How to Plant Millet Seed


Often viewed as a weed, millet is an essential grain. It is fed as seed to captive and wild birds. Millet seed can be fed whole to poultry, while ground millet is used as a feed supplement for cattle. The stalks are used as hay or they can be cut and added to silage. Millet is a good source of magnesium, providing 24% of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance. The Alternative Field Crops Manual states that the various millet varieties grow best on loamy soils and do not tolerate extreme drought.

Step 1

Cut and store any cover crop before working the area to be planted. Pull and mulch any weeds, adding them to your compost pile. Chop the soil with a toothed rake to provide aeration.

Step 2

Broadcast millet by hand if the area to be planted is less than a quarter of an acre. Use a grain drill for larger areas. The Alternative Field Crops Manual recommends sowing one inch deep, "...20 lb/acre, or 25 seeds/ft...for proso millet. Foxtail 2 millet should be sown at a rate of 15 lb/acre, or 75 seeds/ft."

Step 3

Cover areas where you broadcast the seed with loose-weave burlap or contractor's fabric. Cover the edges of the fabric with soil and place stones, branches or other natural objects every two feet to keep the fabric in place.

Step 4

Position one or more sprinklers to provide a gentle spray over the entire area just planted. Adjust water pressure to ensure that the sprinkler will not wash away your seed. Run sprinklers for one full minute.

Step 5

Drive stakes into the ground every six to eight feet throughout the seeded area. Tie aluminum pie pans to each stake using kitchen twine. This will help keep pests from eating the seed before it can sprout.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid feeding millet hay to horses because it can cause lameness and affect kidney function.

Things You'll Need

  • Toothed rake
  • Millet seed
  • Grain drill
  • Sprinkler with timer
  • Loose-weave burlap or contractors' fabric
  • Stones, branches and other natural objects
  • Wooden or metal stakes
  • Aluminum pie pans
  • Kitchen twine
  • Sharp knife or scissors


  • Nutrition Data: Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Millet
  • Purdue University Center for New Crop and Plant Products: Alternative Field Crops Manual: Millets
  • North Dakota State University Agriculture and University Extension: AS-1182 Alternative Feeds for Ruminants
Keywords: planting grains, cereal crops, self-reliance, seed crops, animal fodder

About this Author

Jane Smith received her Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995. She provided educational supports for 11 years, served people with multiple challenges for 26 years, rescued animals for five years, designed and repaired household items for 31 years and is currently an apprentice metalworker. Her e-book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in March 2008.