Grain-free dog foods beat ancient grains in a palatability study, but that doesn’t mean ancient grains like sorghum and millet don’t have a role in pet food formulations, said Julia Guazzelli, graduate research assistant at Kansas State University, in a video from Petfood Forum 2018 (see video below).

Palatability differences between grain-free and ancient grain dog foods

In her research, Guazzelli studied the processing characteristics and palatability of two dog foods with identical carbohydrate contents, but different carb sources. The palatability trial lasted two days and included 20 dogs.

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The ancient grain kibble contained ingredients, such as sorghum, millet and spelt, while the grain-free formulation used items such as potatoes, peas and tapioca starch.

“One very interesting results of the palatability study, dogs really preferred the grain free diets, compared to the ancient grains,” Guazzelli said. “Ancient grains have some health benefits, such as low glycemic index. So, they are very promising to be used in pet foods. Although our study showed they preferred grain-free, that doesn't mean they didn't like the ancient grains. There may be something in the grain free diet that they prefer more.”

Extrusion of grain-free versus ancient grain dog kibble

On the manufacturing end, ancient grain carb sources also behaved differently in extruders than grain-free dog food formulations.

“Different carbohydrate sources behaved differently during processing,” Guazzelli said. “So when you're formulating, even though you have the same amount of carbohydrates, if they're coming from legumes, tubers or grains, they’re going to behave differently. You have to let the operator know that, so they can change the inputs during processing.”

About Petfood Forum events

To learn more about ancient grains, novel ingredients and pet food palatability, attend Petfood Forum 2019. Petfood Forum is the not-to-be-missed trade show event for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers. Petfood Forum 2019 will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA on April 29 – May 1, 2019. Super early bird registration is now open for Petfood Forum 2019.