Archive for January, 2013

January 29, 2013

New home for the Fodder

I moved the shelving units down to the basement.

For reference, there is a sump pit just to the right of the blue pressure tank. The white piece of PVC (lower left) leads to it. That’s the drain for our A/C unit (which is outside of the house) and in the summer – when in use- the condensation drains into the pit where a pump pumps it up and out to the septic, it works like a toilet tank valve. Our fodder water drains to it via a gutter along the ground (not photo’ed).

fodder shelving in basement

The shelving unit on the right in the photo has not been completely put together when this photo was taken and as you’ll notice, we have the black fodder trays in use next to the plastic tubs. They were flimsy and were replaced with clear plastic tubs.


The blue thing is our pressure/reserve well tank. Jeremiah popped a valve and sprayer on that and I’ve got water. Just with the overhead light and a 60W bulb and an (ugly) extra lamp we had laying around are the artificial light sources.

January 28, 2013

Fodder Folly

Fabulous root growth!

Fabulous root growth! The animals eat everything- root, grass and all.


I cut the mat into “biscuits” with a serrated bread knife. 

Cutting fodder (root side up)

 This is a perfect example of what happens when you disturb the rooting barley grains after about day 4 (I spayed this tub too hard with the nozzle).

Fodder "biscuits". I find I need to cut them up into mouthful size bites ahead of time otherwise they waste alot trying to "tear" them apart by flinging them around. I do this work ahead of time to save fodder from being dumped in the dirt and left to rot.

Fodder “biscuits”. I find I need to cut or tear them up into mouthful size bites for the goats ahead of time otherwise they waste a lot trying to “tear” them apart by flinging them around. I do this work ahead of time to save fodder from being dumped in the dirt for the chickens.

Mags loves her fodder

Mags loves her fodder

Ada LOVES her fodder!

Ada loves her fodder.

Mea loves her fodder!

Mea loves her fodder!

I have to stand where the does can't get to me otherwise I am attacked!!!

I have to stand where the does can’t get to me otherwise I am attacked!!!

January 27, 2013

Dawn’s kidding (graphic)

Dawn (a first freshening 2 year old) was uddered up quite well on Saturday night but I felt confident she’s wait until Sunday so I did not bother doing a barn check late Saturday night. She still had some ligaments left and had not hollowed out. Though, this is NEVER sure fire, I read all the signs and make a decision from there. Generally I am right, though a few have slipped past–Mea and FD who quietly had two dry kids on the ground before my rounds.

By Sunday morning she was not eager to join the herd for breakfast and obviously that was a good sign something was up. Her udder was “tight and shiny” and she had hollowed out, so in to the kidding pen she went. I did the rest of my chores and went up to the house to do dishes and that sort of thing, meandered down about 11 and she already had a kid out and was working on drying her off. A brown doe kid WITH spots and a lovely Nubian head and ears…how fabulous. I walked up the house to grab some towels and heating pad and to let Rachel know her doe (who she’d raised on a bottle) was finally kidding!

It had not warmed up too much but the sun was out and a simple heating pad under a towel works really well to keep the chill off the babies for those chilly kiddings. Dawn did a wonderful job, only a small tear to her vulva and everything was textbook. Love those!

I’ll include a couple photos I was able to snap. This is a classic presentation of a kid. Head flat against the forelegs. One leg slightly ahead of another…and the tongue sticking out, that’s common too =).

Dawn's first kids

dawn's first kids 1

dawn's first kids 2

dawn's first kids 3

The black kid has very long legs, white topknot, frosted ears and a few white spots here and there with a right white side splash. So far the count is 2 does and 2 bucks.

Iris’ bouncy buck kid went to his new home yesterday with a lovely family near Winfield, Ks. He’s going to be their up and coming jr. herdsire.

Now we have about a month long lull before several others are ready at the end of February. I can only hope we’ll get the same lovely temperatures for both of these kiddings!

