Dr Jolly Kabirizi says green fodder is important feed source for goats, pigs and cattle, especially during the dry season when there is scarcity of green fodder. Inclusion of green fodder in rations of goats, pigs and cattle improves productivity and increases profit.
Benefits from hydroponics green fodder
-About 300-400kg per day of green fodder can be got from a space of 25 square metres. Only one person is needed to produce 400kg of fodder daily.
-Green hydroponic fodder has good palatability.
-The animals are guaranteed of a consistent supply of quality green fodder throughout the year irrespective of climate conditions and other natural disasters such as COVID-19.
-A farmer normally has to wait for at least three months before the ordinary fodder can be harvested and fed to the animals. The sprouting hydroponic system produces feed within 7-10 days.
-Only 1.5-2 litres of water is required to germinate 1kg of maize seed to get 5-10kg of green fodder.
– No need of weeding and storage facilities and no post-harvest losses as fodder is produce at the demand rate of livestock.
-Feeding green fodder improves supply of minerals and vitamins to dairy cows hence improves the general health of the animals.
-Hydroponics fodder is an organic feeding strategy—the fodder is free from antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, or herbicides.
– Low cost of production since there is no need of fuel for harvesting, transportation, and other field operational related costs.
– Hydroponic fodder can be fed to cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry.
Producing the fodder
There are several ways of producing the fodder. One is using a humid container, filled with trays and motorised temperature control system while the other is using locally improvised materials. The container is quite expensive because it costs over $30,000, however, the locally improvised system can cost as low as sh500,000 depending on the size.
Under the local system, a farmer sets up trays in a cool room, preferably constructed using timber and papyrus. It should have stands on which trays carrying the seeds are placed. After setting the trays, a farmer waters them at least three times a day before and after they sprout. Each tray should carry at least 1kg of seeds.
After 7-8 days, the fodder should be ready for feeding. The fodder slabs from the tray are cut into small pieces and wilted for about 3 hours before feeding it to the livestock, so it is easier for the animals to eat the fodder properly. The fodder is fed to livestock along with other feed and dry fodder from the total quantity of fodder. We offer about 25kg/cow of green maize hydroponic fodder to milking cows as a supplement.