Here's one alternative to hay.
Did you ever wish you could grow your own feed, but you don’t have the land? Well, maybe you should consider a hydroponic system of growing horse feed.
The folks at Fodder Feeds produce a growing unit that is environmentally controlled and has automatic watering heating, cooling, lighting and humidity control. Inside the unit, you can plant 2 pounds of barley seed and it sprouts to 20 lbs of feed in 6 days. The Fodder Feed folks claim that feed has more nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and protein than any grass hay.
Here’s how it works, according to the Fodder folks:
Fodder Feeds, has developed a system that enables the germination and cultivation of cereal grains and pod legumes, based on hydroponic principles (the cultivation of plants without soil).
Seeds become young plants in six days, regardless of the available developable soil and type of climate. A layer of succulent and fresh green forage is obtained, free of parasites, very tasty, with a high nutritional value, and ready to be used for nourishing horses or other livestock.
This process can be adapted and individualized to the feeding needs of each livestock operation and will ensure a continuous and homogeneous supply all year round. During the germinating process, enzymes that metabolize the seed’s starch and protein reserves are triggered, converting them into basic nutritional elements (amino-acids and sugars) and creating new vegetable tissues rich in totally natural vitamins that are assimilated easily.
A highly digestible natural food is obtained, which is expected to increase productivity, performance, and improve the general health of horses and other livestock.
Growing units are custom built according to each operation’s needs. They are designed for durability, low maintenance, and reduced labor. Electronic systems control the process, providing the seeds with the optimal temperature, humidity, light, and ventilation for the most efficient plant growth.
Overview of process: An enclosed, environmentally controlled container has in it a system of racks that hold trays. Each tray holds enough sprout-feed to feed the equivalent of one average sized horse. At one end of the container, trays are filled with seed. Each day, another set of trays is filled with seed and pushed along the rack toward the rear of the container. The container controls watering, light, temperature, and humidity. After 6 days, the seeds have grown into plant sprouts that are harvested (removed from the tray) and fed to the livestock.
The entire plant (green tops, seed pods, and root system) is fed to the horses. The empty tray is refilled with grain seeds and the process begins again. A unit can be built to grow feed for any number of horses.
It’s not cheap: A unit sized to feed six horses runs $8,000. You can find their prices here.
For more information, go to Fodderfeeds.com.