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Millet plant species form a unique agronomic group of small seeded grasses that are able to grow well and set seed in the most difficult of terrains. World millet production stands at around 30 million tonnes annually and for millions of people in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa, Millets along with sorghum are the most important staple foods.
The use of millet in commercial gerbil feed has slowly increased in the last couple of years as it is a very nutritious seed.
Plant Description - Pearl millet can grow anywhere between 4 to 10 feet in a favourable season, with good temperatures and moisture The larger varieties are used for forage and are low in seed yield, but the smaller compact hybrids are high yielding seed wise, and are used for grain production. Seed Description - The seeds of pearl millet are much larger than any other seeds of hulled millets available.
Anti-nutritional factors - When pearl millet is compared to other crops it has fewer anti-nutritional factors. Pearl millet when used as forage can have many uses, and can be cut for hay, haylage, green-chop or pasture.
Common names - common millet, broom corn millet, white millet, yellow hog millet, Hershey, prove millet, panic millet, brown corn, French millet.
Proso millet has also found a niche in the health food market due to its lack of gluten and can be included in the diets of people who cannot tolerate wheat. The starch content of Proso millet has been found to be more digestible than maize starch, and the total mineral content was higher than in most commonly consumed cereal grains including sorghum, however it has been found that processing the seed such as de-hulling results in considerable nutrient losses. Anti-Nutritional factors - The red seed varieties of proso millet tend to have smaller seeds and are considerably higher in tannins, which makes them less acceptable as a feed. The seeds should never be offered sprouted as the the growing shoots contain amounts of hordenine which is a phenylethylamine alkaloid. Proso Millet for Gerbils - This is the common millet often seen in sprays for sale in the bird section of many pet shop outlets, and is occasionally found in manufacturer's food mixes for gerbils. Nutrition - The protein in Foxtail millet is known to be deficient in Lysine, and its amino acid scores are comparable to that of Maize.
The total ash content of foxtail millet is good and is much higher than the more commonly consumed cereal grains including sorghum, however de-hulling of the grain, like in other millets, causes considerable nutrient losses.
Foxtail Millet for Gerbils - The wild ancestor to foxtail millet is the bristlegrass Setaria viridis, and this plant forms part of the gerbils native staple diet. Is a relative of Proso millet and is grown throughout India but is of little importance elsewhere and has received very little attention from plant breeders as a crop source. Barnyard or Japanese millet is a domesticated relative of barnyard grass and there exists several varieties. Finger millet is also known as African millet, and is an important staple food in both Eastern and Central Africa and also India. Finger millet is lower in protein than other millets and poor when compared to other cereals.
Millets are probably the world's earliest food plants used by humans, and certainly the first cereal grain that was used for domestic purposes. In India it is used to make roti which is a thin, flat cake made from millet flour and is used as the basis for various meals. The varieties used in mixes are excellent sources of protein, being comparable to wheat, but the quality of this protein is higher, having a better amino acid profile, and has it as also been previously mentioned, the seed is also a good source of fibre. Seeds are pointed at one end, rounded at the other and primarily light gold coloured with a blue or grayish tinge to them. Tannin content is low in the grain which makes the seeds very palatable to animals, and high tannin contents which are found in other grains like rye and sorghum have a tendency to inhibit protein digestion. Studies on rats fed high pearl millet diets also developed abnormal thyroid hormone patterns with hyperplasia. Saponins are found in many plants in their leaves, seeds, stems, roots, bulbs, blossoms or fruit. It is a high protein product with a good amino acid profile and is superior to other millets in this respect.

