Thanks to everyone who voted for us! We’ve received 250 votes and now wait until January to see what the results are. Wish us luck! In the meantime:
Something BIG is coming…
Join us on December 5th for the Global Premiere! The newest Fodder Solutions system will be officially released in Grass Valley, California. In addition to this exciting news, we’ll also have Fodder Solutions representatives from all over the world, including: The inventors from Australia, representatives from Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, and more! A guest panel will be in attendance that may include university professors, experienced fodder users, presidents of beef companies, owners of well known horse facilities, nutritionists, and veterinarians. Meet those that have developed fodder machines, those that understand fodder, and those that use it.
Simply Country, Inc manufacturing facility
12759 Loma Rica Drive
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Thursday December 5th, 2013.
2pm – 8pm
Fodder is an affordable, healthy feed. The most important part is the seed you put into the system. If you can’t find seed, you can’t grow fodder, period. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to find.
In case you haven’t seen it, there is a map here: Seed Map The map includes known suppliers of barley or wheat seed around the country. If you don’t see someone in your area, please leave a comment and we’ll do some digging. Usually a few minutes on the phone will result in a decent supplier.
When looking for seed make sure to ask for a “certified” seed grade grain. Often times it’s tempting to buy a lesser quality field run source due to price. It appears to be substantially cheaper – but there are a couple of reasons to beware. Let’s throw out an example:
Let’s say certified seed is 25 cents per lb. (Note that you can have cleaned seed that’s not certified. That’s good, but not best) Now compare that to a field run seed that’s 18 cent’s per lb.
The local feed store can get it for you in 50lb bags. Sounds great! That’s $12.50 vs $9 per bag. You can save $3.50 on each bag if you get a field run instead.
Is that really a fair comparison? Not really. The clean seed is 50lbs. The field run is 50lbs of seed, chaff, dirt, and whatever else came in with it. As an experiment, you could have it cleaned and find out exactly how much is lost, but let’s say you end up with 45lbs of seed. (Actual vary amounts vary from very little, to losing A LOT of weight) Recalculating at $9, you’ve now paid 20 cents per lb. (What if you don’t clean it? – Mold will happen, I can almost guarantee it.)
25 cents vs 20 cents, still getting a deal, right? Almost, we’re not quite done yet…. A cleaned seed might work. The next step is a germination test. A little known fact about barley, wheat, or other grains is that how it’s harvested effects the germination. Improper settings on harvesting equipment can literally kill the germ inside of the seed that allows it to sprout. If the grain wasn’t intended for growing, you may see this problem. The only way to know for sure if a seed will work is to perform a germination test.
Let’s assume the seed sprouts, but not as well it should. A germination rate of 80% x 45lbs of seed would be equivalent to sprouting 36lbs of good seed. 36lbs at $9 = 25 cents per lb. That’s the same as the certified seed! Cost-wise you’re breaking even. Nutrition-wise you’ll be feeding some un-sprouted grain in your fodder, which I count as a negative.
Now all of these numbers were picked somewhat randomly, but based on feedback from people around the country, I honestly think I’m being nice to the field run seed. I’ve heard some horror stories of hardly any seed sprouting.
In the end, the moral of the story is be wise. If you find some somewhat clean seed that’s really cheap and works – go for it. If it’s slightly more expensive but works great – use it! If it sounds to cheap to be true – it probably is.
This is a question that comes up often with fodder. Surely you’re thinking this lush green grass is going to cause colic or laminitis. The key thing here is that it’s not a grass – yet. A sprout at 6 days is dramatically different from both dry grains and green grass. Grains are acidic in nature and although they have potential nutrients, they’re not in a form that can be easily digested. As grains sprout they change from acidic to alkaline. Hydrolytic enzymes breakdown compounds into simpler, more digestible forms. What you end up with is an increase in available vitamins and minerals, and a neutralization of anti-nutritional compounds. It’s a high protein, high energy, digestible (over 70%), wet feed. Horses maintain better hydration during training, events, or racing. The digestibility means there’s not an excess of non-structural carbohydrates (i.e., NSC, sugars) to move on and ferment in the cecum. This fermenting would eventually increase acidity, kill good bacteria, and cause body-wide inflammation (particularly in the lamina of the feet = laminitis).
Oh – were you expecting more of an explanation? Well here is an ROI calculator so you can determine for yourself if it’s cost effective. You can type into the yellow fields your own numbers. This calculator will give you a comparison of your current feed costs, vs the potential cost for fodder.
The numbers are estimates, but they’re not hype. A horse facility in California has reported that their machine producing 650lbs of fodder per day paid for itself in 1.5 years. The machine cost well over $30,000 and is now saving a significant amount of money each month. The Santa Rosa Equestrian Facility is currently saving about $200/day on their feed costs. They typically have 90-100 horses.
