- Animals: sheep
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
This project will address a method of supplementing sheep with hydroponically grown green fodder during late pregnancy and lactation--a period of high nutrition need. The ultimate goal of this project is to design, test and evaluate an innovative green fodder system for supplementing pregnant and lactating sheep that may also be appropriate for small acreage grass finishing operations. This technology will be tested for scalability, economic and cost-benefits, labor efficiencies, and the nutritional value, quality and consistency of the product.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: The Green Fodder equipment will be designed, fabricated and evaluated.
• Design and fabricate cargo van body as a controlled environment structure for growing a daily production of 500 lb of green fodder / produce output. The van will provide an inexpensive structure for finalization product development.
• Install electrical and plumbing system. Forage will be automatically watered. Heat and cooling will be controlled for summer and winter so that optimum temperatures will be maintained.
• Fabricate and refine growing system. Issues specific to growing fodder without mold contamination will be resolved and produce trialed.
Objective 2: The prototype system will be evaluated and adapted as necessary.
• Trial Run. Fodder will be produced and harvested throughout late winter and early spring for pregnant and lactating ewes. The energy requirements, expenses, modifications and quality of production will be evaluated.
• Data collection for scalability, economic and cost/benefit analysis, labor efficiencies, nutrition analysis with comparison to standard feeds and production capacity per unit and product type tested.
Objective 3: The full process will be evaluated and results summarized
• Efficiency of full system will be analyzed.
• Ease and ergonomics of product handling will be reviewed.
• A cost comparison performed between grain concentrate supplementation and green fodder.