Within this genus, two species are of economic importance, these are proso millet, (Panicum miliacium) and little millet (Panicum sumatrense ) Proso millet is an annual grass, but isn't closely related to other millets such as pearl, foxtail, finger or the barnyard millets. It is used for human consumption in many parts of the world, and is a significant food source for millions of people. Bird seed manufacturers tend to use small amounts of this seed in mixtures to approve eye appeal of the final product. The grain colour is variable and seed colour ranges from white, orange to deep red, brown, purple and black. I love puffed millet or puffed rice on top on my oatmeal almost daily instead of granola, and it also tastes awesome mixed with almond breeze and chia seeds to make a chia pudding.
China, Ethiopia, India, the Niger, Nigeria and the former Soviet Union are estimated to account for about 80 percent of global millet utilization.
In Eastern Europe millet is used to make porridge and kasha or even fermented to make a beverage. The fat content of the seed is good, and is composed of approx 80% polyunsaturated fats which are beneficial to your gerbil. Heat treatment to destroy protease inhibitors or other harmful factors in the seed is also unnecessary. Pearl millet however has to be tested for nitrates before grazing is allowed as it is a notorious nitrate accumulator. The substance found to cause this in pearl millet is known as Vitexin, 8-gycosylapeginin, and it inhibits thyroid perodixidase activity. Seed colour is wide ranging and can be white, cream, yellow, orange, red, and black through to brown. Seed colour can vary greatly between varieties grown and range from a pale yellow, through to orange, red, brown and black. It has a much lower fat content than most other millets so can safely be used in reasonable quantity in their diets.
I picked this up the other day, love the nutrition stats, flavor, texture, and versatility! Evidence of millet cultivation using species such as Panicum mileacium (broomcorn millet) and Setaria italica (Foxtail millet) were found in China and date back to 7000-5000 BCE. The flowers and seeds occur in a long spike at the end of the stems and are reminiscent of a cat tail or bulrush. Pearl millet is the basic staple food in the poorest countries and used by the poorest people. More recently it has found its way into the pet market, and the most profitable current market is when it's used as an ingredient in wild bird seed mixes, and it has been repeatedly noticed that songbirds such as gold finches and juncos will readily eat the seed. Pearl millet, like sorghum, is generally 9 to 13 percent protein, but large variations in protein content, from 6 to 21 percent, have been observed. However to put this into perpective, this will only cause problems if very high quantities of the seed are consumed. The starch in some foxtail millet varieties were shown to be 100% amylopectin, and the starches contained in foxtail, provo and barnyard millets are known to be more digestible than maize starch. Foxtail millet has been reported to have a diuretic effect in horses that may lead to kidney and joint problems although no reports to actually document this have been found.
I actually make sugar free marshmallows and then use the puffed kamut or millet to make sugar free krispie treats! When compared to maize by weight however, pearl millet can be 8%-60% higher in crude protein, 40% richer in the amino acids Lysine and methionine, has good levels of Cystine, and is 30% richer in threonine. For breeding gerbils, and also if you need to increase the protein content of the food for other reasons, this seed could be considered, and added in small amounts to their staple feed. When used as birdseed it is cleaned and processed and becomes a major component of seed mixes for parakeets, canaries, finches, lovebirds, cockatiels and wild birds, here the use of large, bright and often red seed varieties are preferred. When severely stressed during growth, foxtail millet can accumulate high nitrate levels which are toxic to livestock when grazing it.

It has high protein content, being around 11% and the nutritional value of the protein is regarded as being slightly better than that of foxtail millet, but comparable to the other millets. Wild ancestors of millet such as Barnyard grass and panic grass were cultivated in Japan from around 4000BCE and in Europe there is evidence that millet was being consumed at least since the Iron Age. Being a small seed it is ideal for weaning gerbils too, as it's easily handled by them, and offers good nutritional values for the growing pup.
It is regarded as having the highest scores of all the millets when comparing essential amino acids.
It can often be purchased in health food outlets, but especially so in ethnic food markets, particularly to those catering for African or Indian foods where pearl millet is a traditional food. Seed and forage yields of this plant are low in tests and it has been found that it doesn't compete well with weeds.
It is comparable to proso millet in protein and fat content, but the actual quality of the protein, like that of little millet have the poorest amino acid values of all the millets.
Finger millet, like foxtail and Kodo millet, contain less fat in the kernel than other millets. The variety in question is known as proso millet, or as it's more commonly known amongst bird keepers as Chinese broomcorn millet and is sold in long golden sprays of seed heads, and occasionally you may see it as a red seed variety. The essential amino acid profile shows more Iysine, threonine, methionine and cystine in pearl millet protein than in proteins of sorghum and other millets. It is however susceptible to other carcinogenic mycotoxins and Fusarium fungus can be a problem when harvests are delayed, however under normal conditions levels of Fusarium toxins remain extremely low, Pearl millet grows very well using organic methods and there is little need to use herbicides on the plant.
It has only been very recently that millet has made a comeback and is being promoted as a very healthy grain. There is in fact only a few herbicides labeled for pearl millet when compared to other millets grown, and these tend to be used to combat emerging weeds prior to pearl millet being planted, as seedlings can be slow growing.
The truth of the matter is that it is the sprouted seeds or young plants of proso millet that contain quantities of Hordenine in their stems. In turkey diets they become increasingly heavier when fed proso than when fed on either sorghum or corn diets, however these weight gains aren't noticed in broiler chicken diets, although it is stated that proso millet, either ground or whole, is an excellent ingredient for layer diets.
It has been recently shown in studies on diabetic rats that both Kodo millet and finger millet which are high in antioxidants have a very beneficial effect in protecting against oxidative stress and maintaining glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. When used as a feed for livestock some pressing is necessary to crack the hard seed coat to allow for better digestion. However several other seeds have the ability to manufacture this potent alkaloid in their growing stems, including Barley, sorghum and wheat, and for this reason these seeds should never be sprouted then offered to your gerbils. When it is used as a seed supplement to any food mixes it is regarded as being very safe, extremely nutritious and a very beneficial addition to your gerbil's diet.
Higher protein and other favourable feed characteristics have helped promote pearl millet, and it's used by poultry farmers and other livestock producers. The feed value of proso millet for cattle and swine is generally considered to equal that of grain sorghum or milo and maize when less than 50% of the maize in the ration is replaced.
There are wide fluctuations in the total mineral and trace elements contained in pearl millet, the biggest factor determining this is the nature of the soil it is grown in. When fed to rats supplemented with calcium carbonate in the diet they continued to grow well after seven weeks of feeding, while those fed just pearl millet ceased to grow after four weeks.
From the study it was concluded that calcium was more limiting than lysine or other nutrients in pearl millet when fed to growing rats.

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