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Rules for using sorghum crops for fodder

The following guidelines for using sorghum crops as fodder can help reduce the risk of cyanide and nitrate poisoning:

  • avoid grazing stressed plants or when regrowth is sprouting
  • delay grazing until plants are more than 45cm high for short varieties and 75cm high for tall varieties. Flowering plants or grain are less likely to poison stock
  • do not graze hungry stock. Animals are most likely to be poisoned if they eat large amounts in a short time
  • watch your stock closely in the first hour and monitor at least twice a day for the first few days
  • supplement stock with sulphur-containing licks or blocks or molasses (which is naturally rich in sulphur). Sorghums are low in sulphur and sulphur helps the liver to detoxify cyanide
  • test crops for cyanide and/or nitrate levels before using as fodder if in doubt about its safety
  • do not use crops that are unsafe to graze to make hay. Ensiling hazardous sorghum will reduce the cyanide content but the end product should be tested before use.