Grains are a staple feed at livestock farms. For farmers searching for solutions to address feed instability, fodder offers “forever grass” – fresh, green, nutrient-packed sprouted grains that are produced fresh every day, regardless of the weather or season.
What is Fodder?
The word “fodder” refers to feed given to domesticated livestock, such as cattle, horses, camels, rabbits, sheep, chickens and pigs. This feeding process contrasts animals grazing and foraging for food themselves.
In a fodder system, a grain like barley or wheat is sprouted in trays, grown for approximately seven days, and then fed to livestock. The animals consume everything, including the sprouts, seeds, and roots.
These are some of the most common plants grown for fodder:
- Barley (most common)
- Grass and Meadow Grasses
- Corn (maize)
Because of its high nutritional value, availability, and high seed weight to fodder production ratio, barley seed is often the grain of choice for fodder production. Generally speaking, one pound of barley grain produces six pounds of fodder in approximately one week.
Benefits of Growing Fodder
Fodder is formulated to meet specific nutrition requirements for livestock at different life stages, and is composed of entire plants – including the leaves, stalks, and grain, of such forages as alfalfa, barley, wheat, and sorghum.
Growing fodder allows farmers to recreate lush, nutrient-dense grass that promotes healthier livestock through increased digestibility, quicker weight gains, and greater resistance to illness and disease. Fodder, such as barley, is highly palatable, very digestible, and significantly increases the overall nutritional value of the livestock’s feed. Further analysis of fodder highlights its high sugars, high neutral detergent fibre, and net energy comparable to the original grain used.
Benefits to Dairy Cattle
Many traditional farmers depend entirely on paddy straw to feed their dairy cattle. This affects both milk yield and the health of the animal. Consuming fresh fodder can provide several benefits to dairy cows, including:
- Improved milk yield and quality
- Fodder is digested more easily in the rumen, being over 80D, enabling the digestive system to conserve energy during digestion. Saved energy maintains condition and promotes fertility.
Benefits to Beef Cattle
When properly processed, mixed, and fed, fodder is an excellent feed for beef cattle. Because it is processed more efficiently in the cow’s digestive system than grain is, fodder can be used in growing and finishing diets for cattle. This approach provides many benefits, including:
- Improved weight gain
- Improved coat shine and body condition
- Lower cost of feeding
- Improvement in overall herd health
- Increase in Income Over Feed Costs (IOFC)
- Better quality meat
Benefits to Goats
Because fodder closely replicates what goats would naturally forage for in the wild, it compliments the goat’s well-developed digestive system. As such, consuming fresh fodder can provide several benefits to goats, including:
- Faster weight gain and better quality meat
- High-grade fibre
- Improved milk production and quality
- Improved hoof health
- Improved fertility
Benefits to Poultry
Sprouted fodder is considered a complete ration for poultry and contains all of the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for optimal meat and egg production. Incorporating fodder into poultry diets can result in the following benefits:
- Better quality eggs with deeper yolk color
- Enhanced egg taste
- Natural diet
- Reduced sticky droppings
- Higher quality meat with better texture
- Improved health and energy levels
Benefits to Pigs / Swine
The volumes of fresh, green sprouts that fodder provides, gives pigs and swine nutritional advantages to promote good health and optimal performance. Consuming fresh fodder can provide several benefits to pigs and swine, including:
- Accelerated growth rates and weight gain
- Sows came into heat much quicker
- Heavier, longer milking period, enabling piglets early growth rates
- Feeding costs reduced
Benefits to the Environment
In addition to the health and nutritional benefits to livestock, hydroponically-grown fodder uses less water and less land resources than traditional grazing and forage.
Did you know? A 320 square-foot fodder system can produce two thousand pounds of fodder and replace up to 50 acres of farmland. This is an ideal solution for farms with limited acreage and regions subject to drought conditions.
Consistent Quality, Supply, Performance
Not only can grains and grasses grown in different pastures and regions have entirely different nutritional content, when, where, and how they are harvested also affects the outcome of the feed. Farmers can depend on the consistent supply and quality that fodder provides.
When introducing fodder to their livestock’s diet, operators can expect healthier animals, with increased energy levels and fertility rates, glossier coats in horses, cleaner eggs in laying hens, and higher milk yields in goats, camels, and dairy cattle.
We have established partnerships with the industry leaders who are introducing advanced AgTech to improve fodder production across the globe. Select the ‘Get Started’ button below to learn how to produce tons of fodder every day with only a fraction of the farmland and water used in traditional crop production.