Fodder Fridays

Iowa, Fodder and S.T.EM. December 09 2016, 0 Comments

This year at the Iowa State Fair, we were excited to introduce fodder to the Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds.  With the recent announcement that Iowa's long-time Governor Terry Branstad will be the new US Ambassador to China, Iowa will now have its first female governor.  Congratulations Lieu. Governor Reynolds!  

Iowa Governer Reynolds

We met Lieu. Governor Reynolds during STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Day at the Iowa State Fair, and were proud to be one of the many STEM focused booths all around the Fair that day.  The Governor's STEM Advisory Council http://www.iowastem.gov/ and the Governor's Office have worked hard to make STEM education in Iowa a top priority, and we are confident that Governor Reynolds will continue this important effort.  

A FodderWorks F Series system is an excellent, interactive teaching tool, and can be used in a variety of settings in formal and non-formal education.  Below is an example of how a FodderWorks system helps demonstrate the various STEM areas. There would also be additional STEM areas demonstrated with our fully automated fodder systems.  

Science: 

Biology: Watching a seed sprout - Barley seed to sprouted feed in 6 days

Chemistry: Sprouted Barley Nutrient Content Analysis

Nutrition: Animal Health Improvement measurement

Technology: 

Computer Systems: Electronic Computerized Control Panel

Engineering:

Drafting and Design:  Design and Build a system 

Environmental:  Low Water Consumption and Reduced Land Usage for Feed

Mathematics:

Calculating:  Feed Rations and Operational Costs / Savings

 

We look forward to continuing to work with all those in government and in the education sector to help fodder become more widely known as a healthy, sustainable, and economic solution for livestock agriculture in the US and all around the world.

We'll look forward to seeing you next time,

 

Justin Akers

FodderWorks Midwest LLC

Your FodderWorks Dealer in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska


SB 1383 - A new page in the book of fodder? October 31 2016, 0 Comments

I truly enjoy fall here in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California.  The leaves on the ground, rain (finally) to quench the dry ground and that morning chill.  After all, my entire 60 years is here in this area.  I guess I'm entering in to the fall of life myself.   How things have changed.  Growing up in the feed business with my dad, driving hay trucks in the fields at 10 then working in the feed store since 14.   Raising all types of livestock; beef, swine, poultry, horses, pets, even helping mom with her chinchillas. 

Here I am "chasing the dream"  working in the feed business and building fodder systems.  At Fodderworks we are actively engaged in "fine tuning" our sprouting systems and learning more of the benefits of feeding fresh, green living feed.   The most common report is the condition of the animals being fed fodder.  Shiny, lustrous coats, improved hoof conditions and better performance in production.  

Recently, we have encountered a new area of study.  With the passage of SB 1383 here in California, which intends to regulate and reduce methane production in cattle, we have embarked on the path to determine if there is a reduction in methane production when fodder is included in the ration.  There is reason to believe that this may be the case and if so,  not only do we help meet the requirements of the newly passed legislation, but quite possibly it can be accomplished with a net benefit to the producer, in increased herd production and decreased feed costs.  Sounds too good to be true, but it is worth the effort to find out.  It is time for our food producers to get a break.  And while I'm at it,  THANK YOU to all of those who do work diligently to produce the foods that we eat.   One of my greatest joys has been to sit around the dinner table and watch my children eat.  Now they have children and I still am grateful for the blessing of food, as I watch my grandchildren enjoying their meal.

You can see that there is more to fodderworks than meets the feed bunk.   Please, share your thoughts and experiences for all to benefit.   

Curt

Curt@simplycountry.net


Wintertime Fodder Production and Feeding October 21 2016, 0 Comments

It is a beautiful time of year here in the Midwest!  The leaves are turning from green to amber, the combines are rolling in the fields, and the sounds of cheering at the high school football games can be heard all over every small town on Friday nights.  But for Midwest livestock producers this time of year, our thoughts quickly turn to what’s coming next: WINTER! 

