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Growing Hydroponic Fodder (Forage) – A Full Guide

Hello gardeners, today we came up with a topic of growing Hydroponic Fodder (Forage) and construction hydroponic system for fodder production. Green fodder is necessary to feed livestock but the reduced availability of land for cultivation and lack of water has been a reason for its sparse availability and alarming prices. It has become difficult to produce required quantity green fodder throughout the year also; the lack of quality fodder slow down the growth production and hampers reproduction of livestock.

In this writing, you will learn how to Grow Hydroponic Fodder in easy steps it will help you to solve green fodder problem easily.

A Guide to growing Hydroponic Fodder

Hydroponic fodder is raised by growing seeds without soil, and with the right amount of nutrient-enriched water, within six-seven days the seeds are sprouted the seedlings will be up to 30-35 cm tall and provide a highly nutritious fodder to your livestock that too effortlessly.

Hydroponic Fodder in Trays.
Hydro Fodder in Trays,.

Advantages of hydroponic fodder

Let’s put some light on the benefits of raising fodder crops using a hydroponic system

1) Nutrient Value

Hydroponics fodders are known to have more nutrient than the traditional fodder dry food or grain.

2) Time to grow

Compared to traditional fodder grown by a conventional method often needs up to two months to grow on the other hand you can grow hydroponic fodder in just one week which saves a lot of time and you can be ready for next cycle.

3) Less water requirement

Compared to conventional fodder production it requires less water for hydroponic fodder production as it minimizes the water loss. As approximated 3 to 4 liters of water is required to grow one kilogram of hydroponic fodder on other for traditional fodder needs approximate 70- 100-liter water required.

4) Easy daily production

Hydroponic fodder can be produced on a regular basis throughout the year indoors as well as in outdoor conditions.

5) Chemicals or pesticides

It does not need any chemicals or pesticides for it’s growing so be stress-free you need to worry about the harmful effects of the chemicals.

6)  Less workforce and Transport cost

It calls for less workforce and transportation cost. As most of the farmers can grow hydroponic green fodder near to the livestock shade as it offers portability and ease of growing operations.

7) Consistency of feed

One of the major obstacles being faced by many fodder producers is the variability/inconsistency of plant species within their field, due mainly to seasonal fluctuation. By feeding hydroponic fodder, one is sure of the quality and quantity of fodder that is being consumed. This consistency of feed can lead to better-tasting end products of consistent quality, which is one of the major goals. Similarly consistency in feed also increases the quality of meat and other products of poultry. So undoubtedly hydroponic fodder production is a right way to substantially improve the quality of animal products.

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Construction of Hydroponic fodder system

To raise good quality fodder you have to be able to regulate the temperature and humidity. The fodder easily grows in semi-controlled environmental conditions with the temperature ranging from 15-32 °C and with a relative humidity of 80-85%.

Also, control light is required to grow fodder, so you will have to either buy or build a small shed net or a low-cost greenhouse.

  • According to your fodder quantity demand, you can build a Hydroponic fodder system yourself or you can buy different setups of varying sizes available in stores. To build this system it requires a little space indoors or outdoors, mostly farmer use 10 ft x10 ft shade net to grow Hydroponic fodder, and it is better to select shed net location near to the livestock shade because it becomes easy to feed and operate.
  • To permit ventilation to leave some open space between the roof and side walls at the site where you have placed your system. This will help you when the shed is well ventilated and airy, you can easily sustain the required range of temperature and humidity.
  • To raise quality hydroponic fodder, you required a medium-size tray of about 1.5 x 3 Ft. They must be made up of good material and strong enough to hold the weight of the fodder.
  • The seeds must be of high quality and grow media should be kept moist but not soggy
  • Use grow trays with holes to drain excess water or you can make 15-20 small size holes in trays for draining any excess water.

The hydroponic fodder production process

Use only authentic and good qualities hydroponic fodder seeds  for hydroponic fodder production, avoid using broken or unhealthy seeds as these will not germinate and grow properly.

You can use maize, pulses, wheat, and horse gram seeds to raise hydroponic fodder for growing crop like pearl millet and sorghum seeds you need expertise because these sprouted leaves may contain high rates of anti-nutritional factors that may harm your livestock. Maize hydroponic fodder pdf can also be read for complete information.

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Most growers use Maize seeds to grow hydroponic fodder because of ease in growing. In cold climatic condition wheat and oats seed are suited while in hot climatic condition maize seeds are appropriate for hydroponic fodder production.

Feeding of Hydroponic Green Fodder

Within six to seven day of seeding fodder will be ready to harvest, take out hydroponic fodder trays from the hydroponic system and cut into small pieces before feeding it to the livestock, so it is convenient for the animals to eat the fodder properly.

Avoid keeping the fodder more than nine to ten days in the trays because thereafter the nutrient value of fodder starts to degrade slowly and fiber will start to develop.

Give this fodder to the livestock with regular food and other dry fodder. Farmers prefer to give the combination of half a hydroponic fodder and half fodder or dry fodder this maintains the diet and ensures the constant supply of hydroponic fodder.

Hydroponic fodder is very soft and nutritious and tasty, and the resulting animals enjoy it because of the palatability. Hydroponic fodder cost per kg is also cost effective compared to the conventional method excluding the installation costs.

Major disadvantages of hydroponics

There are few points of hydroponic fodder disadvantages  as follows:

  • Loss in total dry matter: A number of studies have reported that sprouting resulted in 7-47% loss in Dry Matter from the original seed after sprouting for a period of 6-7 days of the growth; it is primarily due to respiration during the sprouting process. Seed soaking activates enzymes that switch starch stored in endosperm to simple sugar, which produces energy and gives off carbon dioxide and water, resulting in loss of DM with a shift from starch in the seed to fiber and pectin in the roots and green shoots.
  • Lack of knowledge and awareness about hydroponics.
  • Setup of the hydroponic system is costly.

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