BENEFITS OF HYDROPONIC GREEN FODDER
General Benefits of Hydroponic Green Fodder
• The rapid, year-round production of fresh green feed is the main advantage of this hydroponic system.
• The green feed is highly palatable and both ruminants and monogastrics have greatly benefited from the introduction of the freshly grown, nutritious green feed in their daily diet.
• In terms of protein and energy, the contribution of green feed to the animal’s ration is tremendous. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and growth factors. Growth factors are protein molecules that are normally present in minute amounts in the animal’s bones, muscles, fat and most other tissues. There are several types of growth factors and their generic function is to induce mitosis (cell growth) in tissues.
• In many natural grass species, the protein content is relatively low and growth factors are not present in veld grass. Rich sources of growth factors include green feed, lucerne meal, fish soluble and milk; however, the best sources are those that are fresh and unprocessed.
• The occurrence of respiratory conditions is greatly reduced, because the green, hydroponic green feed is dust-free.
• Because it is grown naturally, there are no antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or herbicides in the hydroponic green feed.
• The cause of most digestive and metabolic problems in ruminants is a grain-based diet. These problems can be solved by completely removing grain from the diet and feeding barley/oats green feed instead.
• In areas with poor or no grazing where farmers are heavily dependent on the rainfall, aeroponic green feed production is an attractive, profitable and financially viable alternative.
• Our recommendation is to produce barley/oats green feed hydroponically, because it is less expensive and highly nutritious.
Benefits to Animals
• Stimulates the immune response.
• Highly palatable and nutritious.
• Reduction in antinutritional factors.
• Reduces feeding costs.
• Improves general fertility, conception rates and reproductive capacity.
• Improves appearance of coat or fleece.
• Increases stocking capacity.
• Increases digestibility of nutrients.
• Improves general animal health and disease resistance – a healthier animal requires less veterinary care.
• Increases newborn survival rate.
• Maximum performance is achieved on less protein due to better assimilation and digestibility of daily feed.
• Has an alkalising effect on the body (Shipard, 2005).
• Detoxifies the blood and strengthens the liver (Shipard, 2005)
• Guaranteed year-round green feed supply, irrespective of environmental conditions.
• No long-term storage of large quantities of feed is necessary, therefore there is no nutrient loss, no fire hazard and no feed becoming rancid or mouldy.
• In the controlled environment the feed output can be regulated and controlled to fulfil livestock needs.
• The systems are labour- and cost-effective due to the small area required.
• 1 kg of dry barley/oats seed yields between 7 - 10kg of green feed.
• The fibre-rich root system is also consumed – therefore there is no nutrient wasting.
• There is no more costly soil preparation, planting, irrigation, fertilising, mowing, windrowing, baling and hammer milling.
• The system can help the farmer produce 1 to 200 tons of aeroponically grown barley/oats green feed per day, 365 days a year.
• The green feed produced is highly palatable, nutritious and contaminant-free.
• There is almost no fuel costs related to cultivating and harvesting green feed.
• Vertical growing process allows the production of large volumes of fresh green feed on a fraction of the area required by conventional cultivation.
• There is no need for constant weed removal, fencing, additional council rates or road maintenance.
• The occurrence of respiratory problems in both labourers and animals is virtually non-existent, because the system's grow room is dust-free.
• There is no damage from insects or free-roaming animals.
• System ensures minimal water consumption , 1 kg of green feed only requires 2 to 3 litres of water during its 7-day growth cycle. Conventional growing of green feed requires around 80 litres to produce the same quantity of green feed.