Many of you have asked about how fodder is produced and fed in the wintertime in colder climates.  YES, it is practical and feasible to feed fodder in the winter, and as a matter of fact, it is one of the best times of the year for your animals to have high quality, highly digestible nutrition.

So, how does it work?  With FodderWorks F series systems, the process starts at the factory, where the boxes are built with structural insulated panels to withstand harsh weather conditions.  Standard insulation packages have an R24 rating, but for extremely cold climates, the extra insulation package with R32 insulation can be a good option.  On our Southern Iowa farm, we have standard insulated F Series systems that keep temperature very well in the winter.  We have our fodder systems inside an unheated machine shed, which keeps them out of the cold winter wind (and also the hot summer sun!). 

The F Series Fodder Systems are designed to be outside, and even in the harshest climates they will withstand the elements.  However, if you’re in the “wind belt” of the US, like we are, you will enjoy fodder feeding time a lot more if you’re out of the winter wind.  Since the Fodder System is 70 degrees F year-round, it will be comfortable inside the system while you’re working, but if you step outside your warm Fodder System into a cold and windy environment, it won’t be nearly as enjoyable as it would be if you were out of the wind.  If you can, put the F series inside an unheated building (or a heated one if you have that option).  You’ll be glad you did, if you’re in a climate like ours.  Your system also will keep temperature easier all year 'round, saving you money on electricity.

The next step is making sure your water and drain connections are well insulated.  If you’ve put your F series system in a heated building, CONGRATULATIONS! You don’t have anything to worry about.  For those of us with fodder systems outside, or in unheated buildings, making sure the water connections stay thawed in the wintertime is important.  

Connecting an F Series Fodder System to a frost free water connection can be done a variety of ways.  Most use a connection coming up from the ground (below the frost line) in an insulated tube.  This would be installed in the same fashion as the water connection for a frost-free automatic livestock waterer; just slightly different because the water connection is on the side of F Series systems, not underneath.   Make sure you leave an access door near the fitting so you can make inspections and any repairs!

For the drain, make sure that, if possible, your discharge drain is located right below the outlet in the machine, so ice won’t form in the drain line.  If this isn’t possible in your situation, you can purchase heated drain lines (designed for RV’s / campers in wintertime environments). 

We can help talk you through various ways to hook up your system so it will keep running smoothly all winter. We will make sure you have the exact measurements of the machine before it arrives on your farm, so you can be ready to hook it right up to your connections!


But what about FEEDING fodder in cold weather?  Does it freeze?  Will the animals eat it? 

Our animals LOVE eating a warm, fresh feed all winter.  Fodder doesn’t freeze outside in the cold as fast as you might think.  It is 70 Degrees F when it comes out of the system, so it is best to feed it as soon as it is harvested.   Fodder will get stiff if left outside in the cold for hours, but most often the feed is long gone before that would ever happen!  Last winter, I fed our sheep small pieces of fodder on frozen ground; in 10 minutes after I scattered the fodder, I couldn’t find a trace of it anywhere.

Yes, fodder will eventually freeze solid if left outside in sub-freezing temperatures long enough, but the animals will still eat it!  It just takes them longer to eat a “foddersicle”. Especially with cattle, the heat from coming from their mouth and nostrils will quickly thaw the fodder they’re trying to eat (at least enough for them to chew it!)

Lastly, make sure YOU are ready for wintertime!  Fodder is a high moisture feed, and you’ll get a little wet working with it.  So in the winter, having a good pair of waterproof, insulated gloves is important.  I also have an insulated coat and bibs from Dan’s Hunting Gear LLC  http://danshuntinggear.com/  This is, hands down, the best outfit out there for this kind of job.  It is tough, won’t tear, and is super warm.  I won’t feed without it in the wintertime. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of wintertime fodder production and feeding! 

