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The impact of climate on sorghum utilisation in poultry diet


With a variable climate, drought has been a constant and inevitable feature of the Australia landscape. The current drought began in NSW in mid - 2017 and it is equivalent to a major drought event on the long-term historical record (100 years) according to NSW Department of Primary Industry. Consequently, this led to reduction of grain harvest and increase of grain price by more than 50% for chicken-meat producers in Australia. Due to the shortage of wheat grains and its premium price in 2018, sorghum has been used in broiler diets with high inclusion rates (>50%). Surprisingly, growth performance was depressed when drought-stressed sorghum was offered in broiler chickens. The reduction of growth did not justify the price advantages in sorghum. The present project will include four feeding studies to evaluate nutrient utilisation and growth performance in broiler chickens offered sorghum grains planted under different growing conditions (drought versus irrigated).


Dr Sonia Liu, Dr Peter Selle.

Research location

Sydney Institute of Agriculture - Camden campus

Program type



This project has two unique features. Firstly, the growing conditions and variety of sorghums used in feeding studies, will be traceable. Sorghums will be planted at the Uni. Qld agricultural facility (Gatton) under both drought and irrigated conditions. Secondly, all sorghums (approx. 50-60) will be analysed for kafirin and protein content. APAF is the only Australian facility that has the capability for quantifying kafirin in conjunction with the total protein content of sorghums.  
The primary objective of this project is to identify and quantitate the anti-nutritive factors in drought-stressed sorghum and how to recover the reduction on broiler performance when these sorghums are used in diets. The specific objectives are, 

  1. Measure the influence of drought on nutrient profiles in sorghum, including starch content, amino acid profiles, kafirin, minerals and phenolic compounds.
  2. Evaluate the influence of sorghum varieties and growing conditions on growth performance, carcass yields and nutrient utilisations in broiler chickens
  3. Determine the optimal inclusion rate of drought-stressed sorghum in wheat-based broiler diets.
  4. Determine the efficacy of protease and phytase and the feasibility of reduced crude protein (CP) diets in broiler chickens offered diets based on drought-stressed sorghum.

Additional information

Industry scholarship opportunity is possible based on the quality of the application.  

HDR Inherent Requirements 

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2825

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