January 23, 2013

Newsy news

Where to begin? Knowing where I left off would be helpful. I think it had something to do with fodder (imagine that) and then it seemed everything went to hell and a handbasket and I’ve had little time to update my Facebook page ( let alone the blog!

A brief summary of life here the past couple weeks. One Sunday (2 weeks ago??), Iris started showing symptoms of pregnancy toxemia and went down hill real quick. Injections of CMPK seemed to do little good and with several injection sites required for each treatment, I felt so bad for her I put her on oral CMPK.

Delivery of the kids is the best treatment for this but because Dawn had still not kidded, I thought for sure I had messed up January breeding dates altogether. As it turns out, Dawn was not bred before Iris at all but another dry coming 2 year old who was sold last Fall. I did not figure that out until the doe’s owners emailed me to say that the doe had delievered a healthy buck and doe…a day after “Dawn’s due date”. OH, WHOOPS!!! I could have induced Iris to kid 5 days prior to her due date, but with due dates up in the air from my mishap with the breeding dates of does, I did not want to risk loosing the whole bunch to prematurity! So, I induced her on her due date and she delivered a healthy set of twins (1 buck & 1 doe) on Jan. 16. A lovely day it was too.

Meanwhile, I was still drenching her with CMPK (for a while there every 2 hours round the clock!), injecitons of B-complex to try and help stimulate her appitite, Nutradrench and immune supporting herbs, etc.

Fast forward to a week later and the kids are bouncing bundles of fluff. Iris is still with us, though she is pathetically thin and still does not seem to want to eat very much. She came down with a horrid snotty nose so I am now giving her LA-200 every evening and double blanketing her. She picks at her food but going on 2 weeks now, she’s obviously eating enough to keep her alive and drinking rather well. She is locked up at night alone with her kids with enough hay of every kind of I have to feed a threshing crew but she’s not real eager to get to it as any of it like other does would be. So, we are just taking it day by day and hoping she regains her will to eat. I know she’s got it. I am supplimenting her kids with a bottle. A lot of people have mentioned taking the kids away so they are not “draining her”. I know Iris and if I were to do that, she’d give up her will. So, she keeps her kids and they have lots of forms of Mom that come out to feed them several times a day and this seems to work. I’ve told Iris she just has to decide what she wants to do…I have stopped with the CMPK and so we’ll just see what happens…if 2 summers ago is any indication (when she just adamately flat out refused to eat much of anything for 2-3 months), she’ll just up and decide one day to eat again and that will be that. She’s a strange one that one…but strong despite it all and bull headed…fine! Me too.

I would post photos of the new kids but if you can imagine this…both of our home computers are on the fritz. The main computer is barely limping along and will have to be replaced but I am least thankful to have it sort of working though I cannot have any more than one tab for the internet, nor any other programs open at any one given time, it will crash. So, posting photos will have wait. My laptops charger cord is fried and so I am waiting on a new one. There are photos of thekids up on the FB page (address above), if you’d like to visit and see them.

The fodder journey is going very well. I have ordered enough tubs to give me 3 tubs a day…all of the girls are more than happy to eat it every day, even though right now it’s barely more than a snack when divided out between  them all. I’ve added in sunflower seeds as well…ther germination rate is okay, but not great and some of the girls turned their noses up at the fodder with that in it so I think I may just stick to leaving it out.

I found out I can get 3 different varieties of field peas at the local co op so that’s great news. They are somewhat pricey but would certinatly calm any fears I have about the girls getting enough calcium, especially the milkers.

I have comissioned Jeremiah to “build” me a fodder trough. I need nothing more than a piece of rolled stainless steel to make a trough long enough for everyone to eat at and then just attach the trough to a couple piece of 2×4’s in an “X” shape at each end for legs. As it is I have to stand on one side of the fence and feed each doe a biscuit individually because there is not enough to go around for a full meal and if I left it up to them to decide, the faster eaters would get a full meal and the slower eaters would get none but that’s because there’s not enough for a full meal. Plus too…I have to cut the biscuits up small enough they can eat it in a mouthfull otherwise they try to flip the biscuits around to chew some off and end up throwing them all on the ground and then won’t touch them, of course so that’s totally wasteful. So, I find myself cutting up the biscuits really small to begin with and that seems to work very well.

