Millet is thought to have originated in North Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, where it has been consumed since prehistoric times. There is even mention of millet in the Bible as an ingredient for unleavened bread. Millet is still an extremely important food staple in many Africa countries. Since ancient times, millet has been widely consumed in Asia and India as well. The Indian flatbread roti is made from ground millet seeds. In the Middle Ages, before potatoes and corn were introduced, millet became a staple grain in Europe, especially in countries in Eastern Europe. The Setaria variety of millet was introduced into the United States in the 19th century. While millet has been used primarily for birdseed and livestock fodder in Western Europe and North America, it is now gaining popularity as a delicious and nutritious grain that can be enjoyed for both its unique virtues as well as the fact that it is a gluten-free grain alternative to wheat. The majority of the world’s commercial millet crop is produced by India, China and Nigeria.

  • India
  • Nigeria
  • China
  • Niger
  • Mali
  • Burkina Faso
  • Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Chad
  • Senegal

Production of millet in India

  • Rajasthan
  • Maharashtra
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Punjab
  • Andhra Pradesh

The major uses of millet are as a component of grain mixes for parakeets, canaries, finches, lovebirds, cockatiels and wild birds and as feed for cattle, sheep, hogs and poultry. Millet for birdfeed purposes is often grown under contract. Proso millet as livestock feed is similar to oats and barley in feeding value. It is commonly fed in ground form to cattle, sheep, and hogs. Proso also has considerably higher fiber levels, due to attached hulls. Proso performs best in livestock rations when fed in mixtures with other grains. If the amino acid levels are balanced, the feeding value to hogs is nearly equal to corn. Proso can be cut for hay, but it is not as suitable as foxtail for this purpose. Foxtail millet is usually grown for hay or silage often as a short-season emergency hay crop. Some seed is used for finch and wild bird feeds. It does not necessarily yield more forage than proso but is free of foliage hairs and is finer stemmed. For forage, foxtail millet is harvested at the late boot to late bloom stage. Foxtail millet should not be fed to horses as the only source of roughage since it acts as a laxative. If foxtail millet has been severely stressed it may accumulate nitrate at levels toxic for livestock.
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