Abigail’s Fodder for Thought: Turn it Green
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, everyone is searching for the leprechaun to lead them to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Well put your leprechaun trackers away folks because now you can get the gold by going green!
Enter fodder, center stage. The majority of domesticated livestock are grazers or browsers by nature. This means their bodies are designed to utilize green feed. While they have acclimated to dried hay, grains and rations alternately focused on dry matter (DM), these are not the most easily digested materials for our animals. This can mean a lot of wasted feed since much of it is not processed efficiently.
Just like changing the oil in your truck to maximize fuel efficiency, you can fine tune an animal’s digestive track by providing a more digestible feed. “Brown rations” (hay, grain, etc.) are typically about 30% digestible to livestock. Provide them a green, living feed and that increases to 75 to 80%. Now, not only are you feeding less but the animal is using more.
With substantially increased digestibility, a yield of 1:7 (one pound of seed produces just over seven pounds of sprouted fodder) and a quick seven-day grow cycle, it is easy to see why some farmers are skeptical when comparing fodder to more traditional feeding regimens. How can fodder work, especially with such a low DM/high moisture content? The reason is energy.
By simply sprouting the seeds you are taking the natural starches and transforming them, through the seven-day growing process, into more readily available sugars. Of course, both starches and sugars provide energy to animals but the sugars are more easily absorbed and utilized. This allows animals to get their net energy for maintenance (NEm) almost immediately, so everything else they consume goes to help them do their job, like produce milk or develop a healthy coat.
While there is a tremendous cost advantage in reduced feed costs, more and more customers are astounded with the increased price and profit they are able to get for their end product. Here’s your pot of gold. By controlling the feed provided to your animals you have ultimate control over your end product. No longer at the mercy of weather patterns and cropland, you are able to consistently produce and market top-quality products. As with high tunnels that allow for produce to be brought to farmer’s markets earlier, fodder will allow you to offer an all-natural, grass-fed or organic product year round, regardless of micro-climate or geographic location. Fodder is truly the latest competitive advantage in farming.
For more on the benefits of providing fodder feel free to check out our informational website FodderSystems.com.
* Organic certification and regulations come from the federal government and are under the jurisdiction of the National Organic Program. From a feeding standpoint, as long as the seed is organic the animals can be certified organic as well. For more information on organics and the National Organic Program, view the information provided by the Agricultural Marketing Service on the USDA’s website.