Thirteen extensively characterised grain sorghum varieties were evaluated in a series of 7 broiler bioassays. The efficiency of energy utilisation of broiler chickens offered sorghum-based diets is problematic and the bulk of dietary energy is derived from sorghum starch. For this reason, rapid visco-analysis (RVA) starch pasting profiles were determined as they may have the potential to assess the quality of sorghum as a feed grain for chicken-meat production. In review, it was found that concentrations of kafirin and total phenolic compounds were negatively correlated with peak and holding RVA viscosities to significant extents across 13 sorghums. In a meta-analysis of 5 broiler bioassays it was found that peak, holding, breakdown and final RVA viscosities were positively correlated with ME:GE ratios and peak and breakdown RVA viscosities with apparent metabolizable energy corrected for nitrogen (AMEn) to significant extents. In a sixth study involving 10 sorghum-based diets peak, holding and breakdown RVA viscosities were positively correlated with ME:GE ratios and AMEn. Therefore, it emerged that RVA starch pasting profiles do hold promise as a relatively rapid means to assess sorghum quality as a feed grain for chicken-meat production. This potential appears to be linked to quantities of kafirin and total phenolic compounds present in sorghum and it would seem that both factors depress RVA starch viscosities in vitro and, in turn, also depress energy utilisation in birds offered sorghum-based diets. Given that other feed grains do not contain kafirin and possess considerably lower concentrations of phenolic compounds, their RVA starch pasting profiles may not be equally indicative.
Keywords: Kafirin; Phenolics; Poultry; Rapid visco-analysis; Sorghum; Starch.