With the mishap on Dawn’s due date, we’re now looking at the end of the month/beginning of Feb. for her. She’s filling her udder nicely and so we’ll see what becomes of all that.

We’re supposed to be in for a nice 55 degree day and there’s lots that can be done with that! Jeremiah and I removed the cattle panels that made up our back yard fence. Now that the dogs are finally staying where they belong, we no longer need a fenced area for any dog and I have several good uses in mind for more panels! A person cannever have too many of those!

One of these weekends I’d like to finally get a panel hoop greenhouse put in. I’ve gone through countless photos of what I want and I think I’ve got a pretty good plan in my head of how it will look and should not require the purchse of too much more than a piece of plywood since we have everything else.

Speaking of dogs, if Snow settled her pregnancy back in Nov. we should be expecting pups here fairly soon after the first of Feb. She started digging a new den under the stock trailer back when she was in heat and did not work on it for a long time but the past couple of days I’ve seen new earth being dug up so she’s back at it and looking rather plump these days. We’ll see what becomes of all of that. What’s very odd is that she cycled twice in 2 months time…dogs don’t generally do that. We were expecting pups in Jan. as of last Oct. until she cycled again which pushed it out a month more but she’s doing all the thing she should be doing so here’s to a healthy litter in about 2-3 weeks.

With the new baby goats coming and being expected, I think the dogs really sense this and are hanging back at the barn more and more or one will be at the barn full time (usually King) and one is the patroller (usually Snow). One of the cats came out to say hello this morning and keep me company while I fed and did barn chores and King was none too happy about her coming close to the new goat kids. It’s rather comical. He had to be gently reminded that other creatures are not always out to harm “his” animals. Normally the cat is more than happy to rub herself up and down the dogs but I think she was a little put off that the dog yipped at her. She’ll get over it, I’m sure, and I am sure King now knows she could care less about some goat kid, she just wanted to see what the new black things were.

That’s all for now and all until I can get a computer up and running and not just limping!



January 11, 2013

Fodder costs

3 sheving units (which gives me room for 4 tubs of fodder a day) at $35 each =$105

4 tubs a day x 7 days x (approx.) $3 per tub = $84

1 hose = approx. $10

1 nozzle = $9

1 piece of 6 ” PVC we split in half to form a gutter = $15

misc. plumbing supplies to adapt piping to accommodate a hose bib (approx.) =  $10


50# bag of barley (as of winter 2012/2013) = $18

Cheaper trays are available from Amazon. $25 for 10. I prefer the clear plastic storage tubs. They are heavier duty and they fit better on our shelves.

Whole wheat is running about .21 cents a pound (probably cheaper by the 1/2 ton or more)

Oats are about .22 cents a pound but I did not have good luck with the oats so cost is of no matter.

Sunflower seeds (BOSS) is $25 for a 50# bag which makes each # .50 cents.

Final weight on the fodder is anywhere from 6-10 lbs. from 1 lb. of seed.

Figure a 50# bag of barley grain will give me at least 300 lbs. of fodder for $18 at 80% digestibility. That’s a lot better than 5 bales of brome hay @ 60 lbs. each at $6.50 at only 30% digestibility and nowhere near the protein or mineral content.

Granted, I am not taking in to consideration electricity to run the system (lights only and some electricity to run the water from the well), my time to feed (approximately 20 minutes a day – watering, measuring grain into bucket, filling with water, measuring soaked grains into bins, cutting up fodder mats, cleaning bins) but if we’re getting technical, the time, fuel, manual labor, etc. to put up as much hay as the fodder is supplementing and the savings is quite substantial. We still do feed some hay, as I will mention, it’s necessary for ruminents. In the end fodder saves us money and the animals, in my opinion, are healthier for it.

