Alternative Forages: How does sorghum fit into California dairy systems?

We've received a grant to look at the viability of sorghum silage in California dairy systems. This summer, we are looking to work with dairies that are growing sorghum for silage. Below you will find the goals and objectives of the project; to make it simple, I've included what we're looking to do in this first year.

We're looking for dairies to participate this summer. This entails:

1. Filling out a sorghum silage management survey - information from field to feed-out

2. Allowing us to sample at harvest and again (once) during feed-out. We'll be looking at nutritive value, physical characteristics, as well as fermentation characteristics of the silage.

The project's overall goal is to determine the value of sorghum as silage in California dairy farms. Specific objectives are to:

1. Determine water use and water use efficiency of select sorghum varieties grown for silage per unit of feed energy;

2. Evaluate sorghum silage for use by California dairy farms, including cultivar selection, irrigation water allocation, harvest and ensiling practices, as well as the ensiling characteristics and nutrient profile of the silage;

3. Determine quantity of manure nutrients (i.e. N, P, K) that should be applied to a sorghum crop;

4. Conduct a feeding study with lactating cows to determine maximum inclusion rates of the most promising sorghum silages without compromising animal performance and health.

If you are growing sorghum this summer and would like to participate, or would like to learn more about the project, please contact Jennifer Heguy at or (209) 525-6800.