The Fodder Fix to Exorbitant Hay Prices

Drought is the biggest enemy to livestock owners. It causes a scarcity of feed & prices rise to the point that farmers cut way back on how many animals they can carry through the winter. We had a bad year in Michigan & decent hay is going for $8/bale. Who can afford that? There is a way to cut your hay consumption in half and feed livestock cheaply.

Fodder is grass grown from oats, wheat, barley or rye seeds. It only takes 7-8 days from seed to maturity & requires no soil to grow. It is easily grown in the house; mine is in my basement. I buy non GMO seeds from a local farmer and pay $8.25/50# of oats & wheat. This will yield about 250# of fodder costing roughly $0.03/pound compared to $0.16/pound for hay at current prices. I can grow enough to feed 6 Shetland ewes, 8 butcher lambs, and a colony of 5 adult rabbits (2 of which are nursing litters) plus 3 fryer bunnies. A bucket of sprouted oats is fed to 15 chickens. We raised 5 pot belly pigs almost exclusively on oat fodder & they taste amazing.

Fodder & oat sprouts ready to feed

Our fodder growing system is simple and requires twice daily maintenance.

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FarmTek Fodder Pro 2.0 Feed Systems


The Fodder Fix to Exorbitant Hay Prices — 13 Comments

  1. You are lucky if you can find hay for $8 a bale. Alfalfa here is $14.95 a bale for good hay, $12.95 for #2 and forage hay is @12.95. Last summer good alfalfa was $16.95 a bale. Straw is $6.95 a bale.

  2. This is such a great idea! I can’t wait to try this for my chickens!

    Thanks for Sharing! I Feel for so many farmers with stock this year. The drought was horrible. I must say I noticed it more up in the Northern part of Ontario, where there is little less pasture for growing hay.

  3. Yikes, Tombstone! I thought $8/bale was high.
    Barbara, I’m going to try feeding some fodder to the chickens & see how it goes. I think it’s more cost effective to feed fodder than it is to feed sprouts. I tried it last spring & they didn’t like it to much, but I was leaving it in one big mat. I’ll pull it apart this time & see if that makes it easier for them to eat. Good luck, I hope your chickens like it.
    Thanks for commenting.

  4. Whew, we aren’t paying that much for hay, more like $6 a bale. Alfalfa doesn’t grow around here though so it’s either impossible to find or out the roof. The fodder idea though is excellent! I’ve been reading about sprouting grains form goats, but would like to try this as well. I know both goats and chickens would go nuts for this stuff.

  5. Leigh, I also like the health aspects for my animals. It feels like such an accomplishment. I think, “Wow, I grew this.”
    Dana, today I hope to write more about how this is done. It’s really not hard.

  6. Wow try $22 for a bale of alfalfa. And it’s not even good. That’s what we pay here in California

  7. We first heard about producing feed this way through Fodder Solutions. They are a company located in Australia. Their system is great, but costs a bundle, easily $10,000-$20,000, depending on the size.

    We have tried sprouting both Painted Mountain corn and barley as fodder for our chickens and Nubian goats. At first, neither group would have anything to do with either the corn or barley.

    The chickens are now happily eating the barley, as long as I tear it into small bunches. They still don’t care for the corn.

    The goats, on the other hand, who before would turn their heads away, now really like it. We thank Miss Piggy, who was our first female to really give this fodder a try, and led the charge, so to speak.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about how you grow the fodder in the trays you show in your photos.

  8. My experience is very similar to yours with the animals turning away from it. Tearing it up really helped.
    Are your chickens eating barley sprouts or is it green fodder? Mine seemed to prefer sprouts.
    Thanks for commenting.

  9. I usually let the barley get about 3 inches tall and then feed it to my chickens. That way there are still identifiable barley grains. The chickens seem to prefer it this way, which is fine with me.

  10. I appreciate your input, just got back from the local fee store and spent$27.00 for some OK Timothy Hay. Am starting my barley trials, and have been fighting some mold issues, but when I get everything correct I hope to save a bundle as well as provide beneficial greens.

  11. Hay that costs $0.16 is still cheaper than fodder that costs $0.03 per pound. Livestock are fed on a dry matter basis. Hay is 88 percent dry matter. The fodder is 12 percent dry matter. The hay provides energy (TDN) at a cost of $0.31 per pound; the fodder, 0.35 per pound. The original grain that is used for sprouting would be the cheapest source of energy. At $6 per bu, barley grain provides TDN for $0.17 per lb. The increase in weight from sprouting is primarily water.

  12. I’ve successfully fed this for one year to sheep, pigs, rabbits & chickens.I’ve saved money & fed a higher quality food. Hay consumption has dropped significantly. None of the animals get commercial feed or pellets. All reproduce well & present a respectable carcass at slaughter. The sheep & angora rabbits also produce a wool crop. My animals thrive on this diet. Fresh grass is more natural, nutritious & digestible than hay.
    I understand what you are saying about the moisture content. The same can be said of pasture yet it is the food most grazers prefer.
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating.