Fodder or animal feed is any feedstock used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. "Fodder" refers particularly to food given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them), rather than that which they forage for themselves in pasture and grazing land. It includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and also sprouted grains and legumes. The fodder system we are focusing on here today is a hydroponically grown, quick turn over, and cost effective system.
With many regions of the world experiencing record droughts and peak water becoming more of a concern for many businesses and individuals who own and raise livestock, seeking options and solutions to maintain the health and growth of their animals can be a challenge. Sprouting fodder on site can be a dependable and low cost source of feed and nutritional supplementation, creating a local, on demand feed source that can build great resiliency and independence for homesteaders and those in agricultural industries.
The technique is not new and has been used and investigated for many years but has started to see a resurgence in use throughout the world as water and growing issues become more prevalent. As a response to extreme droughts, a number of commercial companies (many in Australia) have been developed. These companies offer large scale systems that are able to produce many tons of fodder feed per day and offer new options for ranchers and livestock producers.
Not only do fodder systems use less water than field grown hay, they also offer many other advantages, including higher productivity through increased nutritional value. In this article, we will explore the benefits and challenges of small to medium scale hydroponic fodder growing to produce localized feedstock.
The Basics of Sprouting Fodder like sprouting grains for human consumption (wheatgrass, beans, alfalfa, etc.), growing fodder as sprouted grains is relatively easy and has a rapid turnover from start to finished product. The typical sprouting time for fodder is 6 - 8 days and can be adjusted depending on what stage of growth you want to harvest at and the type of animal your are feeding. Many different grains can be used - wheatgrass, barley, oats, etc. Barley is the most popular. The basic method of growing fodder is as follows:
The fodder will grow from a dry seed to a 6 -7 inch plant in a little as 6 days. With multiple trays being rotated on a daily basis, once can grow a continuous supply of fresh feed with very little space, power, and water requirements. And the great part is that it is digestible by a great number of animals, from chickens and rabbits, to goat, horses, and heifer's, cows, this living food can compliment the diets most farm animals.
Benefits of Sprouted Fodder:
There are many benefits to be found from using fresh barley grass and spouted grains that has been organically and hydroponically grown. When barley is sprouted, it releases many vitamins and minerals as well as converting hard to digest starches in easily digestible proteins. Some of the benefits include:
• Water use reduction and conservation compared to field irrigation
• Reduction in overall daily feed costs.
• Significant reduction if feed waste - the entire root mass is consumed with the grass
• Increased nutritional value in the feed
• High yield in a very small area
• Increase your independence by growing food for your animals with no need for cultivated land
• High digestibility
• Vitamins & mineral saturation
• Phytate reduction for pH normalization
• Enzymatic activity increase
• Increases in Omega 3, amino acids, natural hormones
• Hedge the increase in feed costs by pre-buying large quantities of grain to have on hand
• On-demand availability of fresh green feed 365 days a year - all season access.
• Fodder Nutritional Analysis
Barley Analysis Performed Unit Result
Protein % 35.50
Ether Extract % 3.40
Moisture % 88.00
Ash % 3.60
Crude Fibre % 15.20
Acid Detergent Fibre % 19.00
Nitrogen Free Extract % 61.30
Metabolisable Energy MJ/Kg 11.40
Vitamin B1 mg/100g 0.20
Vitamin B1 mg/100g 0.10
Vitamin B1 mg/100g 4.00
Vitamin B1 mg/100g 0.20
Calcium mg/100g 150
Copper mg/100g 1.30
Iron mg/100g 7.20
Potassium mg/100g 180.00
Magnesium mg/100g 150.00
Manganese mg/100g 2.30
Sodium mg/100g 36.00
Phosphorous mg/100g 150.00
Zinc mg/100g 4.60
By introducing barley grass (hydroponics) into your feeding regime, the cows are automatically hydrated as the root mass and shoots are packed full of water and nutrients. The shoots are very easily digested and therefore give the animal a much higher percentage of digestible energy. The much improved digestion reduces the incidence of colic, and aids the process of digesting hay, which may be fed alongside the fresh fodder. A recommended mix of barley fodder with a reduced amount of hay gives a good balance of forage for extended periods.
There are many important ways to reduce the onset of colic in cows. A few important ones are as follows: 1.A regular feeding schedule with 2/3 small feeds each day. 2.Access to clean water. 3.Provide at least 60% of digestible energy from forage provide good forage for as much of the day as possible.
All natural foods (including grasses) contain sugars which are necessary for humans and animals for energy and the digestive process. Feed that has added sugar (eg molasses, sugar beet) is commonly used but the cow’s system is not designed to cope with it and can use up the valuable energy they are supposed to provide so they should be avoided. Barley shoots have natural sugars in the correct quantities to provide cows with the necessary energy for healthy living.
Interestingly, the juice from barley shoots is given to diabetics to LOWER and control the blood sugar levels.
DONT FEED YOUR ANIMAL WITH MORE THAN 6% OF PURE GRAINS IN ITS DIET MIX, IT WILL CREATE GAS BUILT UP IN THE STOMACH AND CAN KILL THE ANIMAL:(courtesy one of forum member).
And here the question/efforts is not making you to accept the hydroponics. It is clarify you about the same. However, the suitability of the hydroponics is highly individual choice based on the type of farm, place and structure/position of the farm etc.,
Secondly, regarding suggestion on bull usage for re-production concern is not just replace by the new born males, for commercially operating dairy farms shall concentrate on future healthy, performance cows. Which can possible only with progeny tested bulls Siemens. If still you are not clear, you can take advice or clarification about the same from your surrounding any experienced vet.
Finally, I was trying to present you to evaluate the total content of the hydroponics as well as conventional fodder in conversion of value in a way ....such that......1kg cotton or 1 kg steel....which one weigh more...!!!
Don’t worry, it will not hurt or messy till everyone’s interest is to find solutions to starving farmer’s everlasting problems in our country.