What is Sorghum?
Sorghum, or Grain Sorghum as it is sometimes known, is a cereal grain that grows in a similar fashion to Corn.
Sorghum originated from Eygpt in Africa and was likely brought over by the slave trade or slaves themselves.
Over time the grain spread throughout the world to other locations like India, China, Australia, and the Americas.
In the more recent past, it was grown and consumed in the southern United States as a cheap sweetener. Sorghum was a popular crop in difficult climates and conditions as it is more resistant to drought than other staples.
However, Sorghum has been used for several purposes other than as a sweetener. It has also been used as cost-effective livestock feed and to create bio-ethanol, similar to Corn.
Some of you may have inadvertently handled Sorghum as it can be commonly be found in birdseed or bird feed that is sold at grocery or specialist stores.
However, one of Sorghum’s more recent uses has been as a carbohydrate-providing ingredient in some dog food recipes.
Sorghum In Dog Food
Vigilant dog owners may have noticed that their dog’s recipe or one that they are considering contain Sorghum.
While many dog owners are familiar with seeing grains like Brown Rice or Corn in dog food recipes, Sorghum is far less common.
While the traditional grain ingredients have become more unpopular, some dog food manufacturers have turned to less common grains to move away from the bad press of Corn and Wheat.
Many brands have labeled these “Ancient Grains” which is a controversial term for some. The phrase is seen favorably by many, but others dispute it and claim that these grains are no different than others.
You can learn more about what Ancient Grains means in our article What Are Ancient Grains In Dog Food?.
Other examples of grains that have become more commonly used or labeled as Ancient Grains include Millet and Barley.
Sorghum Nutrition For Dogs
Being a cereal grain, Sorghum contains a large portion of carbohydrates, just like other grain ingredients.
However, it doesn’t just contain carbohydrates as it also contains over ten percent protein and as much as seven percent dietary fiber. This plant-based portion of protein is similar to other grains such as Rice and Barley.
Some studies have shown that Sorghum does not cause as big of a spike in insulin as other grains like corn do.
Foods with a high glycemic index such as corn are considered by some to be problematic as they can worsen conditions like Diabetes.
Proponents of Sorghum will state that it is high in antioxidants which have become popular in recent years and are believed to provide some health benefits.
While there is conflicting evidence, there are some studies to show that Sorghum is more digestible than other alternative carbohydrate-providing ingredients.
While this is undoubtedly disputed by some, it is likely that Sorghum is capable of being digested effectively by dogs.
Sorghum contains a limited number of vitamins and minerals but there are some beneficial inclusions.
Notable examples include Iron, Magnesium, and Phosphorus. Iron, in particular, is an essential mineral and is used in the production of red blood cells.
Dog Food Brands That Use Sorghum
While the number of dog food brands that use Sorghum in their recipes is not hugely expansive, there are some names that you may recognize.
You can see an example of the use of Sorghum in a dry dog food recipe in the below ingredient list of Taste of the Wild’s Ancient Stream recipe.
However, there is a significant number of brands that refuse to incorporate any grains into their products, including Sorghum.
Why Do Dog Food Brands Choose To Use Sorghum?
There is likely a number of reasons that dog food brands have chosen to use Sorghum over some of its alternative grains or plant-based ingredients.
For some, it will be a simple motivation: cost. Sorghum, just like many other grains, is a relatively low-cost ingredient that can provide valuable nutrition.
The use of low-cost ingredients like Sorghum will allow the brands to keep their costs low and make the price point more competitive to appeal to more customers.
However, some other pet food brands may choose to use Sorghum in their recipes for different reasons. This could include the belief that Sorghum is less likely to cause an allergic reaction or that it is more digestible for dogs.
While most dog owners may not understand why Sorghum could be advantageous to those with allergies, it is linked to the fact that Sorghum is gluten-free.
Regardless of the reason, we strongly believe that Sorghum will see increased use in dog food recipes in the coming years unless evidence emerges that there are superior alternatives or reasons not to.