Hydroponic Fodder System For Goats:
Introduction Hydroponic Fodder for Goats:- Well, as we all know the feed / fodder / forage is one of the major components of goat farming and the fodder management is a key factor in successful and profitable goat farming. Green fodder plays major role in feed of milch animals, thereby providing required nutrients for milk production and health of the dairy animals. Commercial goat farmers should have enough land to grow green fodder crops such as hybrid grasses and legume crops. When we grow green fodder crops in open fields, it requires labour and other costs to produce the forage in our field. For healthy goat rearing, the fodder should have good nutrients as well. In many places, due to climatic conditions or non-availability of land succulent grass is not available for goats throughout the year in many regions in India. This condition forces to think of different system to produce green fodder for goats throughout the year irrespective of climatic conditions and land availability. This will (hydroponic fodder system) drastically reduce the land cost, feed cost and provides nutrient fodder throughout the year. Today, we are going to talk about hydroponic fodder production system which is different from the conventional fodder production system.
- What is Hydroponic Fodder? It is a system in which green fodder or plants are grown in nutrients rich solutions instead of soil. In this system of growing, plants require sunlight, nutrients, and water. This is very much possible providing all required inputs to grow green fodder in hydroponic system without soil under controlled environment (like small green house). One can easily build the hydroponic system on their own or can buy a hydroponic machine to grow green fodder for goats. In hydroponic system, corn / maize, oats, barley, wheat grass, rice / paddy saplings, sorghum can be grown successfully for goats. Goats can use the fodder grown in this system will have grans, roots, stems, and leaves where as in conventionally grown fodder, only stems and roots are used.
Need for Hydroponic Fodder for Goats:- Most of the small scale goat farmers many not have enough land to grow green fodder and even they may not get the fodder throughout the year in conventional system of growing. Even some farmers may not bear irrigation cost required for green fodder production for goat farming. In this situation, goat farmers can utilize highly efficient and nutrient system of growing green fodder for goats hydroponically. By providing nutrient feed in goats on regular basis using hydroponic system will result high yield of milk in dairy goats and quick and healthy meat production in meat goats.
Advantages of Hydroponic Fodder for Goats:- If you are planning for commercial goat farming, you must consider this system due to the following advantages and benefits.
- Saving water in goat fodder production: It requires just 2 to 3 liters water to produce 1kg of green forage/fodder when compared to 60-75 liters to conventional system of fodder production. Water wastage can be prevented in hydroponics by recycling to grow the fodder.
- Land in goat fodder production: Hydroponics greenhouse requires marginal land to erect the system of 10 meters x 5 meters land for 650 kg green fodder / day/ unit, in comparison to 1 hectare land for conventional fodder growing.
- Less labour in goat fodder production: Hydroponic system requires less labour work say 2 to 3 hours/day where as conventional fodder production requires whole day to harvest the fodder.
- Less growing time for goat fodder: In hydroponic system, it requires just 1 week (7 days) to get nutritious fodder from seed germination to fully grown plant of 30 cm height. Biomass conversion ratio is as high as 8 to 9 times to traditional fodder grown for 60-75 days.
- Growing fodder throughout the year: Irrespective of climatic conditions and other restrictions, fodder for goats can be grown all around the year to meet the demand and supply.
- High nutrients: Hydroponic system facilitates the growth of highly nutritious fodder as compared to conventional fodder production. This very much required for dairy goats and quick meat production of commercial goat farming.
- Natural feed for goats: Hydroponics is a natural system of growing fodder for goats. There is no use of pesticides in this system hence it is free from contamination of milk and milk related products.
- Losing less fodder: Every part of fodder (grans, roots, stems and leaves) is consumed by goats without losing any feed produced from hydroponics.
How to Set up Hydroponic System for Goats:- There are two options for goat farmers; setting up their own hydroponic system or buy a hydroponic machine.
It is very simple to grow fodder for goats in this system. The process consists only soaking of seeds in water and nutrient solutions for few days and leaving it for seed germination under controlled environment (providing sunlight/ temperature and moisture).
- Components of Hydroponic Fodder System:
- Hydroponic plastic trays.
- Rack or stand to keep trays.
- water sprinkling setup
- Greenhouse shade cloth.
Setting up a hydroponic fodder system for goats: Select the site / land where we want to setup hydroponic system based on quantity of fodder requirement. After selecting the land, it’s time for giving it a greenhouse shape and greenhouse shade cloth is needed for fencing the area. The system setup requires a rack to keep fodder trays and automated water sprinklers which can be used for sprinkling water on trays frequently maintain the temperature for faster germination of fodder seeds. Use wooden or bamboo racks to minimize the cost.
Hydroponic Fodder – Steps involved:
- Step #1 – Day 1: Select quality seeds/grains for hydroponic green fodder. You can select maize, wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn. Take 1 kg of grains / seeds and divide it in 2 parts. Half kg of seeds in each tray and clean the grains from dead seeds or broken seeds. Grains should be washed with the solution of sodium hypochlorite and leave the grains for half hour (30 minutes) in the solution. After draining the grains, soak them in fresh water for whole day (24 hours).
- Step #2 – Day 2: Soaked seeds should be drained properly and left them for 5 hours in open air before placing in the tray and keep the tray in the rack for 2 days (48 hours) to allow the germination process.
- Step #3 – Day 3: After seed germination, frequent water sprinkling is required for growth of the fodder and proper sunlight/temperature should be maintained. You can leave the sprouted seeds in the tray for 5 to 6 days and provide regular and frequent water sprinkling. Once the fodder reaches certain height, you can take it directly from the tray and feed the entire plant to your goats. Don’t forget to take the fodder with roots. Initially, your goats may not like the taste, combine with other fodder until the goats are habituated to hydroponic fodder.
Hydroponic Fodder – Nutrient comparison of goat fodder: – The following table compares the nutrients of conventionally grown fodder with fodder produced in hydroponics.
|Nutrients||Conventional Green Fodder (Maize / Corn)||Hydroponic Green Fodder (Maize / Corn)|
|Nitrogen Free Extract||51.79||66.78|
|Acid Insoluble Ash||1.42||0.35|
Bottom Line:- Hydroponically grown grass or fodder is an excellent source of nutrients and minerals which can serve as best feed for more milk in dairy goats and healthy weight gain in commercial meat goat farming.