Posted By in AgriProFocus Netherlands
Posted 6 January 2019 at 06:51

There are a lot of question about the use  off  the foddersystem  in Africa. A lot of people are reading my site about the fodder. (www.hydroponics-nederland.nl/hydroponic-fodder) Therefore this article.

7 Reasons Why Hydroponic Fodder is a “Viable” Option for Feeding Livestock

7 Reasons Why Hydroponic Fodder is a Viable Option for Feeding Livestock

On the surface, the concept of producing hydroponic fodder in a hydroponic system is quite appealing to farmers because 1kg of grain provides 6 to 10kgs of hydroponic fodder in 6 to 10 days. However, when you scratch below the surface, you realize that hydroponic fodder is not quite a viable option for feeding your cattle and especially sheep, cows, and goats.

What is Hydroponic Fodder?

Fodder is food given to livestock. Thus, hydroponic fodder is the livestock food produced using hydroponics. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil in a hydroponic system.

  1. The statistics published by Maryland Small Ruminant Page, show that barley sprouts produced hydroponically contain 12% DM as compared to soil-grown Orchard grass hay (88% DM) and Alfalfa hay (89% DM). In other words, the hydroponic fodder is 88% water.

Why does the hydroponic fodder contain less DM content? The seeds used to prepare the hydroponic fodder lose between 7% to 47% DM during soaking and germination.

How do the seeds lose their DM content?

They lose DM during soaking and the subsequent sprouting processes because of the leaching of materials and oxidation of substances from the seed. During soaking, seeds lose their solutes. They lose most of the solutes during the water uptake stage which stops after 24 hours. Perhaps, this is the reason farmers are advised to soak their seed for a similar period. Several studies, for example, Flynn et al. (1986), have found that barley, among other seeds, lose 24% in DM in an eight-day production cycle.

  1. The solutes that the seeds lose during the soaking stage contain amino acids, organic acids, proteins, sugars, and inorganic ions. There is no sufficient time to regain these nutrients because of the short production cycle.

Therefore, hydroponic fodder contains not only less DM but also few nutrients.

  1. Perhaps, the mold is the biggest problem facing farmers who grow hydroponic fodder. Monitoring the humidity in a greenhouse environment is tough. Humidity promotes fast growth of mold. Moldy hydroponic fodder reduces the overall animal performance and can result in animal death. Easy (and perhaps not effective) ways of controlling mold

The farmers should sterilize the seeds using a sterilizing agent, for example, hydrogen peroxide. Also, they should ensure proper hygiene in the hydroponic system. Also, they must clean the grow trays thoroughly using a chlorine-based solution before and after using them. Effective way of controlling mold

The farmers should install and use manual or automatic fans to regulate the humidity. These equipment increase the investment and energy costs.

  1. It requires a high initial capital investment

Perhaps, the biggest challenge that farmers face is the high initial capital investment. They must acquire hydroponic fodder units, seeds, and construct a greenhouse. Also, they must have access to considerable energy to grow the hydroponic fodder successfully. The access to the main grid electricity, especially in most African countries, is limited. Thus, such farmers would have to install solar energy which is again expensive to acquire. Perhaps, this is why governments and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) subsidize the installation of hydroponic fodder units.

  1. It is expensive to run and maintain hydroponic fodder production

The hydroponic fodder production requires sufficient skilled labor which is expensive to hire. Labor is required to soak the seeds, transfer them to the grow trays, place the grow trays onto the shelves, monitor the fodder’s daily growth, remove the ready fodder from the grow trays, clean and sterilize the trays, and take the fodder to the livestock. Farmers can automate some of these processes but at a high investment cost. Nowedays you can controle it completely with a App. (asked us for the company)

Also, it is expensive to buy seeds, for example, barley, wheat or oats.

  1. They hydroponic system for producing fodder is subject to depreciation

Depreciation reduces the value of the hydroponic fodder units. It is expensive to replace or buy new units from time to time.

  1. Livestock cannot be fed hydroponic fodder alone

Livestock cannot be fed hydroponic fodder alone because of its low DM content. They still require hay and other dry forage. Perhaps, this is the reason why farmers question the need to produce expensive hydroponic fodder instead of buying other affordable supplements in the market, and growing livestock fodder on private or leased land.

Where May Hydroponic Fodder Fit? More information on my site

Gidi Smolders 1 kg of grain provides 6 - 10 kg of hydroponic feed. Or 950 gram of dry matter (in 1 kg of grain) provides 900 gram dry matter and 5 - 9 kg of water (in 6 - 10 kg of hydroponic feed). So (at least) 50 grams of dry matter lost, besides the costs to produce the hydroponic feed. How is compensated for that?

6 days 2 hours ago

Ed van der Post The cheaper your system the less costs. That my advice in this article. You can buy one for €30.000 euro or you built one for 2000,-And not every seed wil germinate. So what do you want  to compensate?

6 days 1 hour ago

Gidi Smolders For the loss of feeding-value. Hydroponic systems make from 1 kg of grain with 950 gram of dry matter on average 8 kg of feed with in total maximum 900 grams of dry matter. So from every kg dry matter input you get only 900 grams dry matter output in 8 kg hydroponic feed. Or in other words:  instead of feeding 1 kg of grain with 50 grams of water you feed 8 kg hydroponic feed with 7100 grams of water.  

5 days 23 hours ago

Ed van der Post I dont now where you get your data, but I have other numbers:Simple math with 50# bagsSay a bag of pig and sow costs you $20 for 50 pounds at the local TSC. That works out to $0.40 cents per pound. Not horrible. Unless you are buying 30 bags every two weeks! That quickly becomes $600 every two weeks and only gives me 1500 pounds of feed.Now lets look at a bag of seed for the purposes of sprouting. I buy a 50 pound bag of organic (no less) seed for $30 per bag. Wow that already sounds expensive. But using simple math and knowing that I can always get at least 5 pounds of fodder out of every 1 pound of seed (we will learn how to get a 10:1 conversion in later chapters) I know that the 50 pounds of seed becomes 250 pounds of feed. That is $0.12 cents per pound! Working backwards to see how many bags of seed I need to generate the same 1500 pounds of feed in the end: 6 bags of organic seed. Cost? $180 My pigs can eat all they want at that rate.So let’s talk in terms of bulk. Go buy 2,000 lbs of all organic seed at 37¢/lb (or $18.50 per 50lbs) and you are down to 7.4¢/lb! 7.4¢ for organic, non-gmo, no animal byproducts, feed me as much as I want fodder! The higher your yield the lower your cost.

5 days 11 hours ago