Look forward to being with you next time,

Justin Akers

FodderWorks Midwest LLC

Your FodderWorks dealer in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas


Selling Barley Fodder for Profit October 07 2016, 0 Comments

For the past 5 years we have been actively promoting and selling fodder systems.  During that time we've done our best to get the word out to the farmers and ranchers who could most benefit from using fodder as a feed source.

To date, more than 99% of our customers are using fodder on the farm for their own animals.  They have been featured on TV news stations, newspaper publications large and small and NPR Radio.  Those looking for an affordable and high quality feed have implemented fodder with great results.

Over the years however there has been another group of people who have called to ask about fodder.  They typically have no animals, little to no land and occasionally don't even have any agricultural experience!  So why would they need hundreds if not thousands of lbs of fodder each day?  They want to produce fodder and sell it in their local area.  There are all types of motivation for wanting to sell fodder.  Although some might be tempted with lofty financial rewards, I believe margins on livestock feed quickly weed them out.  That's not to say it can't be done, but I'll share some realistic numbers below.  

Experience

What good would this blog post be without some experience actually selling fodder?!  Interestingly enough, the local feed store has been in the Chittock family for over 50 years.  Fodder was introduced over 7 years ago on a small scale.  We've actually been selling fodder longer than we've been building fodder machines.  (It's the experience using fodder that has helped us perfect our systems.)  Production scaled up as customer interest grew from 110lbs per day, to a larger machine, up to 2 large machines.  Eventually some of the larger customers purchased their own fodder equipment and we settled on a single F1100 unit.  Keep in mind that if you're going to sell fodder, there's always a chance that one of your bigger customers will just buy their own machine.  The majority of people purchasing however have small backyard farms or "pets" they want to feed.  There are some exceptions of course, including people who don't have time to operate the machine or those running off grid without sufficient power.  Nevada County Free Range Beef is one such company that has been purchasing for several years on a consistent basis.  Owner Jim Gates swings by on a regular schedule to pick up his fresh fodder.  He knows how well his cows do on the feed and his customers are very happy with the quality of beef produced.  For the irregular customers, fodder is kept on an open rack in front of the store.


At the Simply Country feed store (located in Penn Valley and Grass Valley, California) fodder is sold by the "biscuit".  A single 18lb chunk of sprouts sells for $3.25 if conventional barley or $3.75 for organic.  Both are Non-GMO.  Customers like Jim Gates have a monthly agreement and get a discounted price.  Since fodder is best fed fresh, anyone you can commit on a regular basis is a good thing!  You can be sure that with the animals around the Simply Country feed store nothing goes to waste at the end of the day.

Karin Perkins of Rainman Fodder in Kingman, Arizona also sells fodder.  You can see details on their Facebook page.  As of October 6th, 2016 their price is $70/month per fodder biscuit - including local delivery!  There's really nothing that can compare to freshly sprouted feed delivered right to your door.  The closest customers receive fodder daily.  Those further out get deliveries on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Enough fodder is delivered to hold them over on the off days.  Kept in the proper conditions fodder can last a couple of days.  We recommend keeping it cool, in the open air, and avoid stacking for prolonged periods.  Remember that the sprouts are still growing and generating heat.  They must be cared for properly before feeding.

What are the numbers?

So how does selling fodder pencil out as a business opportunity?  Let's share some numbers from the Simply Country feed store:

  • F1100:  Seed use is 174lbs per day
  • Seed cost is 28 cents per lb, for a total of $48.72
  • Average power usage is .75KWH per fodder biscuit
  • Electricity usage is .16 per KWH. (We'll use this for a fair comparison, but the feed store has recently implemented a solar system, drastically cutting down the power costs for the store, and in turn the fodder machine.)
  • A well is used, so water costs not included in power are negligible.
  • The store has an employee (usually the most recent hire - it's easy to do!) run the machine and allows a generous 2 hour window each day.  Labor cost is .35 per fodder biscuit.
  • 12 cents per biscuit in power
  • 77 cents per biscuit in seed
  • Total biscuit cost (excluding fodder equipment purchase) is $1.24.
  • Total fodder biscuits produced per month is 1,890.