A farmer in northeaster Michigan recently purchased a system that was more than $45,000. Despite what seems like a high start-up cost, preliminary results show that he’s going to save about $30,000 per year in feed costs.
To put things into a larger scale, a dairy farmer with about 200 cows implemented a fodder system in late 2012. His average feed bill was around $40,000/mo. His first month using fodder the bill dropped – to $12,000.
Plug in the numbers and see how they look, it can’t hurt!
ROI calculator assumes a conversion of 6.5lbs of fodder from 1lb of seed.
If you’ve read anything about fodder you’ve probably heard about a risk of mold. You’ve probably also heard of “mold-free guarantees” from various salesman.
So is there any system on the market that’s never had a mold issue? The short answer – No. But let me explain that a bit further, because it is possible to grow fodder with zero mold, numerous people are doing just that.
I’ll start off by saying that I’ve talked to people that own just about every type of system that exists on the market. I know of no system that is capable of preventing mold 100%. – And there never will be.
IT’S NOT THE SYSTEMS JOB TO STOP MOLD!
What!? What do you mean?
There are very simple ways to prevent mold – 100% of the time. But they are things that you have to do. If you see mold, something is wrong. So here they are:
1. Get good seed.
Did you ever wonder where the mold comes from in the first place? It comes from the seed itself, and a dirty or “field-run” variety of seed will have more of it. Don’t skimp on the seed, the whole system depends on it. Cleaned is good, certified seed is best. If the rest of your system is setup correctly, you don’t even need to pre-soak.
2. Climate Control.
There are systems that have automated climate control. This makes this step really (I mean really) easy. Usually turning the temperature down a degree or two during the summer, and up a degree or two during the winter is all you need. I think you can afford a few seconds a year to do that. If you don’t have an automatically climate controlled environment, you’re going to have a tough time with this part. You’ll need to be on top of the temperature day and night. Commercial systems control temps within +/- 1 degree of their set point.
3. Clean environment
Keep things clean. This isn’t a laboratory environment, but you do need to do some regular cleaning. The trays should be cleaned after every use before putting on fresh seed. Floors of systems should be cleaned of the slimy surfactant that washes off of the seeds. A few can get away without, (very few) but you’ll also need chlorine or hydrogen peroxide in the water system.
4. Maintain air flow and AC units.
Somehow you’ll be cooling your system. Check filters on your AC unit regularly. If you don’t it’s a double whammy, like being kicked by mule and butted by a goat – at the same time. A clogged air filter will reduce your cooling capacity and increase mold. It will also reduce airflow – your fodder likes fresh air and needs to breath. Mold on the other hand will be happy to grow there.
So there you have it! A mold-free guarantee – from yourself.
Photo Credit: Darrell Wood, President of Panorama Meats.
This question comes up all the time, so a calculator has been added here: http://www.foddersolutions.net/frequently-asked-questions/which-system-is-the-right-size-for-me/
These are guidelines as each animal is different. Is your horse an easy keeper? Then you may not need 18lbs of fodder per day. It’s not uncommon to see easy keepers get fat easily if they’re fed too much fodder. On the other hand, I’ve also seen more than 50lbs given to thoroughbred racehorses. The extra moisture and energy is excellent for training or racing.
There are many ways to introduce fodder and cut your feed expenses. If grain is expensive, you may want to consider slowly replacing it with fodder. With dairies, beef cattle, and horses alike, we’ve seen that they can maintain milk production, weight gains, or energy when grain is reduced, or even eliminated.
If good hay is expensive, replace some of it with fodder. You can substitute with a lower quality roughage and get the nutrition needed from the fodder.
Be flexible, and if you need help, ask questions. Fodder is new to almost everyone and we’re all asking “dumb questions” – So don’t fret!
Bob shows off his first ever fodder biscuit. He’s reported that he’s decided to use just 2 lbs of seed per biscuit. (The full capability of his system is not required at this point in time, he’s cut back from the recommended 2.75lbs) However, his fodder has grown into 15lbs in just 6 days! That’s better than a 7 to 1 ratio from someone that’s never grown fodder before.
So what is the ideal ratio? With all of the claims out there, how do you know what to believe? Is 4lbs of fodder from 1lb of seed good enough? Should it be 6, 7, 8, or even 10? I strongly believe there is a balance. Not enough fodder, something isn’t right. Too much fodder, something smells fishy….
6.5 to 1 is a good starting point. Every decent fodder machine should be able to get this. In my opinion anything over 7 is doing well, 8 to 1 is extraordinary.
So what about those getting 10lbs? Isn’t that better? Not necessarily. 10lbs sounds good, but 10lbs of what? Are you getting sprouts or grass at that point? You’re most likely getting grass, which is high in sugars, and is not nearly as digestible as sprouts. The bottom line is, you have more weight to feed, but your animals don’t actually get as much from it. And for some animals it can actually do more harm than good.
So be careful with the claims you read. You want the best sprout growth you can get – not grass.