Millets are annual grasses and are some of the oldest of cultivated crops. The term millet is applied to various grass crops whose seeds are harvested for food or for animal feed. In China, records of culture for foxtail and proso millet extend back to 2000 BC. Millets are rich in carbohydrate and low in fibre. Nutritionally they are very similar to each other and as such are substitutable in birdseed mixes.
- Foxtail millet (Setaria italica L.) probably originated in southern Asia and is the oldest of the cultivated millets. In Australia panicum and panorama is grown. It is also known as Italian, German or Hungarian Millet. Its culture slowly spread westward towards Europe and today is grown primarily in eastern Asia.
- Proso millet (Panicum milliaceum L.) is grown in the Soviet Union, China, India Western Europe and in the US. It is known here as White French Millet.
- Barnyard or Japanese millet (Echinochloa frumentaceae L.), is a domesticated relative of barnyard grass. It is grown for grain in Australia, Japan and other Asian countries. It is a dual purpose millet suited to grain or grazing. Often cattle farmers in Queensland will plant Japanese millet for grazing and after a couple of feeds will let it go to head and harvest it. Shirohie is a larger, white seeded selection of the varietyoften grown in Northern Victoria around the Murray River. We prefer to use Jap millet because we find the green/grey colour is more attractive in the mixes. Shirohie is coloured white/grey and makes the mix look monotone.