Hydroponics technology (growing of plants in inert media without soil) has revolutionized conventional farming and many farmers today are using it as an alternative mean to get more output with less resources. Although the hydroponics concept is popularly practiced in order to grow vegies, fruits, and flowers, there is a rising trend of growing animal feedstock via hydroponics technology popularly known as hydroponics fodder.
As we all know, the climate change in many parts of the world have contributed to the high price of livestock food, concentrates, grains, and hay. Hydroponics fodder has provided a cheaper alternative where farmers can grow healthy and nutritious sprouts within 7 days and feed their livestock.
Hydroponics fodder is made from sprouting crops such as barley. Clover, cow peas, oats, sorghum, and corns. This type of feed-stuff has immense benefits to the animals as they contain high nutrition value. The sprouting process is vital in hydroponics fodder as it increases fiber and breaks the grain down into more palatable components. In addition, hydroponics fodder is grown naturally free from pesticides or herbicides thus making it a high quality livestock foodstuff.
How to make hydroponics fodder
The fodder is grown in a rack of 12’ long with growing channels stacked at six levels where each level contains up to four channels thus, creating a total of 24 channels in each rack. Once the rack is ready, seeds are sorted to ensure only the healthy ones are used. Broken seeds do not germinate and this well cause rotting which is very harmful.
Barley seeds are the popularly used seeds due to their high conversion potential (1 pound of barley seeds can produce up to 7 pounds of fodder). To ensure faster germination, ensure that you have soaked the seeds overnight. During the 7-8 days, the fodder requires minimal light because the energy to sprout is in the seed itself.
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Every channel/tray can accommodate about 10 pounds of barley. After soaking the seeds overnight, spread them evenly on each channel to create a thickness of about ½’ if possible. The next step is to water the seeds every day about 4-6 times.
After 7-8 days, the “magic” will have occurred and you will have your foliage mat ready. You can then remove the foliage mat from the trays and feed them directly to your livestock (cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and others).
Watch the video below for a step-to-step guide;
Once you have removed the foliage mat, clean the trays thoroughly and you can plant your next batch immediately. The fodder should be harvested within 8 days because it can turn yellow or grow harmful fungi or bacteria which can harm your livestock if left to last for more days without being harvested.
Advantages of hydroponics fodder
- The foliage is of high quality as it does not contain any fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides
- The system uses less water and with faster maturity therefore, suitable for dry areas
- Hydroponics fodder contains superior nutrition and hydration compared to other foodstuffs
- It leads to stimulated appetite which increases productivity
- Farmers incur less labor expenses thus maximizing profits
- You can generate high yield in a small area even if you don’t have big land
- Reduced wastage as animals feed on everything coupled with increased digestibility of fodder
- It can be used as a method to achieve sustainable livestock feed supply throughout the year
Disadvantages of hydroponics fodder
- High initial cost is incurred while installing the system
- It cannot be stored for a longer time
- A controlled humid and moist environment must be maintained all the time. Failure to do so can cause mold, fungi, and bacteria to develop.
Growing fodder via hydroponics is a very reliable means of getting sufficient feeds stock to your livestock and every farmer should embrace this amazing technology and enjoy full year livestock fodder supply.