As the numbers will vary, let's make an assumption on our average customer for a day.  We have 63 fodder biscuits per day.  We'll assume 20 are on a contract basis at $2.33 per fodder biscuit.  40 biscuits are sold per day at $3.25.  (To simplify, we'll leave out organic fodder for now.)  The last 3 biscuits weren't sold.

  • 63 fodder biscuits cost us $78.12 to produce, regardless of what sells.
  • The initial 20 bring in $46.60
  • The last 40 bring in $130

Total Income:  $176.60

Net Profit after expenses:  $98.48 daily, or $2,954.40 per month.  This would easily cover a monthly payment on the machine.  ROI on the equipment would be approximately 18 months.

Obviously you will spend some time developing your clientele and determining how to arrange either pick up or delivery with your customers.  With a feed store this makes things easier.  It took 3-4 months to reach capacity with the F1100 machine.  If you don't have a location such as this it will clearly require more legwork to find your buyers.

Can this work for anyone?

Unfortunately we can't guarantee that.  We would love to say YES but it depends on your area, feed prices, demand for fresh livestock feed and a host of other factors.  Our own experience has done quite well but each area of the country has different needs and wants for the animals.  Many customers buying a machine for their own animals have been successful selling excess to their neighbors.

Does it scale?

Fodder Production does get cheaper as the systems get larger.  The seed costs come down, electricity usage per lb comes down, and up front investment per lb of production is lowered.  On the flip side, the price for large volumes of feed are also going to be lower.  Large volume customers will want a better price - or you risk the chance that they buy their own system.  To date, the largest system used to sell fodder is the F1100 machine.  With the right customer base it can work but we're not aware of anyone that has taken the plunge (yet).

Conclusion

If you're in a situation or area where you think selling fodder can work, give us a call!  We'd be happy to discuss the details and share our experience.  We know there is great potential, but it's uncharted territory.  We thought it was time to share our results and let others run with the numbers.  In the meantime, if you'd like to buy some fodder come on over to the Simply Country feed stores in California or contact Rainman Fodder in Kingman, Arizona.

 

 


The FodderWorks Journey September 30 2016, 0 Comments

The last weeks have been eventful, 11 days at the Iowa State Fair.  The butter cow sculpture is an amazing site, and there was tremendous interest in Fodder. 

Image Credit:  Iowa State Fair, https://www.iowastatefair.org/about/butter-cow/  The world-famous Butter Cow is located in the Agriculture Building. In 2006, Sarah Pratt of West Des Moines became the Fair's fifth butter sculptor.

While there, I was interviewed by NPR about the water savings of using fodder for feed, then on to Jacksonville to tour the Snowbird fully automated fodder system. 

Next is Grand Island Nebraska for the Husker Harvest Ag show, by way of Kansas to visit a sheep producer that is having great response with fodder in his rations.  In Grand Island, I met with current producers and heard of their success and shared with those interested in adding fodder to their feeding program.  This was followed by a side trip to India to study fodder technology there, (which will be featured at The World Ag Expo in Tulare,CA).
I'm now sitting in Kansas City waiting to fly into Utah to meet with one of our seed suppliers.  Then...I will go home for a bit. 

Seems like since I embarked on this Fodder journey over 7 years ago, I have been, seen and visited more places and people then I would ever encountered in the small town of Rough & Ready where I live.  My family has been in the feed business over 52 years and 3 generations.

I was introduced to Fodder over 7 years ago and quite frankly never thought I would be traveling, literally around the world, developing, manufacturing and marketing fodder systems.

