Growing hydroponic fodder for dairy goats on a limited acreage farm

2015 Annual Report for FNC13-905

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Linda DuShane
Heart's Quest Dairy Goats

Growing hydroponic fodder for dairy goats on a limited acreage farm


This year we did not make much progress until September. We have accomplished quite a bit so far. We got the previous system going and then decided to go with a different type of system which will produce more fodder and also will recycle the used water. We also upgraded the heater. The end result is that we were still able to grow fodder with below zero temperatures outside.

We really changed the system and it is now more suited for large scale production.  We use troughs that are tilted with holes only on the ends to drain.  The water runs through the seeds/plants and drains out. Before the water filled the small level trays and slowly drained out; this may have contributed to the mold problem.   We now aerate the water used to soak the seeds; by the time we plant them they are already sprouting.  We now recycle the water which had never worked out before, but a sediment filter was installed in the system and it now recycles with no problem.


Objectives/Performance Targets

This year we would like to expand the system, possibly have another separate system completed. Also in the winter, mold on the fodder isn't a problem but in warmer temperatures it is a constant battle. Our goal is to get that under control so it isn't an ongoing problem. We also would like to use the runoff fodder water as drinking water for the goats. It provides more nutrients and they tend to produce more milk.

We also want to report on more metrics, such as temperature, humidity, and ratio of pounds seeds to pounds of fodder.  Along with this would be workshops and more complete information about the project on our website.


We are growing fodder in below zero temperatures, which was not able to be done in the past.  The fodder we are growing has sunflower in it which had never thrived in the past.  We have also added soy to the fodder which is growing very well too.  The fodder looks wonderful.  The new system is more efficient with the water used and it is recycled.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Our goal has been to show that live food can be grown all year round in an economical way for dairy goat farmers.  We have shown in 2014 that the fodder can be grown efficiently even during the winter months.  And, we have shown that side benefits, like giving the fodder recycled water to the goats, can add to the value of growing sprouts hydroponically.