Author Topic: Fodder for Dairy  (Read 1974 times)

Offline Alpkäserei

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Fodder for Dairy
« on: November 19, 2012, 08:34:22 AM »
Presently, we have been running our cattle on strict grass and hay, with perhaps some mineral supplement.

However, we have been looking into the possibility of supplementing the diets of our animals with some type of fodder. This would allow us to use somewhat less acreage, and also give us some more direct control over milk quality (the weather in Indiana in the summer can be wild and unpredictable. You never know how good the grass will be in a given season)

There are a few requirements, however, for this.
-No straight grain. Corn is strictly off limits.
-No processed feeds. Obviously.
-No processed chemicals, other than the mineral supplements needed to account for local nutrient deficiencies.
-Nothing GMO at all.
-absolutely no silage

Now this all goes with another caveat.
Our herd is timed to dry out for the winter season. We are not producing cheese 12 months out of the year. During the off season, other fodder is permissible, including silage and grain, so long as this is removed from the diet at least 2 weeks prior to cheese production.

The question I have is this,
what are some ideas to use for fodder?
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 08:39:02 AM »
Maybe try sproutig whole seed in a fodder setup, can even put the minerals into the water for more bioavailability. You can also try the bag haylage method and use whatever greens are in your area.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 09:21:11 AM »
I had thought about the seed approach. This to me seems good. Adding the minerals to the water is a great idea as well.

One person had suggested duckweed, the bean like algae that grows on the surface of still ponds during the heat of the summer. I hear it makes a very nutritious fodder, and certainly there is plenty of it to be had. But I do wonder about continually removing it, if it will deplete the nutrients from the water or if runoff will keep it supplied.

One thing they do in the Alps is to take undesirable plants that grow on the mountainside, cut them off and boil them and save the solids that are left over and use it either as fodder or silage for the winter. 
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2012, 10:03:39 AM »
Sprouting seed fodder does take some temp control, so would need to be in an area that's heated in the winter. But you could get organic field run barley that way, would cost you something like $400-$600/ton for the seed.

With a haylage approach what you can do is cut down anything and everything leafy, use an inoculant (usually lactobacilli blend) to help ensure safety, and then double bag in trash bags. It's a third-world approach to making nutritious food that is easy to handle and works surprisingly well on a moderate scale. no need to fuss with moving huge haylage bags that way. Decent links

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/dairy/as1254w.htm
http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADQ897.pdf

duckweed collection seems like a lot of work.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 10:19:05 AM »
The work for duckweed cuts down sharply once you consider that we are in swamp country. Lots of it, easy to get at. You can just walk through many of the bogs and skim it off.

The haylage approach would be feasible, but only for the off season. Remember, no silage for the cheese.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 10:31:13 AM »
Right, it's just a way to get really cheap feed. Your only limit is what you can cut down or scrounge from nearby farmers. Regular weeds and grasses once fermented work pretty well. One solution I've seen for smaller producers is to get surplus 55 gal drums, the plastic open top ones with lids and buy the thick plastic liners for them. Around here, they go for $10-$15. Then stuff them full, add inoculant, seal off the plastic bag, put on the lid for extra protection and durability, and stack them up. Takes some equipment and help and a few days of work, but for the offseason, could work well.

One concern about swamp anything is what bad bugs might be in the water.
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 10:33:34 AM »
With duckweed harvested from swamps that have beaver you'd want to consider the parasite issues.  I think there are some single-celled critters and liver fluke.  you could monitor herd health with fecals, test the water or both?

There are a lot of fodder system set ups available and some offer dealerships that might cut your start up costs.  I have an Amish friend whose family sprouts all their feed grains using water with SeaCrop Minerals added.  I think SeaCrop is an Eco Ag product.  Their system is not to produce fodder but to just sprout the seeds to increase nutritional value. 

you could up your pasture and hay growth by spraying with a mix of raw milk (2-3 gallons per acre), SeaCrop and molasses.  Even just the raw milk will increase your growth.  Suggested a local hay dealer follow that practice and he took 5 cuttings of hay off his fields.  Called to tell me that hadn't known if it'd turn out to be worth it but got totally shocked by results.  I think it was dairy farmers out your way that came up with the raw milk idea.

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2012, 11:18:54 AM »
Our family was in the feed business for years and years. We made our own feeds and sold them, grinding and mixing and processing and all that good stuff. So I have a pretty good background on animal nutrition, and my father knows a whole lot on the subject. So with that background, we probably wouldn't be using anybody's packaged nutrients, but we'd mix our own based on our knowledge of the local conditions etc. (for example, we know that cattle locally require extra selenium due to a significant deficiency. Our feeds for local farmers actually put more selenium in than you were legally supposed to, but they let us because they knew the issue)
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 04:07:39 PM »
Also, regarding duckweed (not really too hot about the idea myself, but my brother wants to consider it) I should say, our swamps are peat swamps. This is a highly acidic and anaerobic environment where not too many things can grow.

But when it comes right down to it, I don't really want to do this, so thanks for giving me a good excuse!
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2012, 02:41:36 PM »
Right now we are looking heavily into the idea of sprouted seed fodder systems.

We are looking at this as a grass substitute, rather than a grain substitute, at least to supplement our pasture diet until we can increase our acreage. This means that we will be giving minerals into the sprouts, as well as mixing a variety of seeds to get a beneficial yet natural vitamin source.

Also, we are looking into the possibility of mixing various herbal seeds together with the grains/grasses to modify the flavor of the milk being produced, in order to closer replicate an alpine diet.
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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2012, 06:16:29 PM »
Hippy goats eating bean and alfalfa sprouts!  Awesome   ;D

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Fodder for Dairy
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2012, 05:25:19 PM »
Hey you cows out there! Cut that out! It ain't proper!

No beans and alfalfa though, maybe wheat grass/barley grass, with some of Alp's special herbs  ;)
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