Posts tagged ‘fodder’

December 17, 2013

Pigs and fodder, a cost analysis

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In my last blog post I mentioned the new feeding ration for the goats and touched lightly on our barley fodder. If you’d like to read more on our fodder experience, click here.

Be forewarned, there’s a lot of # crunching below =).

Last winter we started our barley fodder feeding for the goats. It’s turned into a viable option for the hogs and chickens more so than the goats due to space constraints for growing fodder we’re placing on ourselves (you can read all about that in the previous post).

With the fodder set up we have currently in the basement, we can easily make 4 bins a day – a minimum of 100 lbs. of fully grown fodder a day, but it’s closer to 126 lbs. on two 36″ x 18″ shelving units (a  72″ x 18″ footprint). Technically one of those shelving units is 8 shelves tall, the other is 7 shelves tall (we modified 3 units to fit into the space of 2 with the top shelf being at a height of about 6′ on the taller unit). If we grew another 2 bins on that extra shelf, we could increase our weekly weight by 200+ lbs. (252 lbs. if you want to be technical or 1008+ more lbs. a month!).

What it translates into is this: 882 POUNDS of feed a week in a footprint that’s 72″ x 18″ (on 14 shelves using 4 bins a day). We could easily grow half a ton of fodder in our basement a week by using all 15 shelves & 30 bins (or more than 2 tons (4,000 lbs) a month!) in just a 72″ x 18″ footprint!

We don’t need 4 bins a day to feed the hogs and chickens. We could drop it down to 2-3 bins a day just for those animals but we could also leave the set up as is and feed the 4 bucks one-two meals in addition. We’d either have to cut back on goats in order to be able to feed all of them based on the 4 bins a day we get or increase fodder 2 fold. It’s best if we switch who gets the majority of the fodder.

I won’t get into how good the experts say fodder is for animals or digestion percentages over a 100% grain based diet (corn, soy, etc.), etc. I will merely say that it’s supposedly great for them. We did our own trails and were very happy with it. I hadn’t intended to include our feeding ration, this post was strictly meant as a cost analysis but a blog commenter asked if our supplement(s) made any sort of significant increase after the initial posting. I talk about our feeding later in this post to explain our ration and how our supplements do not affect the bottom much financially. I have included several links at the bottom of this post also and I urge you to do your own research.

I did some rough calculations this morning just based off of tonnage. A 50# bag of 14% hog feed from the local co op runs $10 (not including tax). Bulk price for hog feed into one of our barrels or back of a pick up/equivalent is cheaper but I am strictly using a bagged price as an idea of savings. A 50# bag of barley costs us approx. $18. (It may be cheaper in other parts of the country. A friend in Alaska can get it for about $9.)

There are 40 (50#) bags of hog feed in a ton. Priced with tax it runs $432 a ton. From a 50# bag of barley I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 350# of return. I am not counting  electricity (minimal to run 2 lights & pump water from the well), I figure it evens itself out with fuel and time to go get commercial hog feed so I am calling that a wash.

It would take roughly 5.71 (50#) bags of barley at $18 to grow a ton of barley fodder (2,000 lbs). We get approximately 7 lbs. of fully grown fodder from 1 lb. of seed. Some get upwards of 12 lbs. with ideal growing conditions and high percentage germination seed. 2,000 divided by 350 (approx. return of a 50# bag of barley once full grown in to fodder) = 5.71 bags. Multiply 5.71 by $18 and the total cost to grow 2,000 of barley fodder is $103.

Subtract $103 (price to grow a ton of barley fodder) from $432 (price per ton of bagged hog feed) and I end up with a savings of $329! I save $329 a ton to feed the pigs fodder over pre-mixed hog feed. WOW!!! I had no idea until I just crunched numbers that it was that much!

What’s better is that in the spring and summer a majority of their diet is pasture and goat’s milk. Growing fodder in the fall and winter allows them access to the same pasture based diet that we love. Now I know how much money it saves!

I suppose at some point I will have to do calculations for the chickens as well. So much of their spring/summer/fall diet comes from free ranging that what we actually spend in feed is minimal. The majority of the benefit of feeding them fodder, as I see it right now, is strictly health benefits. I’ll save that for another time.

Learn more about pigs and barley fodder by reading the links below or do a simple search for “pigs & barley fodder” through Google or your favorite search engine. I have also included plenty of links accessible via the “fodder tab” and clicking link that has additional information.

Information for feeding pigs fodder in the first link below, sheep and goats is toward the bottom. This link may provide valuable information as to possibly why it may not be nutritionally effective to feed just fodder for those considering. Few things are always perfect. We incorporate a supplement into our pig’s diet along with the straight barley fodder and they also get clabbered goat’s milk during times when it’s feasible. Our supplement cost is minimal (it’s a mineral ration to incorporate more calcium we feel they need.) We also feed them more fodder than what is generally the recommended daily rate.  The mineral supplement has little effect of the overall savings/expenditure, literally less than a penny a pound (of fodder). The goat’s milk in their diet is excess, depending on time of year. We do not consider that cost as a supplement to be added to the cost to raise the pigs as it’s not required to be fed in addition to the fodder, we just happened to have it.

You’ll see that some individuals mix their sprouting seeds and incorporate legumes, etc. As I said, it’s best to do your research. When searching for information, go beyond the first page of the search engine page.  Look for experiments that may have been done. Look for the cons as well as the pros. Looking for both pros and cons allowed us to make a better overall decision.

http://www.sheepandgoat.com/articles/hydrofodder.html

http://www.foddersolutions.org/csfeedback/traditional-pigs-thrive-on-sprout-diet-toowoomba-qld/

http://www.foddersystems.com/benefits/swine.html

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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.

 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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December 14, 2012

Day 1: Barley Fodder

Day 1: soaking the barley.

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We’re taking a bit of a “leap” here on the farm and we’re going to attempt barley fodder. Our attempts are going to be very primitive to start, just so I can get a good idea of what we’re doing and how might be best to set it up.

I think our basement, at least while the weather is cool, will be a very good place for it. It stays a pretty consistent “cool” down there and with a sump pump and pit in the “mechanical room” for the air conditioner drainage, it would be perfect  for the drainage from the growing trays. If in fact it goes really well, and I hope it does, we can grow a pretty good bit on a daily basis at least until summer when we’ll either need an air conditioner down there or for the whole system to be moved elsewhere.

Maybe this will be the initiative we need to get my new milk parlor started and turn the old milk room into the fodder room! Ooooooo, that amount of fodder I could grow in there!

Without getting too ahead of myself, I see legume fodder at some point too, woo hoo!

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