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

    Proposal summary:

    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. 

    Barley sprouted fodder is a tool available to animal producers to provide a forage that is produced year-round.  The use of fodder is more expensive, but allows producers who are not able to produce their own forage because of land restrictions to feed a highly digestible forage in a small foot print.  Scientific evidence is lacking on the effects of feeding fodder to milking goats and sheep. Our objectives are to replace grass hay in a diet with fodder and determine the effects on milk production and milk composition and show for certain the effects of fodder on milk.  We will feed four groups of five Saanen does and four groups of five Friesian dairy sheep.  Four different diets, where the diet grass hay is replaced with fodder, will be fed.  The diets will be to each group in random order so that each group will be fed each diet.  This design will account for the variation of days-in-milk.  At the end of each treatment period (21 days) milk production will be measured.  In addition, milk composition (fat, protein, somatic cell count and fatty acid profile) will be determined.  We will present our findings at the Utah Dairy Goat Association meeting and at the Dairy Sheep of North America meeting.  The data will also be presented at the American Society of Animal Science national meeting and a manuscript will be prepared for publication in the Small Ruminant Research journal.  We plan to host an open house for Milky Hollow Creamery and have booths at farmer’s markets where we will talk about the diets we feed our animals. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    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 composition affects cheese 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.