It has been an interesting "journey",  more from the stand point of learning, understanding, and then learning some more, how sprouted grain for livestock feed benefits both the stock being fed and the producer feeding them.  We have years of great testimonials and experiences with the benefits of fodder.  The best part is that there is still more to learn and understand about the advantages, both nutritional and financial, of blending sprouted grains into feed rations.

A special thanks for all those who have come along for the journey with us here at Fodderworks.  We have all learned along the way.  We are committed to FODDER, because it WORKS!   Thanks everyone!  

 

Curt Chittock

Pres/CEO

Simply Country, Inc. 


But Does it Make Financial Sense? September 23 2016, 0 Comments

As a FodderWorks dealer in the Midwest, I get this question a lot.  So, does sprouting fodder for livestock feed make sense financially?  And, is it still making financial sense with low feed prices?

You have to admit - there is something truly amazing about sprouting fodder for livestock feed.  My kids especially love the sweet smell, feel, and taste (yes, I said taste) of the fresh fodder in our F650 each day that we feed to our sheep, cows, horse, and donkeys.  I continue to be impressed with the health improvement we've seen in our animals, most especially our miniature horse Sunny, who as a 19-year-old founder-survivor, looks better than she has in years.

Last month we spent 11 days in our booth at the Iowa State Fair, and during that time our F320 fodder system produced 3,520 lbs of forage on an 80 sq. ft. footprint.  Being in the booth for 12 hours a day, we could literally watch the fodder grow inside the machine.  As a livestock producer on our farm in Southern Iowa, I continue still marvel each day at how much the fodder will grow just in a few short hours.  

And that's all great - but is it cost effective?

The answer is: YES!  Producing fodder is a cost effective way to provide a consistent source of high quality nutrition to your livestock.  Our producers agree that "they love the feed", and they also readily admit that their system pays its own way on the farm, even at the low costs of corn, hay and other feedstuffs today.

We raise sheep on our farm, and my wife Kristen and I have been feeding lambs most of our lives.  Our journey with fodder began when we started searching for more cost effective feedstuffs.  I discovered fodder on the internet, and soon found FodderWorks and the FodderWorks Return on Investment (ROI) calculator. http://www.fodderworks.net/pages/roi-calculator 

The FodderWorks ROI calculator was the tool that helped me understand two important things: 1)Fodder is not only a high quality, high protein feedstuff, but cost effective to produce, and 2) because a pound of barley seed sprouts into 6 - 8 lbs of fodder, even if the cost of seed varies, your output cost will remain much more stable than other purchased feeds.  

For example, the current cost for a complete, pelleted ration made of from a local supplier to feed out lambs is $220 per ton, or 11 cents per pound. Lambs will eat 4-5 lbs of this pelleted feed from self-feeders each day. 

As an alternative, lambs will eat roughly 2.5 lbs of fodder (as fed) and 1.5-2 lbs of medium quality hay as roughage.

If I was to keep 295 lambs on feed, which is roughly what I could do with the F650 machine I have, I could save enough money feeding fodder and hay for roughage, instead of the complete pelleted ration, to pay for a new F650 machine in 16 months.  That is figured with a 30 cent per pound cost for high quality barley seed, cleaned and germination tested.

If seed costs were to skyrocket to 60 cents per pound, or, double from what they are now, my ROI is now 29 months.

More importantly, by choosing fodder, I will have secured my feed costs for the long term, made a wise equipment investment that will continue to save me money for years to come, and improved the overall health of my animals.

With the wide variability of fed lamb prices from year-to-year, as well as the wide swings in commodity feed prices, I knew that I needed a steady feed cost to consistently turn a profit raising lambs.  Growing fodder can make that possible!

See you next time,

Justin Akers
FodderWorks Midwest LLC
Your FodderWorks dealer in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska  

 


Farmtek Conversion Kit November 06 2015, 0 Comments

Check out the new conversion kit!  Have a Farmtek system?  This kit will eliminate pre-soaking, decrease sprouting time to just 6 days and increase your yields.

