More than four years ago, the Sorghum Checkoff set out to find new, high-value market opportunities for sorghum producers when the expansive duck market in Asia caught the eye of several producers. In 2013, China produced 694 million layer and broiler ducks for market, opening an opportunity for the inclusion of sorghum in their nutrition programs. In an effort to enter this market, the Sorghum Checkoff partnered with the U.S. Grains Council to begin a two-year duck feeding trial to examine the use of sorghum in duck nutrition programs.

“We were on an international trade mission when the idea first came up to explore sorghum’s use in feeding ducks,” said Adam Baldwin, former Sorghum Checkoff board director from McPherson, Kansas. “In looking at the potential size of the market for U.S. producers, we wanted to move forward but quickly realized there were no research studies done with ducks and sorghum.”

The Sorghum Checkoff board of directors decided to conduct a duck feeding trial, and the results were recently made available. Two separate trials were conducted to investigate meat duck and layer duck production with sorghum substituted for corn in treatment rations.

The trial revealed positive results for ducks that consumed feed rations made with sorghum. Meat ducks fed a ration where sorghum was the main energy source, completely replacing corn, had the highest weight gain efficiency and the lowest feed cost. When a portion of corn was replaced with sorghum in the layer duck rations, egg weight and productivity were maintained. Sorghum inclusion in duck rations reduced feed costs, and as a result, sorghum can be cost-effective for both duck meat and egg production to meet consumer demand in Asian markets.

“Due to the size of the international duck market and these positive trial results, sorghum’s use in duck nutrition programs is a great market opportunity for producers,” said Kim McCuistion, Ph.D., Sorghum Checkoff animal nutrition director. “This feeding trial was the first step to accessing this new market for growers and educating potential buyers across Asia.”

The Sorghum Checkoff will continue to educate international customers on sorghum’s nutritional value in duck feed and will begin to promote its use overseas.