I've recently been investigating fodder systems from various companies. Just today I got an email from farm-tek with their new system. There is also a lot of info on youtube and it sounds pretty neat. The complete packages are really expensive, like around $4000...but it would be so nice to be somewhat immune to hay prices, drought, lack of hay, etc. for all the animals here. Being able to produce fodder in a small area right on site would be wonderful too. I've got a batch of grains going and can see potential problems already with mold, but I'm just using a large feed dish without holes drilled....not the trays that are recommended.
Before I'd even build a small one for myself, (forget about the commercial ones), I'm trying to figure out how many pounds of seed, like barley for instance, it would take to get a certain amount of fodder, and can other seeds besides barley and wheat be used, such as alfalfa and clover? Has anyone found a site with more extensive information than just the basics available on the system-selling sites. And knowing the feed values would be good too.
One site showed the barley grass growing in the dark...but some systems have lights built in. Would a regular greenhouse work, or would it need to be more protected from winter weather?
The ones I looked at were sprouted rye grass - you just let the sprouts mature a little more than you would sprouts you put on salad. You moved trays in and out like an assembly line so the animals are always getting fresh greens. I was going to try it small scale in a bucket but never got organized. I would think up here I'd have to have heat to keep it going in the winter. I would think you'd want some hay too, cause sprouts are so rich....
What about sprouting in rubber feed tubs and just setting the tub out for the animals to eat down, then sprouting right in the tub again? That would be easy to do. I think you are embarking on new territory Anita. I've heard people ponder it, but I haven't heard of anyone actually doing it.
It's not sprouts really, it's grass that grows to about 5 or 6 inches high in a week. The reason I ever even considered it is because of all the spilled barley around here. Once it rains, the stuff grows green all over the place super fast! Juiced barley and wheat grass is highly recommended for humans for it's nutrient density, so I can see it adding some value to the milk or meat of animals fed it.
From my experience, the rubber tubs don't work except for soaking and sprouting as the seeds mold in them. The grains have to be rinsed and have a way to drain. I've got a couple ideas for a really small-scale set up here, basically just to try it. I'm not sure my goats would eat the grain/root part. I'm sure they would love the grass, but you offer them the whole thing, grass, root system, and seed.
Since most of the commonly used seeds are winter-type crops I'm thinking they would do fine in the winter as long as the temps were above freezing. One site recommended temps below 70 and kept the fodder system in a climate controlled shed.
This is something I've been looking also. We generally have an abundance of wheat. I would love to use wheat since we can grow it ourselves, but have read the dangers of bloat with feeding it as a grain, and am leary to add it to their grain ration. This seems like it might be a better alternative since the seed is sprouted, plus they get the "grass" part also. Please let me know if you find some more info on it!
Sables and Boer/Dairy crosses
My goats love roots, if they can get to them. We have a hillside that is eroding some and there were sagebrush roots sticking out, which they really enjoyed. I don't know if that would cross over to the seeds, but maybe. Last winter, I was feeding some sprouts, and they definitely ate the roots from that. I bet they would from a grass, too.
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I thought of you today Anita. I had the great joy of delivering goats today and wound up at a farm that uses a homegrown fodder system.
He simply uses 3.5 gallon buckets and fills them up 1/4th of the way up with wheat, oats, milo (he is in north Texas) black oil sunflower seeds and barley (he orders his from Azure Standard since they are organic). He is to far to get organic grains from central Texas which would make this much cheaper for him. He gets his oats and wheat at his local feed store. The longer he has done this the more and more whole oats and barley he adds to the mix, after talking with me today he is going to ditch the BOSS, it is not increasing his fat at all in the limited amounts he is feeding.
After soaking for 12 hours (he does rinse his grain really well before he starts and he also adds rock salt to the soaking water (worrying about mold). He then dumps this into, 3.5 gallon buckets with holes (about straw size) in the bottom and sides of the bucket. As he does chores twice a day he runs water through the buckets and dumps them from one bucket to a clean bucket (this keeps air in all the grain and it also separates the mats. He puts one pound into each bucket because it how much he feeds to his 8 milkers. Although the soaking bucket needs to have a lid on it, these sprouting buckets did not have lids and were not in the dark.
So 24 hours soaking, 24 hours sprouting, then he dumps them into steam table plastic trays from Sams, we use them for sausage making. Once again with holes in the bottom of them. He soaks them twice a day at chores, and feeds them on day 7. So the seeds he is soaking today will be fed in 7 days. These sit in cafeteria trays that not just catch the water to keep it from dripping but keeps water for the roots to find if they are drying out between soakings.
He isn't going to do an automatic watering system because he has to milk twice a day, he only feeds the sprouted grains to milkers twice a day, so he won't have to do the sprouts if they aren't in milk...kind of logical
The milkers get only alfalfa pellets on the milkstand and he feeds 1 tray (about 1 pound of sprouted grain) in the morning and 1 bucket in the evening worth of the sprouts to all 8 goats. So that is 2 pounds of grain for everyone in two feedings. His feeders are like mine in fact he saw mine from facebook.
He doesn't put minerals in the sprouts he feeds a loose mineral instead. He does feed grass hay in the winter like I do and his goats do have some browse although he is much more heat stressed than me here, more like what I looked like last year.
He does all of the soaking and sprouting in his laundry room, he has all the sprouting trays on a table on his deck near the waterhose.
His does are beautiful, very well fed, very good flesh and being there at chores, very good milkers, they are LaManchas.
You have to control airflow, lack of air causes mold. He has had a fan running on his sprouts most of the summer. He has no problems with sprouting since he does it in the house, with the winter, but you are so much colder, all he does is put black plastic over his trays if he is going to get a frost and we have a whole handful of freezes.
He likes using the steam table trays, although he calls them chubs, because he can easily lift them and take them out to feed, letting most of the water drip out before he breaks it up and feeds it.
The guy he learned this from uses a mixer and mixes hay into his sprout mats, and feeds it like this.
In the feeder it looked like long grass that was dug up and thrown in the feeders, but looking closely it is all filled with grain at the bottom in the mat. While we stood there, they devoured what he put out, nothing left.
I was so impressed with this! Especially because there was little expense in the setup, and if you hate doing it, use it for starting plants for your garden or greenhouse V
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