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Grass Mats Revolutionize Farm Feeding

Grass mats are the new eco-friendly way to fee livestock. Grass mats are the new eco-friendly way to fee livestock.

 

If you've ever browsed into the workings of modern farm animal breeding, you're probably familiar with its notoriously poor environmental record. Among its many shortcomings are its massive demand of resources, from the millions of gallons of water used to hydrate cattle to the huge tracts of land needed to produce fodder such as hay and grain.

With the strain of modern agriculture already taking its toll on farmland, secondary methods of food production for cows and horses are in dire need. If you've never heard of a hydroponically grown grass mat, here is your introduction - the sprouted grain mats are revolutionizing the way livestock and farm animals are reared today.

As an alternative source of nutrition for cows and horses, hydroponic grass mats are quickly becoming a popular supplement to traditional grain-based diets. While the list of benefits associated with the mats – from healthier herds to much more affordable feed stocks – are catching the eye of small-scale farmers around the world, their rise in demand springs from a saddening reality.

Nothing is wasted when it comes to feeding time as the entire mat, from root to shoot, is edible.

Hay and grain stocks decimated by poor weather have left many farmers at the mercy of climate change. In some countries such as Ireland, the effects have been so severe that governments have turned to fodder imports from neighboring countries, resulting in unpredictable and often dramatic fluctuations in their costs.

Grass mats are something of a panacea for the industry plagued by unpredictable weather, feed shortages and a desire to move toward more sustainable practices. Since the mats are produced indoors, they are available year round and a steady supply at a reliable price is easy to guarantee.

The turn around in production is equally as appealing - a mat can be ready from seed to consumption in just 6 days. In terms of efficiency, one kilogram of seed translates into up to 10 kilograms of sprouted grass mat and their production uses 50 times less water than hay crops. In a greenhouse facility of less than 150 square meters, up to 1200 kilograms of fodder can be generated everyday. Nothing is wasted when it comes to feeding time as the entire mat, from root to shoot, is edible.

Health-wise, sprouted mats are higher in fiber than seed and less starchy. Their nutritional content is greater as well since B-vitamins, plant alkaloids, oils and sugars within the seed are better digested by animals once sprouted. While grass mats would be unfeasible as a complete replacement for grain due to its low dry matter to moisture content, they are a much needed supplement to dry grain and a definite game changer for struggling ranchers.

Since grazing animals such as horses and cows are meant to feed on live greens, hydroponic grass mats are step toward happier farms and a more natural way to nourish animals. Hydroponic production can reduce the industry's use of resources from land mass to water to actual grain production. In a time of uncertainty for farmers in general, the grass is greener on the hydroponic side.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 18:58

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