Pet Food Ingredients
on October 6, 2016

Millet: An alternative ingredient in dog and cat food?

With good protein quality and more fat than most grains, millet has the potential to serve as an ‘alternative’ ingredient in pet food.

Millet is a small seed commonly associated with wild bird food. Its inclusion in pet foods may seem less than serious as it pertains to food production and nutritional support, but it may actually be one of the more nutrient dense of the cereal grains. Because of this, including millet as a new ingredient in dog and cat foods in order to stay competitive is something that progressive pet food companies may want to consider.

Millet describes a group of warm season annual grasses with a large inflorescence that matures to form bundles of small seeds suspended on a single stalk as barrel-shaped panicles of 10–150 cm in length. There are several varieties, including pearl millet, finger millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, tef, fonio millet and others. For commercial purposes, the most common is pearl millet. The millets originated in Africa and have migrated over the past 4,000 years or so to other regions through commerce. During this time, there has been concerted effort to improve and establish the genetics so that it fits into modern cropping systems. Millet is most adapted to relatively hot, arid regions of the world and will persist under drought conditions that most other grains will not. Today, the largest producer of millet on a global scale is India. In the US, it is grown in the southeastern states as a forage and is well adapted for seed production in the arid regions of the South-Central US and Southwest.

Pearl millet is a nearly…

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