Can barley fodder be fed in place of grass hay to dairy goats and dairy sheep and what effect will it have on milk production and composition.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $19,407.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Host Institution Award ID: G216-19-W7501
Grant Recipient: Brigham Young University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Anita Wilson
Milky Hollow Creamery

Information Products


  • Animals: goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed formulation, feed rations


    Can barley fodder be fed in place of grass hay to dairy goats and dairy sheep and what effect will it have on milk production and composition. 

    The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of barley sprout fodder (BSF) on milk production and milk composition of Saanen does and Friesian ewes. Twenty Saanen does (1 year-old) and twenty East Friesian ewes (1 to 5 years old), were selected for this experiment, where each species was divided into four treatment groups.  Goat treatments consisted of 0, 1.7, 3.4 and 5 pounds of fodder added to an alfalfa/grass hay mix.   Sheep treatments were similar, but 0, 1, 2 and 3 pounds.  Dry matter content of the fodder was 10.7%.  Four pounds and 2 pounds (goats and sheep) of a grain mix were fed at morning and evening milking . Treatment diets were fed for fourteen days.  Feed consumed was measure and milk yield and samples were collected on day 13 and 14.  Milk samples were analyzed for milk fat, protein and lactose.  Cheese was made from day 14 milk and milk and cheese were analyzed for fatty acid composition.  Dry matter intake increased between the no fodder and high fodder treatments for both species 6.2 to 7.5 #/d for goats and 6.2 to 7.0 #/d for sheep.  Milk yield and composition, including fatty acids, were not affected by fodder treatment.  Goat milk yield was 3.0 #/d, while sheep was 1.1 #/d.  Milk fat was 2.8 and 6.1%, protein was 2.7 and 4.8% and lactose was 4.5 and 5.0% for goats and sheep.  The no fodder diet cost $0.93 /day.  The fodder addition cost $1.30 for the goats and $1.03 for the sheep.  The use of barley sprout fodder is a tool for the producer.  The high moisture limits the amount of fodder that can be fed without negatively affecting nutrient intake and subsequent milk production.  The producer must decide if the extra cost is beneficial to their program.    

    Project objectives:

    Our focus for this grant is to look at how barley sprout fodder will affect goat and sheep milk characteristics and how these milk characteristics transfer to secondary products like cheese.  Our objectives include

    1. Determine if replacing grass hay with barley sprout fodder affect milk production.
    2. Determine if barley fodder alters the milk composition (milk fat, protein and fatty acids).
    3. Determine if the altered milk fatty acid composition affects cheese fatty acid composition.

    Our hypothesis is that the incorporation fodder in place of grass hay will increase milk production and increase milk solids (protein and fat) due to the higher digestibility.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.