Feasibility of Growing Green Fodder in a Portable Greenhouse for Sheep

2012 Annual Report for FNC12-881

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:

Feasibility of Growing Green Fodder in a Portable Greenhouse for Sheep


This project addresses 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.

• Objective 1: The Green Fodder equipment will be designed, fabricated and evaluated.
Task 1: Design and fabricate cargo van body as a controlled environment structure for growing a daily production of 500 lbs of green fodder/produce output. The van will provide an inexpensive structure for finalization product development. Task 2: 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.
Task 3: Fabricate and refine growing system. Issues specific to growing fodder without mold contamination will be resolved and produce trialed.

Accomplishment: The facility was designed and equipment was assembled and tested. When heat was used in early spring the results were good. When heat was not provided high humidity caused some mold growth. The water system supplied with the unit is poorly designed, and appears to be contributing to the mold issue due to significant air space in the water system, and requires change.

• Objective 2: The prototype system will be evaluated and adapted as necessary.
Task 1: 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.
Task 2: 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.

Accomplishment: The data collected is limited due to mold growth and some redesign requirements of the unit and process. Additional trial runs and data collection is scheduled for year 2.

• Objective 3: The full process will be evaluated and results summarized
Task 1: Efficiency of full system will be analyzed.
Task 2: Ease and ergonomics of product handling will be reviewed.
Task 3: A cost comparison performed between grain concentrate supplementation and green fodder.

Accomplishment: Scheduled for year 2.


Shawn Denver

125 Eisenhower Ave
Clayton, WI 54004
Office Phone: 7156410359