Monday, December 15, 2014

Barley Fodder

Since people are curious, I thought I would post about Barley fodder and see if I could answer all of the questions.

"A Livestock Feed Sprouter system inside a 20 foot x 48 foot building can produce 2000 pounds of highly nutritious fresh green grass sprouts daily which will feed 100 full grown cattle or horses. Units are also available from 25 pounds daily (good for 1 horse or cow or equivalent) on up to Multi-Ton units."

SQA invested 60k in their hydroponic system for growing barley fodder. It is pretty good sized as evidenced by the enclosure used to help maintain the growing environment.

 The black thing is a shelter for the hydroponic tank inside and helps maintain the temperature of the hydroponic pod, which is the size of at least a semi-trailer, maybe a little bigger.

"These fresh green grass mats are also very good for hogs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, alpacas, llamas, deer, etc. A 1200 square foot building or unit can provide the same or better nutritional feed for livestock than 200 plus acres of pastures."

 This is what the unit inside that black housing looks like. Trays with barley grain are loaded on one side each day and a full grown barley fodder is harvested from the other side each day.

"It will require 2 – 2.5 pounds of grain daily for each full grown horse or cow plus a small amount of low quality hay or straw for the roughage needed by the livestock’s digestive system. 1 pound of grain at approximately 30% nutritional value becomes 8 pounds of sprouts at approximately 80% nutritional value. The tender, moist, easily digestible and highly nutritious green grass is better for livestock than grain and hay. Growing sprouts uses up to 99% less land, 98% less water, & 50% less energy than conventional farming practices, all while reducing transportation costs in feed."

Looking at these calculations, Ashke is getting about 2.5 lbs of barley grain, which is grown into 18 lbs of barley fodder, a day. Additionally, he is also being fed four flakes of good, tested quality, grass hay, plus his mash with supps. The BO told us that the horses on pasture board will leave their fields to come eat the barley fodder. 

"6-8 day old fresh green grass sprout fodder is a very nutritious and economical feed for all grazing animals including horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, rabbits, zebras, etc. for the following reasons:
  • The tender young sprouts are very easy for all livestock, including sick or old livestock to eat.
  • The hard shell surrounding most grain is gone
  • The enzyme inhibitor present in all grains is gone
  • Sprouts are at their height of nutritional value at this stage
Feeding barley fodder offers these benefits to livestock:
  • Reduced occurrence of digestive diseases, such as colic and bloat
  • Stimulated immune system
  • Naturally balanced with essential nutrients
  • High in fiber, energy and protein
  • Rich in enzymes
  • Low acid content
  • Highly digestible"

By growing the barley grain into barley fodder, the sugar present in the grain is converted to protein. Additionally, the barley fodder is very wet with something like 78% of it is water. It is also supposed to provide the omega vitamins that are missing in dried grass (which I supplement Omega Max to supply)

"Other benefits observed that are associated with feeding Barley sprouts;
  • Properties known to reduce the incidence of ulcers, inflammatory laminitis, tie-up, compaction & colic
  • Reduce recovery time after hard work
  • Exceptional growth rates in yearlings
  • Stimulates appetite, especially during conditions of heat stress
  • Fed daily, maintains a horse’s well being by aiding the digestive process and supplying protein and high levels of cool energy. This allows a horse in work to maintain the bulk essential for an extended campaign
  • Improvement in general appearance and coat condition
  • High in digestible fiber, which is digested into volatile fatty acids & is readily absorbed into the bloodstream as a source of energy
  • Sprouts contain higher concentrations of the freely availably minerals important for animal nutrition, compared to grain prior to sprouting
  • Helps replace essential fluids lost in work and increases hydration, especially in regions where heat causes excessive loss of fluids from sweating
  • Provide essential amino acids and vitamins which encourages early breeding (D Cuddeford. PhD Royal School of Veterinary Studies)
  • Improved behavior
  • Higher milk production in lactating mares"
Information provided by

Ashke wasn't sure about it the first night, but since he settled in, he has eaten the fodder first thing and seemed to really enjoy it. I don't think there is another barn in the state that feeds barley fodder. I can't wait to see how it improves both his coat and his energy level. It could give us a competitive advantage in an endurance ride if it improves recovery that much.


  1. Thanks for posting! I've been researching it ever since you commented about it on my blog and I'm thinking about trying it on a very micro level to start. Apparently it's possible to build one of these systems in your garage or basement and you can grow enough for one horse in a small footprint.

    1. They do sell the small one to two horse units for $1600, but I'm thinking you might be able to set one up for less than that, but you would run the risk of perhaps not supplying the correct mix of water, light and temp. I would be curious to know the outcome of your experiment.

    2. You could grow it similar to how people grow wheat grass: just have a rotating set of trays on some sort of cart. I almost wish I needed it because I love to play with stuff like this!

    3. Just a follow up in case anyone is interested - I did find this post on a DIY set-up for under $100: I also did a search on EBay for "fodder system" and found 1-2 horse systems in the $300-400 range.

  2. Very cool. I am lucky that Major has a full-time grass pasture, but this looks like a really great alternative. I will be interested in seeing if Ashke's condition gets even better (he already looks great)

  3. Hell, *I* want to eat barley fodder now!

    And good to know that the single-double horse units are relatively affordable!! I could definitely swing that in another year or so financially!

    Thanks for this post. I'm starring it for later within Feedly as a reference.

  4. This is awesome! Do you have to start them on it slowly like introducing them to a grass pasture for the first time? Is there any danger of founder? This is so cool. I wish I had access to it. I suck at keeping plants alive so I don't know if I would be good at doing it on a my scale. It might be worth a shot though. Where do they buy barley?