One the of the biggest challenges for any small-scale livestock farm with limited acreage is winter feed costs. Grain, mineral, and protein supplements for hogs continue to rise in price and similarly hay costs for cattle. Pork and beef are the backbone of our farm’s income source and keeping stock on the farm year-round is critical to our economic success. Fodder production has the amazing ability of taking a 50lb bag of seed and turning it into ~150-200lbs of highly nutrient dense feed rich in vitamins, Omega 3s, amino acids, and protein. Rather than buying ~6400lbs of oats (200 bushels) and grinding it for feed, we could turn those oats into ~25,600lbs of feed. Not only is it a better use of resources, but also allows us to put a significant dent in how much feed and hay we are feeding in the winter months and at the same time supplement our livestock diets with a nutrient dense feed normally only found during the growing season. Compared to other SARE Grants focused on fodder, this would be the first project to test the economic viability of a fodder system to reduce overall winter feed costs for an outdoor swine operation.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Install a small to medium scale fodder system in a heated indoor building.
- Test multiple grain types to find the best fit for our livestock species.
- Measure day to day labor needs of maintaining a fodder system.
- Evaluate the feed cost reductions supplementing our livestock diets during the winter months.
- Share findings of fodder system through farm tours, group visits, social media, and a conference presentation.