Sprouting around the world October 02 2015, 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered where sprouts are being used?  At FodderWorks, we get the pleasure of talking with people all over the world.  You may not see all of your friends and neighbors installing fodder systems (yet) but that doesn't mean the technology and availability isn't spreading.  To date, we have enabled fodder systems to be installed in locations all over the United States, Canada, Iceland, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Greece, to name a few.  Countless other countries have contacted FodderWorks to understand fodder and see how it can help.  The reasons sprouts are needed vary in every part of the world.  Here are a few fun facts:

Iceland

  • Did you know that Iceland's growing season is only about 2 months?
  • Due to lack of forage, cattle are often fed a diet that is extremely high in fish meal.
  • There is only one breed of dairy cow in Iceland and they were imported over 1,000 years ago.  This make them a very unique and pure breed.
  • The population of the entire country of Iceland is around 323,000.  About twice as many people live in Seattle, Washington.
  • 3 Fodder systems were shipped to Iceland mid 2014.  Electrical systems were modified to meet the 220v, 50hz power requirements.

Canada

  • Every FodderWorks system currently in Canada is run by a university.  They're serious about doing their research!  (An onsite system is however scheduled for installation late 2015 for a direct customer)
  • The western part of Canada is in a serious drought.  Hay prices are very high compared to the past several years.  More people are looking at sprouts as a solution to the current feeding challenges.
  • Grass fed beef is a growing industry in select areas of Canada.  Fodder can help meet the consumer demands as they grow.
  • The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every year.  Over 1 million people attend in 10 days.  You can bet a FodderWorks dealer will be attending at a future date.

Suriname

  • Suriname is a south american country with a need for feed.  Except for some native grasses (such as elephant grass) virtually all feed has to be imported.
  • Challenges with importing feed have made it extremely difficult to raise cattle in the country.  Numbers have dwindled and it's reported that the largest dairy in Suriname now only has 16 cows.
  • Implementing fodder systems could bring back dairies to the country.  We hope to report back at a future date with progress.

Austria

  • "Fodder" as we know it has not caught on in Austria and awareness is limited.  They do however have extensive experience feeding sprouted grains to poultry.
  • The first reference to using sprouted grains in Austria is in a book from the 1600's.
  • More recent information on sprouting for poultry is also available, if you can read German.  Feel free to contact us and we'll tell you what we know.

This is just a snippet, but we hope it provides a broader perspective on fodder and where it's going - EVERYWHERE!  Make sure to check our Upcoming Events page if you'd like to see FodderWorks near you.  If you don't see something close by, please contact us!  We may have a system nearby.

MF1100 rack system in Greece

 


FodderWorks at Wood Ranch September 25 2015, 0 Comments

Check out our newest video from Wood Ranch!  Bubba shares his thoughts on what he hopes fodder can do for his horses.  After just 2 weeks, we stop back in for a visit on the progress.  Do you have any questions or comments?  Feel free to post below!

FodderWorks will be at another location soon, so make sure to subscribe to our youtube channel for updates.


Upcoming FodderWorks Events September 19 2015, 0 Comments

Check out our new page for upcoming events!  FodderWorks will be in many states throughout the midwest and west coast over the next few months.  If you'd like to be the one representing us, feel free to contact us about our dealer requirements.

Come see FodderWorks at an event or tradeshow near you!

Call for appointment FodderWorks Manufacturing Facility 530-615-0565
September 29th - October 3rd World Dairy Expo https://worlddairyexpo.com/
October 8th - 10th 3i Show http://3ishow.com/
October 24th - 25th Mother Earth News Fair Kansas http://www.motherearthnewsfair.com/kansas/
October 27th - 28th Western Organic Dairy Producer's Alliance Convention http://www.wodpa.org/
December 4th - 5th Missouri Livestock Symposium http://www.missourilivestock.com/
February 9th - 11th, 2016 World Ag Expo http://worldagexpo.com/