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Barley Fodder Sprouts Week 1

Updated on September 27, 2019
kevin.howell profile image

Kevin is a third generation livestock farmer with a passion for sustainable farm management, holistic practices, and multiple enterprises.

The Ideal

Mt wife claims I can be extremely obsessive when it comes to my big ideas; and I have lots of them. Recently I’ve done a lot of research into growing barley fodder in trays to feed livestock. I am blown away at the potential result. For those of you who dont know, fodder sprouts can be grown in trays and will sprout and grow between 6“-8” in 7 days. It can then be feed to livestock or chickens where they will eat seed, roots, sprouts, and all. A 50lb bag of barley will produce 300lb of feed for about $12.

Action

I spent the biggest part of the morning building a rack to hold 12 trays. Each tray will produce about 5lb of feed in 7 days. I used cafeteria trays to grow the fodder on and will water it twice a day and see what happens. The fodder can grow with ambient light, but I placed the rack outside attached to the barn with easy access to water. I soaked the seeds in a bleach/water mixture. After waiting about two hours, I rinsed the seeds and put them in a tub with just water; they will soak here for 12 hours and be placed in the trays on the rack.

Vision

Although I’m in the R and D stage of my journey; I do have a greater vision. It is my hope that I will be able to feed cattle year round in spite of droughts, winter, or long periods of rain. It won’t matter about weather, as I will produce this feed indoors in a greenhouse. I plan on building a 24’ x 60’ greenhouse shed on the side of our barn. With 8’ racks supporting 6 tiers. I will theoretically be able to harvest enough fodder daily to feed up to 180 500lb steers. The construction phase will include a cattle lot renovation. We are currently set up with small 5 acre paddocks that we use for rotational grazing. I’ll continue to rotate the cattle in the hopes of keeping the mud at bay. I’ll build concrete feed bunks in a couple of these paddocks to hold the fodder. On the far side of the barn we have a 40’x 60 of roof that I will use to collect water for use in the greenhouse as well as water for cattle in the feedlots. In the greenhouse I plan on plumbing overhead, cone sprayers. A circulating pump will supply water via one ball valve for irrigating my trays twice a day. I’ll wire up lights wherever the sun won’t shine. Access to the greenhouse will be gained at the drive through barn where we load the fodder for feeding. I plan on building this system complete with heating for about $30,000. Automated systems like this can run up to $300,000. My system will be more labor intensive with a smaller overhead and greater profit margin.

I’ll continue to update my progress periodically and hope to have a lot of exciting things to share.

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