Poultry Feeding Trials In Kenya Showcase U.S. Sorghum

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is partnering with the leading feed manufacturing company in East Africa to demonstrate the reliability, price competitiveness and other benefits of using U.S. sorghum in animal feed rations in Kenya, working specifically to build trust in its quality, ease of importation and use in the country.

The Council has taken advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Quality Sampling Program (QSP) program to conduct a sorghum feeding trial for poultry in Nairobi, Kenya, procuring and shipping 60 MT (2,362 bushels) of U.S. sorghum to the Port of Mombasa. QSP allows international customers and the industries they represent to discover new U.S. agricultural products in the hope of opening up new markets for U.S. farmers and exporters.

“The Council has partnered with Unga Farm Care to conduct two feeding trials – one with layers and one with broilers,” said Katy Wyatt, USGC manager of global strategies, who is overseeing the project. “The layer trial, which began late last month, is comparing a control diet with no sorghum against a test diet replacing 50 percent of the corn in the ration with U.S. sorghum. The broiler trial that will begin later this month will compare a control diet using no sorghum with a test diet replacing 100 percent of the corn with U.S. sorghum.”

Both diets have been matched to meet identical nutritional levels, and production parameters are being monitored and recorded daily over the duration of the trial.

The objective of this trial is to demonstrate to Unga Farm Care and the broader Kenyan feed industry that U.S. sorghum is a viable feed ingredient and doesn’t have high tannin levels associated with sorghum sourced from other countries.

To help accomplish its objective in Kenya, the Council has been making use of frequent Zoom calls between Council staff, its consultants in the region and Unga employees to develop and finalize the feeding trial protocol in Kenya.

“Even though this COVID-19 pandemic has allowed virtually no travel, we’ve been been finding creative ways to continue to open up new markets for U.S. producers, including through work on these feeding trials,” Wyatt said.

The Council has a strong partnership with the feed manufacturers association in Kenya, known as AKEFEMA, which represents 330 registered feed mills in the country. That organization plans to disseminate the sorghum trial results to the industry later this year through a national seminar.

The East African region has an annual deficit of almost 2 million metric tons (78.7 million bushels) of corn during a normal year. Droughts and an unprecedented outbreak of desert locusts across East Africa and parts of the Middle East in 2020 have only added to this shortfall, driving up local prices of corn and, ultimately, commercial feed in Kenya.

“Recognizing this situation, the Council has been prioritizing increasing the Kenyan feed industry’s familiarity with alterative feed grain ingredients, including U.S. sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS),” Wyatt said. “We hope the trials will help the Kenyan industry lower feed costs, provide them with an alternative feed ingredient that reduces the need to compete for local corn that is used for human consumption, and create a new market for U.S. sorghum producers.”

The Council plans to follow up its sorghum QSP trial with a U.S DDGS trial later this year.

Find out more about the Council’s work in Kenya.