the maize diet, but slightly greater than pullets fed the sorghum diet. Proso millet gave yolk color scores significantly greater than sorghum but less than maize grain. The specific gravity of eggs from pullets did not differ greatly among diets (Luis et al., 1982c). In layer diets, the replacement of 50 to 100% of maize grain (55% dietary level) by proso millet decreased egg production (from 4.08 to 2.72 eggs per week), feed efficiency and ß-carotene content, but other egg quality traits (such as egg weight, shape index, albumen index, yolk index, Haugh units, egg shell thickness) were not affected (Korane et al., 1991; Korane et al., 1992).
When proso millet was compared to maize or sorghum on an equal weight or a protein equivalent basis in turkey starter diets, containing optimal protein and with adequate supplemental methionine, there were no significant differences among grains relative to body weight gain and feed efficiency. In turkey starter diets containing adequate protein with supplemental methionine and lysine, young turkeys fed the proso millet diets were significantly heavier than those fed maize or sorghum diets at 28 days of age. Poults fed proso millet with no methionine supplementation showed significant depressions in body weight gain but not in feed efficiency (Luis et al., 1982b).
Wild and pet birds
Millet for bird food is often grown under contract. Large, bright white or red seed is preferred and premiums are occasionally paid for superior quality. Two types of bird seed mixes are marketed, one for wild birds and the other for cage birds. The cage bird mixes require the better quality proso millet and premiums are often paid to obtain this type of seed (Berglund, 2007).