The Evidence

Farmers who use hydroponic livestock feed have been seeing and experiencing the benefits of doing so first hand, and now the science is here to back up their claims.

Effect of Hydroponic Fodder on Lamb Performance.

The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of feeding hydroponic barley (HB) on the performance of Awassi ram lambs. A total of 50 weaned lambs were used in a feeding trial by dividing it into two groups. The first was fed a total mixed ration diet (control) while lambs in the second group were fed similar ration except that barley grain was totally replaced by HB for 90 days feeding trial. Lambs were fed ad libitum twice per day and had free access to fresh water. Feed offered and refusals were collected, body weight gain was measured weekly, and feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated.

Results of the experiment showed that HB had a positive effect (p<0.05) on feed intake, final body weight, total gain, average daily gain, and FCR on lambs fed the HB diet when compared to lambs fed the control diet.

Conclusion: HB can be used as feed for lambs in the fattening period to enhance their growth performance.

Effect of feeding hydroponic maize fodder on the digestibility of nutrients and milk production in lactating cows.

Key Findings: There was a 13.7% increase in the milk yield of T-HF (4.64, kg/d) than the T-CF group (4.08 kg/d). The feed conversion ratio of DM (2.12 vs 2.37), CP (0.29 vs 0.30) and TDN (1.45 vs 1.52) to produce a kg milk was better in the T-HF than the T-CF group. There was a higher net profit of Rs. 12.67/- per cow/d on feeding HMF.

Conclusion: It can be concluded that feeding Hydroponic Maize Fodder to lactating cows increased the digestibility of nutrients and milk production leading to an increase in net profit.

Feeding effects of maize and barley hydroponic fodder on dry matter intake, nutrient digestibility and body weigth gain of goats.

Key Findings: Results denoted a significant (P < 0.05) improvement in DM intake in T5 (504.51 g/day) and T3 (415.36 g/day) than control (317.54 g/day) and DM digestibility coefficient was highest in T5 (68.44%) and T3 (67.28%) while feed conversion efficiency in T3 (12.15%) and T5 (10.56%) was higher than T0(-0.47%) and average body weight gain in T3 (61.93g/day) and T5 (56.70g/day) was significantly higher than T0 (-1.17g/day). 

Conclusion: Feeding of hydroponic maize and barley fodder up to 40% substitution (DMI) increased the digestibility of nutrients, feed conversion efficiency and body weight gain of growing goats.

Productive Effects and Economical Feasibility of Substituting Barley by 10% and 30% with Sprouted Barley in the Diet of Male Awassi Lambs.

Background and Objective: Hydroponic sprouted barley produced from barley grains having high germination rate, grown for a short period of time in a special method that provides appropriate growing conditions. Present study is aimed to cultivated and produce sprouted barley under local conditions and estimated its effects at a levels of 10 and 30% in diet of Awassi male lambs and revealed its effects on chemical compositions alteration, some blood parameters, productivity traits and economical feasibility.

Materials and Methods: The production plan was designed for 120 days period, using hydroponic steel chamber. Barley seeds were cleaned, washed, soaked and spread on the trays in order to implantation by hydroponic system and water irrigation, lambs is with average body weight of 19.25±0.25 kg and 4 month ages was split into 3 groups, 6 to each. All groups were daily feed with 2% b.wt., of concentrate diet, the amount of feed daily recorded, dry matter intake and feed conversion ratio calculated by weekly. Body weight also, biweekly recorded. One way ANOVA test were conducted to compare the means of each treatment, data were analyzed by using SPSS statistical.

Results: The chemical analysis revealed significantly higher value in barley grains in comparative to sprouts, but in organic matter and acid detergent fiber chemical analysis values were appeared non-significantly, in blood parameters evaluation, both treated groups particularly 30% group recorded higher values compare to control group. In productive trail the total concentrate diet consumed by each animal in different groups were 63.00, 68.760 and 59.04 kg for groups 10 and 30% and control, the amount of concentrate diet consumed by each animals without sprouts in different groups were 60.48, 60.48 and 59.04, respectively, while the total amount of the sprouts in treated groups were 2.520 and 8.28 kg, then, the total price are 132.96, 192.24 and 96.96 in Iraqi Dinar/1000, thus the total profit for each group are 84.68, 141.96 and 61.51 Iraqi Dinar/1000 for 10 and 30% and control group, respectively.

Conclusion: According to these results it could be recommend to substituted more high than present percentages of sprouted barley those used in present study to the diet of ruminants and lambs for more economic profit and to improvements productive traits.

Sheep Fodder Replacement Diet Trial.

During March 2012, a sheep farmer agreed to run a trial on his lambs using mats of fresh sprouted barley fodder produced with a Fodder System, to replace a portion of his concentrate ration. When the farmer was happy that the system was running consistently, and the sheep were familiar with the feed, he split a group of them off from the herd in order to feed them separately, and monitor their performance.

Over the course of six weeks, he fed them a portion of one mat of fodder weighing approximately 8Kg produced from 1.2Kg of barley grain, alongside some concentrate. The farmer fed the sheep according to the parameters outlined in the methods section, and weighed the sheep every two weeks. The data used in this report is that recorded by the farmer.

The results provided by the farmer from sheep on the Fodder Replacement Diet, show that while the concentrate feed level drops the sheep show weight gain levels consistent with that expected from their normal diet. Weight gain normally expected from fattening lambs would be between 0.15 – 0.30Kg/day. When results from sheep on the fodder diet are compared to this standard there is no difference in productivity between them.

Conclusion: Freshly sprouted barley fodder produced by the Fodder System is capable of replacing the concentrate ration in a sheep’s diet without detrimentally affecting their productivity. A longer-term trial would be necessary to evaluate the health benefits provided by the feed and benefits to the business as a result of healthier stock.

Benefits of Sprouts for Feed.

Chavan and Kadam (1989) concluded that – “The desirable nutritional changes that occur during sprouting are mainly due to the breakdown of complex compounds into a more simple form, transformation into essential constituents, and breakdown of nutritionally undesirable constituents.”

“The metabolic activity of resting seeds increases as soon as they are hydrated during soaking. Complex biochemical changes occur during hydration and subsequent sprouting. The reserve chemical constituents, such as protein, starch and lipids, are broken down by enzymes into simple compounds that are used to make new compounds.”

Conclusion: Sprouting grains causes increased activities of hydrolytic enzymes, improvements in the contents of total proteins, fat, certain essential amino acids, total sugars, B-group vitamins, and a decrease in dry matter, starch and anti-nutrients. The increased contents of protein, fat, fibre and total ash are only apparent and attributable to the disappearance of starch. However, improvements in amino acid composition, B-group vitamins, sugars, protein and starch digestibilities, and decrease in phytates and protease inhibitors are the metabolic effects of the sprouting process.

The Biological and Economical Feasibility of Feeding Barley Green Fodder to Lactating Awassi Ewes.

The objective of this research was to investigate the biological and economical values of hydroponic barley (HB) on lactating Awassi ewes. A total of 48 lactating ewes were used in a feeding trial in two groups. The first was fed a regular lactation TMR ration while ewes in the second treatment were fed similar ration except that regular wheat hay was totally replaced by HB for 120 days feeding trial.

Results of the experiment showed that the green fodder yield in 8 days germination cycle was 7.5 kg per 1 kg barley grains of green fodder. HB had no effects on feed intake (FI), body weight changes, milk yield, and milk composition; however, HB had positive effects on ewe’s health conditions, mortalities, conception rates and abortion.

Conclusion: HB can be used as feed for lactating sheep as cost of feed can be reduced by 42%.

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