Using a hydroponic shed that grows 1.5 tonnes of green feed (wet) per day. This amounts to 110 kgs of dry matter .The feed produced contains approximately 25% protein and at least 9 MJ/kg of energy.
Cattle growing at 1.0 kg /day have a dry matter intake of 10 kg per day with a protein content of 12%. Pasture that has matured will have a protein content of approximately 10.5% protein. This quality of pasture will not finish cattle and will severely reduce their weight gain. Cattle can utilise pasture of lower quality provided there is adequate protein in their diet. So to utilise this pasture this fodder can be used to gain a finished article.
For an example: Using 420 kg live weight cattle, required to grow at 1.0 kg/day.
- Feed intake = 10 kg dm/day
- Protein requirement = 12%
- Energy = 100 MJ/day
The diet should comprise 90% pasture and 10% green feed. This will give a diet containing 12% protein and have an energy content of 107 MJ/day. A growth rate of 1.0 kgs per day will return around $2.00 on current market prices. 110kgs of green feed dry matter/day will feed 110 cattle per day resulting in a return of $220 per day
Using a ration utilizing barley sprouts from a Fodder Solutions sprouting system customers have reported profits of $217/day!
Buying cattle in at 350kg at $2/kg, the cattle gain 2.2kg/head/day on the ration that costs $2/head/day. Selling the cattle after 63 days at 500kg for $2.2/kg net a profit of $274 per beast
Studies have concluded that the production of hydroponic fodder is an extremely cost effective and financially viable. Warmblood breeders Chris and Liz Gatti have considered hydroponic fodder as ‘cheap fresh green feed’. Their system can produce 350kg of green feed (wet) for a low cost of $40 a tonne and little maintenance. Remembering that whatever animal you are feeding still lives in its normal environment thus obtaining some dry matter requirements from that environment.
These costs do not even compare to the costs of paddock grown fodder. It has been estimated that the costs of insecticides, fertilisers, machinery and their running costs for cultivation and harvesting and labour of field grown feeds are 10 times greater than that of hydroponically grown feed (Prof. C.A. Arano, 1981). Evidence is also given by Prof. C.A. Arano (in Resh, 1981) that hydroponic grass units produces animal feed at about one-half the cost of the produce conventionally. This is based on the larger amounts of fuel needed in the production and transportation of traditional animal feeds.
Further research has uncovered that the cost to fatten a beast on hydroponic fodder would cost around $40 – $80 over a 90-day to 120 day period. However to fatten the same beast on grain in the same time period, to achieve the same results would incur a cost of approximately $350 depending on grain prices during this period.
Another benefit associated with this method relates to annual beef production. For example, a farmer using hydroponic fodder could sell 200 head of cattle up to 3 times a year, as compared to a farmer who using a normal paddock situation, could only sell 200 head once a year. This makes hydroponic fodder a very cost effective, profitable way to live on the land. (Joe Mooney, Hydroponic Fodder Production, Meat and Livestock Australia)
Sprouts boost intensive Downs beef enterprise
Cattle on a diet with barley sprouts are gaining an extra half a kilogram weight daily while consuming 16 percent less grain mix in a Darling Downs feeding trial.
The first batch of performance results were outlined at a field day hosted by Mike Coverdale on Saturday. (Feb 28)Mr Coverdale is intensively feeding 250 cattle on 32 hectares at Cambooya with the aid of a Fodder Solutions grain sprouting unit which produces 240 kilos of fresh green feed daily.
Fortune Red Lable Beef
Incorporating Barley Sprouts with Meat Excellence
“We have been in the horticultural wholesale nursery game for 20 years and specialize in new plant releases. Our fascination with cattle and our horticultural background means that sprouting barley in a fodder system and feeding it to the cattle ties our two passions together nicely!” Visit Fortune Red Lable Beef to find out more.
Dexters thrive on sprouts at Oakey
Small cattle on a small property with intensive fodder feeding has been a winning formula for one of Australia’s most successful Dexter cattle enterprises.
Neale and Jeanette Bourne combine stud breeding and finishing the nuggety beef machines for the local premium trade near Oakey on the Darling Downs. They continued their run of show success around the country taking out the breeders group and winning.
Until recently, barley fodder was considered filler, and the nutritional value was underestimated. However, with increased awareness of the nutritional value of barley fodder and associated health benefits, it is recognized as a beneficial portion of an animals feed ration. Recent issues in the beef industry has increased holistic approaches to forage production to minimize costs while optimizing animal health and performance.
Fodder solutions systems are also suited for locations confronting hindered agricultural development as a result of feed shortages, water shortages, drought, adverse climatic conditions, rapid population growth and rapid urbanization (reduced agricultural land near urban areas).
Hydroponic systems for growing fodder offer an attractive, cost effective alternative to growing fodder in soil. Market demand for an economically viable “organic” feed supply source is supported by increased public and industry unease over animal feed quality, food supply safety, and concerns relating to pesticide and veterinary drug residues in meat and poultry products.