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Year-Round Feed

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:09pm

Plummeting prices and skyrocketing input costs have beef producers thinking holistically when it comes to forage production to minimize costs. Yet, they have to be careful not to sacrifice herd health and performance.

Representatives from Fodder Solutions think they have found the answer to keeping your cattle healthy while you reduce feed costs with their new sprouting mat chambers.

"The system is a hydroponic growing room that has been specifically developed to sprout grain and legume seed for highly nutritious yet cost-effective livestock feed," says Terry Colless of Fodder Solutions.

Here's how it works. A selection of grains and legume seeds are spread onto the specialized growing trays and watered at predetermined intervals with overhead sprayers. To ensure the best growth and highest nutritional value fodder, a set temperature is maintained inside the chamber.

Every day you slide the feed out of the trays, rinse the tray, reseed, and push the newly seeded tray into the other end. Different size chambers are available to hold enough trays for the amount of feed needed. The sprouts grow on Fodder Solutions' specially designed sprouting trays.

Feed-quality barley germinates within 24 hours of seeding. The barley grows in the same tray for six days and is ready for harvest as a 15- to 20-centimeter (about 6- to 8-inch-) -high grass mat. The sprout mat is completely edible; animals will eat the entire mat, roots, and green growth. So there's no waste.

When you utilize a growing chamber, Colless says, it results in the following improvements to your feed:

  • Starch is converted into simple sugars called maltose and dextrins, which are easier to digest.
  • Proteins are converted into amino acids, which improve the quality, balance, and digestibility of the protein components of the sprouts.
  • Fats are converted to essential fatty acids.
  • Vitamins and minerals are made available.

A unit is being tested by California farmer Bill Van Ryns, who's feeding steer and dairy cattle. "I can't believe the feed I'm able to grow with this machine," says Van Ryns.

While the company's headquarters is in Queensland, systems are being manufactured at a facility in Oxnard, California, to fill orders in the U.S. Chambers are available in four sizes and range in price from $9,250 to $25,873. Learn more at www.foddersolutions.org.

Plummeting prices and skyrocketing input costs have beef producers thinking holistically when it comes to forage production to minimize costs. Yet, they have to be careful not to sacrifice herd health and performance.

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