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.

Performance of Dairy Cows when replacing 100% concentrate and 50% grain with Hydroponic Fodder

This paper examines the development of a fundamentally new automated hydroponic system for growing green fodder, which creates a solid fodder base capable to satisfy the need of livestock for nutrients throughout the year with low material costs. The new hydroponic green fodder produced according to the developed technology contained the required nutrients that contribute to the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates into easily digestible organic components (amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars) which are simpler in their structure. Moreover, it completely replaced compound feed, a mineral supplement in the diet of milking cows, and reduced the amount of fodder needed. In dry matter, compared to fodder barley, the content of protein (128.93%) and fat (196.73%) were higher, and biologically active substances were also formed. The new fodder used the nutrients of the diet more efficiently, increased milk production and reduced fodder costs. When hydroponic green fodder from barley was introduced into the diet of cows with 100% replacement of the compound fodder and 50% replacement of grain mass, milk yield in the experimental group exceeded the yield in the control group by 6%. An additional 549.5 kg was obtained from each cow for lactation, and 549.5 × 20 = 10990 kg was obtained from the entire experimental group.

Conclusions: The studies showed that 100% replacement of compound fodder and 50% replacement of grain mass showed that when hydroponic green fodder from barley was introduced into the diet of cows, the milk yield in the experimental group exceeded this indicator in the control group by 6%. Thus, the production of hydroponic fodder based on new technology provides animals with a high-quality supplement with high protein and energy value. Its use significantly improves the quality of the diet and the resulting milk. In addition it makes it possible to solve the problem of animal health, especially in farms that use highly productive breeds and reduces the cost of fodder.

Hydroponic Green Forage in Diets of Growing Pigs

The importance of conducting studies on the use of hydroponic green corn fodder (HGCF) is because, the productive and economic impact on the feeding of pigs in the region of the Coast of Oaxaca has been poorly evaluated. The objective of the study was to evaluate the productive behaviour in growing pigs with HGF as a supplement, with diets based on commercial feed and including HGCF. The research was conducted during the months of August to November 2017. Four treatments were evaluated [T1: control, T2: 85/15%; T3: 70/30% and T4: 55/45% of food trade and HGCF respectively], under a completely randomized design with four repetitions per treatment. 16 dewormed and vaccinated pigs were used, with an initial weight of 10.41 kg. Total feed consumption (TFC), feed conversion (FC), total weight gain (TWG), and cost-benefit ratio (CBR) were evaluated. The data obtained were analysed by Proc. SAS GLM. The averages were compared with the Tukey test. Differences (p˂ 0.05) were found in the TFC, where the highest value was 110 kg. The highest TWG was 42.67 kg. As for CBR, the productive parameters are improved as the HGCF percentage increases (45%) In the diet of pigs. It is concluded that the inclusion of 30% of HGCF in the diet of growing pigs improves their productive behaviour.

Conclusions: The inclusion of hydroponic green forage from corn in feed diets of fattening pigs in this study demonstrated significant results; since, as the percentage of HGCF increased in the evaluated treatments, it was reflected in the reduction in consumption of these, the daily and total weight gain increased, as well as the food conversion and the cost benefit ratio in the treatments whose HGCF content was higher. The use of 55% of commercial balanced feed and 45% of hydroponic green forage from corn is recommended.

Effect of Hydroponic Fodder on Beef Cattle Performance.

Daily gain of 20 Droughtmaster steers, 15-18 months of age, fed hydroponically sprouted barley shoots and hay on ‘Lyndon’ Station (115o3′ E, 23o6′ S) in the Gascoyne/Pilbara region of Western Australia was measured. The cattle grazed the native and improved pasture on the property prior to them being introduced to the hydroponically sprouted barley (hydroponic fodder) and some hay 4 days before starting the trial. The hydroponic fodder was grown in fibreglass trays held in racks in a specifically constructed shed. About 14kg of barley seed (v. Mundah) was spread on each tray which was intermittently flood irrigated with a nutrient solution. The young sprouted barley, which grew into a grass mat, was harvested at 6 – 7days and fed daily to the animals. The average weight of each grass mat was 71.5 kg. Cattle were fed the hydroponic fodder each day and hay, either limited (48 days) or ad lib (22 days), every 2nd day, plus the day before the animals were weighed. The cattle were weighed weekly at about the same time each morning. Hydroponic fodder and hay samples collected during the feeding period were analysed for DM, metabolizable energy and crude protein concentration. 

Conclusion: Traditional nutritional standards for feeding beef cattle cannot explain the liveweight gain, particularlyin the 1st period (Table 1). There was no obvious weight gain due to gut fill or compensatory growth.The better-than-expected performance may be associated with the readily available nutrients andassociated enzymes in the 6-7 day old fodder being very rapidly utilised by the animal, immediatelythey are formed. They may not be included by the assay when in vitro DM digestibility is beingmeasured. These nutrients could result in enhanced microbial activity and growth in the rumen, andconsequently, better than expected utilisation of the poor quality hay that was also fed. Therefore, thefermentation of the young hydroponically sprouted barley may have provided far greater energy thanwas estimated by the in vitro DM digestibility assay.

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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