Archive for January 11th, 2013

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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