Sprouted grain fodder is an increasingly popular fresh-feed alternative for all types of livestock. In general, fodder contains good protein levels while providing good sources of essential nutrients in a form that is easier for most ruminants to digest. Sprouting the seeds converts the stored starch into easily accessible carbohydrates.
There are numerous articles available on the benefits, both nutritionally and financially of fresh fodder, and there has been much discussion over the past few years on this topic.
Growing fodder comes with its challenges.
- Most fodder is grown hydroponically, with just water. This makes the final nutrient quality of the fodder dependent on the nutrient quality of the seed it is sprouted from. Deficient seed will produce deficient fodder.
- The hydroponic operations are very sensitive to mold and other pathogens, especially since they don’t have the beneficial microbes of the soil to keep pathogens in control. The pathogens are already present on the seed, since they are naturally occurring, and without strict temperature and humidity controls, they can easily and quickly proliferate.
A year or so ago, Bio Minerals Technologies was approached by a local seed dealer that was selling large volumes of fodder barley. We were asked to help solve the mold problems that so many of their buyers were experiencing, since it is virtually impossible to completely remove latent mold spores from the seed.
We started a series of experiments and very quickly determined that a very small amount of our Food Grade Probiotic and Fermentation culture in the fodder system’s water tank would easily keep mold at bay. We successfully grew multiple batches of fodder, in the same trays, without sterilizing the trays in between, all without any mold. The fodder was clean, green, with beautiful white root mats. It looked good enough for us to eat (which we sometimes did).
Since the mold issue was so easy to solve, we decided to explore the nutritional content of the finished fodder, as measured by Brix readings. Since fodder is grown with so much water, it makes Brix readings a little difficult to standardize. The high volume of water in the roots and shoots dilutes the readings, so we first had to establish a baseline. Our initial tests measured a consistent range of between 2-2.5% Brix.
We always measured the plants directly from the growing trays, squeezing 3-4 readings from a single sample. We kept the highest reading from each sample and discarded the rest. We pulled samples from each mat in the test trays.
Once we had our baseline, we tried various methods to increase the Brix readings of the finished fodder. We tried pre-soaking the seed in several different mineral solutions, without any significant changes. We tried applying foliar sprays once the sprouts were up, but since our system sprayed from above, it washed the foliar off before the plants could really absorb any of it.
In the end, the solution was a simple as our mold solution. We put a small amount of liquid mineral 75 into the fodder system water tank along with the Probiotic culture. The result was an increase in the Brix readings to 4.5-5% Brix. We doubled the dissolved sugars in the plants, indicating greater nutrient activity and content.
The amounts needed to control the mold and increase the mineral nutrition of your fodder are very small and are put into the watering tank daily:
Bio Minerals Technologies Food Grade Probiotic and Fermentation Culture: 4 fl oz of culture for every 15 gallons of water in the tank (e.g. 45 gallon tank would require 12 fl oz of culture).
Bio Minerals Technologies Ag Grade Liquid Mineral 75: 1 fl oz of liquid minerals for every 15 gallons of water in the tank (e.g. 45 gallon tank would require 3 fl oz of liquid minerals).
Every system is a little bit different. If you have severe mold problems with your fodder system, you can use a higher concentration of culture to bring it under control. Once the mold is controlled, gradually drop back to the prescribed rate. If the mold reappears, just increase the culture again until it goes away.
Would you like some help with your fodder system? Call us today at 435-753-2086 and let us help you improve the quality of your fodder.