Economic and chemical comparison of Barley Grain Vs Barley Fodder for dairy indusry #116070 - Ask Extension


Economic and chemical comparison of Barley Grain Vs Barley Fodder for dairy indusry #116070

Asked March 02, 2013, 1:25 PM EST

Dear Sir,
I have a 100 head  holstein herd. I am currently considering to have a barley sprouting system. I see that it requires considerable investment. At first look it seemed very profitable to me and I was inclined to invest in the system. However recently I came across a few articles claiming that DM of sprouted barley is lower compared to barley grain and also they do not bring many advantages. Their finding is that the cattle group fed with barley grain gain more weight compared to the cattle that were fed with barley fodder. The link is as follows :
Performance of Feedlot Calves Fed Hydroponics Fodder:

I will appreciate if you can provide me with more articles about nutritional and economic values of fodder compared to grain for dairy industry.

Deschutes County Outside United States

Expert Response

There are at least two types of hydoponic systems in the market, one where the water is fertilized the other unfertilized. In these systems seeds germinate in general in 24 hours and continue to grow in the tray. On day 6 when the plants are approximately 6-7 inches high (including the root mass) they are ready to harvest. Each day, the plants are removed from the trays at the harvesting end of the chamber. The same trays are then rinsed, re-seeded and loaded back into the system at the seeding end of the chamber. I really understand what you say about the costs because a system like this that produces 1,000 pounds “as is” (roughly 100 lbs of dry matter) of barley plantlings costs approximately US$ 60,000. If the plants are fed at the right stage they could have an energy value similar to that in the grain, never more, particularly in unfertilized systems. In this system the starch is converted to highly digestible fiber that compared on an energy basis “could” be (provided it’s harvested at the right time) similar. What I do see as advantages for the hydroponic systems is something these companies have not used as marketing strategy which is a reduction of the carbon footprint associated with cattle fed hydroponic forages. The high digestibility of these forages would reduce carbon emissions for sure plus that it reduces the acreage cattle can be raised in. This is another factor to consider when evaluating the economics of the system. If the hydroponic forage use frees part of your acreage for other agricultural purposes such as corn/beans rotation it adds up to the gross income per acre.
Alvaro Garcia Replied March 12, 2013, 12:03 PM EDT
Do you think we have a an advantage because of feeding fresh fodder instead of hay in terms of efficiency? İf so to what extend? İ saw some arguments in this way at some of ads. Thank you for the answer. İt is quite satisfactory for me.
The Question Asker Replied March 21, 2013, 3:10 AM EDT
You will find this article from Iowa State University useful as it discusses the economics of hydroponic barley: Best
Alvaro Garcia Replied March 21, 2013, 7:14 AM EDT

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