ASSESSING YOUR OPTIONS

Destiny Ag is about you growing and grazing on your terms, so let us help you short-list a fodder growing system that suits you and your enterprise.

This process is about considering…

* a sensible direction for the future, that can reduce the volatility of your farm’s output;
* investing in the welfare of your livestock, and the quality of your production, and
* avoiding the need to chase feed, damage your land, sell your stock or lose your future cash flow.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Concessional loans and assistance schemes

Concessional farm loan schemes are currently available from Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland governments for drought support, and for increasing drought resilience and farm enterprise sustainability.

We have indications from the respective bodies that fodder growing systems are eligible under these programs, however please check your own eligibility for such funding.
1. NSWDrought Assistance Fund or Farm Innovation Fund
2. QLD – QRIDA Productivity Loans; First Start Loans or Sustainability Loans
3. Commonwealth (ALL states and territories) – Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) Farm Investment or Drought Assistance Loans

Assessing whether to grow your own fodder

Dry Matter Equivalence

Dry Matter Equivalence (DME) is often the starting point of feeding comparisons, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Based on NSW DPI data for DME, the indicative base ration of barley sprouts compared to hay is 3.6:1, i.e. you would require 2.8kg of sprouts to provide the same DME as 800g of hay – read on for other considerations.

Energy and Protein Equivalence

Using the ratio above (3.6:1) to match the DME, a ration of barley sprouts provides at least the same energy but 65-75% more protein than oaten or wheaten hay.
However, ruminants continue to require some roughage in their diets.

Run at or below capacity

Over the depreciable lifetime of a system, the annual difference between investing in a smaller system or a larger one will be relatively small.
In this light, it might be easier to err towards running a larger system below capacity (by seeding fewer trays) rather than choosing a smaller system that you soon come to outgrow.

Grow for fodder, storage or sale?

There’s little reason that excess fodder production can’t be sold, donated or stored. Note that purchasing a system for the explicit purpose of selling fodder may affect eligibility for concessional loans.
To be completely clear, Destiny AG has not yet conducted experiments with storing barley sprouts as silage or hay but intends undertaking this within the Growing Smarter community.

FEED COST COMPARISON

Below is a comparison for feeding barley sprouts compared to feeding oaten or wheaten hay.

Comparative costs of feeding sprouted barley compared to cereal hays

It’s important to note that the delivered cost of a tonne of barley grain and a tonne of hay is unlikely to be the same, due to differences in market price, availability and transport costs.

We’ve chosen standardised data for simplicity, but you can compare the nutritional characteristics of alternative feeds at the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

We’re trying to make a fair comparison (i.e. not hide material costs), so we’ve factored in notional operating and capital costs of investing in a 1000kg/day sprouting system.

AVAILABLE SYSTEMS

Hydroponic Fodder Growing Systems
Destiny Ag Containerised Hydroponic Fodder Growing System (prototype), usable anywhere with power and water

Having successfully operated our prototype system since 2018, we are currently designing an improved modular system that will significantly cut operating labour, and further reduce energy consumption.

Our new system will be completely scalable, suitable for lifestyle operators through to intensive graziers and producers. Daily output capacity will start at 60kg, and rise in multiples thereof.

The key objective remains to provide superior fodder whatever the weather – the key being to substantially improve the digestibility, nutritional uptake and animal health from conventional hand feeding.

A word of caution: You will find suppliers on the internet offering “fodder sprouting systems”. If you choose to purchase a system that “seems too good to be true”, please be realistic for your own good:

Low costs up-front often arise from design and construction short-cuts. If you purchase a cheap system from overseas, you should factor-in ill-considered design, ongoing equipment failures and no recourse.