Evaluating the feasibility, effectiveness and challenges of sprouted grains on grazing dairy farms

2014 Annual Report for ONE14-224

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,503.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:

Evaluating the feasibility, effectiveness and challenges of sprouted grains on grazing dairy farms


Two dairy farms in Pennsylvania are participating in this study designed to evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness and challenges of using a sprouted grain system with a third providing technical input and data as someone who used but has discontinued use of fodder. Data collection has begun on both farms actively using fodder. One farm has a homemade system, the other has a purchased sprouting system. We have learned that increased milk production is not the only reason to implement a sprouted grain system. There are other perceived animal health benefits (such as reduced somatic cell counts) that may make sprouted grains more attractive to farmers to improve milk pay price. However, we are trying to determine whether the increased cost of sprout production, especially labor, makes these systems feasible. Each farm has resource challenges and opportunities that impact their ability to utilize sprouts in their rations. Our goal is to collect data and later interview the farmers to understand their reasoning for utilizing sprouted grains as well as to analyze feed and milk production/composition as well as evaluate the economic feasibility of these systems. Data collection will continue into 2015.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The overall objective of this project is to help other dairy farmers understand the opportunities and challenges to adopting a sprouted barley system to make an educated decision on whether to install a system on their own farm. Trends may also help researchers understand what they can do to develop more controlled studies in the future.

The goal of this project was to collect monthly data for 1 year from 2 dairy farms utilizing sprouted barley to evaluate the philosophy, animal response, economics, and challenges of utilizing a sprouted barley system. Two dairy farms were identified and visited in October 2014 (see Milestones for explanation of delayed start). Monthly data collection started in December 2014 and will continue for 12 months into 2015. Data collected includes: milk sample from the bulk tank; sample of all feeds/pasture/fodder fed to the cows for nutritional analyses; milk production data from bulk tank receipts; and information from the farmer on feed ration, herd management, fodder management and any other pertinent information. Additional economic and production information will be collected from a third farm that used but has since discontinued use of fodder. The goal for the latter part of 2015 and early 2016 will be to summarize this information to develop an educational case study narrative of the farms for distribution to farmers and farm professionals. A peer-reviewed journal article will also be developed for dissemination to the scientific community.


  • September 2014- Survey was completed for participating farmers.
  • October 2014- 2 farms (Korie Yoder and Alvin Peachey of Allensville, PA) were identified and visited as potential participants. These farms are different than the ones identified on the proposal. One (Dwight Stoltzfoos) is no longer feeding fodder but wishes to provide input on philosophy, challenges and feasibility of the project. He has excellent records (economic and animal production) which will be a valuable asset to this project. The other farmer (John Stoltzfus) was not used in the study as we found farmers that were much closer to us, thereby saving a lot of travel time.
  • November 2014- both farmers agreed to participate in the study after taking time to think it over and ask questions (both farmers are Amish and had many questions for us, and, as expected, communication was slow).
  • December 20
  • 14- the first on-farm samples were collected, with monthly samples to follow.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Initiation of this project was delayed until late August 2014 when the actual agreement was put into place between UVM and USDA-ARS. However, so far, we have learned of some new reasons why farmers may implement fodder that we had not heard before (i.e. decreased somatic cell count). While we may not be able to directly evaluate these reasons due to the design of this study as well as budget limitations, we will incorporate as much of the information into our report and recommendations as we can.


Korie L. Yoder

113 Swarey Lane
Allensville, PA 17002
Alvin Peachey

12337 Metzville Lane
Allensville, PA 17002
Office Phone: 7174836382
Dwight Stoltzfoos

[email protected]
SpringWood Organic Farm
1143 Gap Road
Kinzers, PA 17535
Office Phone: 7172781208
Website: http://www.springwoodfarm.com/