Hay is essential for the fiber and you cannot feed ruminants just fodder. Our goats do get free choice brome in addition to their fodder. The chickens would do just fine on barley fodder but do need a calcium supplement which can be achieved through oyster shells or ground egg shells. The pigs will need supplemental minerals in addition to their fodder which I do by top dressing (applying minerals on top of the fodder mat before being fed).

So, how much fodder do they need? Strictly for the goats, you want 1%-2% of individual body weight for maintenance, 2+% for individuals needing more weight put on (non-pregnant and non-lactating), growing kids and pregnant does, and 3% for milking/heavily milking. Does it replace grain completely? Probably not for some, but substantially decreases the need for grain on the milk stand. Again, they will need to be supplemented with fiber rations in the form of hay as well and minerals, etc. as usual. They also need supplemental calcium and this is especially important on fodder if feeding a grain ration. We do this with alfalfa hay or pellets. For other animals, there is a link below that will help you determine how much other species may need. Don’t forget to take in to consideration that nutritional differences between hay and barley fodder. Barley fodder roughage requirements given in the table below suggest 30% low quality roughage where as a barley grain based diet for the same steer will require a 30% GOOD quality roughage. Low quality roughage is quite a bit cheaper than GOOD quality roughage and if we’re talking about the difference between straw ($50 a ton) to “Lucerne” alfalfa ($190+ a ton), the cost difference really becomes apparent. I terms of the goats, upwards of 50% waste from hay that falls to the ground and will not get eaten is a considerable financial loss.

What does 1% of body weight mean? Take a 100 lb. animal for example. 1% of 100 lbs. is 1 lb. A 100 lb. animal on a maintenance diet of 1% of body weight a day would require 1 lb. of fodder a day. A bred doe weighing 180 lbs. would require 2% of her body weight in fodder a day. 2% of 180 lbs. is 3.6 lbs. of fodder a day.

Here is what it would look like for a steer fed with barley fodder grown under ideal conditions:


Barley Fodder Barley Grain
Steer requires 40ME/MD per day:
40 / 11.8 (ME/DM for barley fodder)
=3.39 (Kg of DM needed to meet ME requirements)
As barley fodder DM value is 17% of total fodder weight we need to find the total amount of fodder that is to be grown in order to produce 3.39kg DM.This is done by the following equation:
3.39 / 0.17 = 19.94 (kg of fodder required)
To make this easier to understand we can look at it another way. If we grow 19.94kg of fodder, 17% of this fodder will be DM. Therefore 19.94kg X 0.17 = 3.39Kg DM
To grow 19.94kg of fodder we require 2.22kg of grain. Certified barley grain cost = $0.55/kg
2.22kg X $0.55 = $1.22Feed Wastage = nil
Therefore using Barley fodder it will cost you $1.22 per day to feed the 350kg steer.
*We suggest you include 30% low quality roughage and 10% grain or other protein supplementation for best results.
Steer Requires 40ME/DM per day:
40 / 13 (ME/DM for Barley grain)
= 3.08 (Kg of DM needed to meet ME requirements)
As Barley grain DM value is 88.1% of total grain weight, we need to find out the total amount of grain we need to feed in order to give us 3.08kg DM.
This is done with the following equation:
3.08 / 0.881 =3.50 (total kg of grain required)
To make this easier to understand we can look at it another way. If we feed a total of 3.5kg of grain, 88.1% of this will be DM. Therefore 3.5 X 0.88.1 = 3.08kg DM
Therefore the cost of 3.50kg of barley grain at $0.40/kg
I.e. 3.50kg X $0.40 = $1.40Feed wastage = 20% (undigested grain)
Therefore you will be required to feed an extra 20% in order for the animal to digest 100% this will increase all values including the total cost by 20%. ($1.40 X 1.20 = $1.68)
Therefore using Barley feed grain it will cost you $1.68 per day to feed the 350kg steer.
*A standard grain diet should include 30% good quality roughage such as lucerne and 10% protein supplement

The links below are by no means a complete list of education links we’ve used to educate ourselves, just some of the ones I feel are better reads.

Sources sited & education links:

Experiment done with barley fodder (A PDF)

How much fodder to feed: (through either of the following links, you can access information for dairy cattle and beef cattle as well)

Pigs and fodder:




Nutritional value:





January 11, 2013

Feeding Fodder

At full production we are up to 4 bins a day (Jan. 2013) which feeds all of the goats (approx. 25 head (14 does end of pregnancy), dry yearlings, 4 full grown bucks), 3 adult hogs, and all of the chickens ONCE a day. A tray of the fodder in the bins we use weighs about 25-30 lbs.  As of fall 2013, we are switching up the production a bit so that the pigs are on fodder full time without an additional grain ration, they will receive hay each day with their fodder and I sprinkle a hog mineral on their fodder because they are not getting a pre-mixed ration. The goats will no longer get fodder as we are on alfalfa pellets full time now. We do not have the space to grow enough fodder for all of the animals full time without moving the entire system.

All of the goats eagerly devour it though it took a bit of persuasion for a few of them at first. The pigs have never turned their nose up at it and it’s especially wonderful in the winter for them to have it when the pastures they normally forage on aren’t producing and they aren’t getting the milk they normally do.

The chickens are kept busy for a long time pecking away on their fodder biscuits and generally are the clean up crew behind the goats who are not so clean about their fodder eating habits. Very little goes to waste and it’s great green grass for them.

Here is this morning’s fodder all cut up and ready to go. I cut up the “biscuits” pretty small. The whole thing comes out as a flat mat. You just lift it out like a piece of sod because the roots grow intertwined and form a nice mat. I turn my over (root side up) and gently slice through the roots sectioning the mat up to feed out.


I find that the goats waste less if I cut their biscuits up very small otherwise they will grab hold of it and then shake it to get a mouth size section apart to eat and the rest may land up in the dirt and at that point, NO ONE wants it, so it’s wasteful. Cutting it up into mouth size biscuits to begin with saves time and money.


Fodder biscuits ready to be fed

Yesterday’s feeding frenzy pictured below. Apricot doesn’t bother to wait her turn and just helps herself right from the tub.



Ann Curry loves fodder!

Animals may not like it right off the bat. It’s an acquired taste for some, I think. It didn’t take long before everyone here gobbled it up.


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January 7, 2013

Fodder update

 The shelving units are 5 shelf units that are 72″ tall, 36″ wide and 18″ deep. We cut the vertical posts of these shelving units in half. By modifying the unit, it cuts down on the amount of space between shelves which works out just perfectly to accomodate the heighth of the tubs we use to grow our fodder in. We started with 2 units,  added a 3rd unit and split the vertical posts and shelves between the original 2 units. 

We do not use the standard black fodder trays. I found them to be a waste of money and were better suited for starting seeds in the greenhouse. What we did go with are storage tubs from Walmart that cost approx. $3 and come with lids (which we do not use). We drilled holes all along the valley inside the tub along one side. Our shelving unit sits away from the wall a smidge so that we can stagger our trays to drain off the front on one shelf and off the back on the one below it creating a fountain effect. The lowest tub that has collected all the upper drainage water flows into a 6″ gutter along the ground that drains into or sump.

The storage tubs fit absolutely perfectly side by side on our shelves without any wasted space. Using the standard black fodder tubs, only 2 fit side by side.

The storage tubs give me 1″ x 5″ more growing room than the standard seed trays which are 20″x10″ (of actual growing space, the trays are actually 21″ x 11″ and 2″ deep total).

We drilled drainage holes in our tubs on one side in the valley. A drill bit slightly smaller than the post-soaked swollen grains is ideal. Any larger of a hole and the grains will fall through. You want the drainage holes big enough to drain the water well so your fodder is not sitting in water. Allowing the fodder to sit in water will cause it to ferment and rot.

I find 1.5 quarts of pre-soaked grain spreads out very well in the tub post-soak. 1 quart weighs approx. 1.25- 1.5 lbs. For 4 of my fodder trays, I use approx. 7.5 lbs. of barley a day to feed all of the animals once a day.

FOdder shelving