The Dairy Example
When striving to understand the nutrition in our sprouted grass, the dairy farms and their cows lend us some amazing examples. Let's take a look and see how this method of feeding dairy cattle benefits the dairy industry operations.
The top three reasons dairy producers cull their herd are
1. Reproductive Issues
Feeding sprouts to dairy cattle substantially lowers involuntary cull rates.
Herds that are fed sprouts have had proven numbers showing dramatically increased fertility rates. A U.S. dairyman feeding sprouted barley grass at only 1% body weight (not yet having increased to the recommended 3%), reported the following results:
· 100% higher conception rate (28% vs. 14%)
· 85% conception rate in one month (20 of 23 cows inoculated on 1st attempt)
This same dairy farm virtually eliminated acidosis and laminitis in their dairy herd within 1 year! The only change was the introduction of sprouted barley into their diet.
Mastitis costs the average dairy farm $200 per year, per cow. For a 100 cow herd, that is $20,000! Feeding sprouted grasses rather than dry grain almost completely eliminates mastitis! Due to zinc deficiency, many farms are plagued by hoof and feet problems, leading to expensive vet bills and high cull percentages! Adding to the the hoof and feet problems is the fact that grain makes your animals' bodies acidic, which leads to bone loss as described below.
Sprouting the grains you feed your animals in one of our exceptional growing rooms eliminates these problems. When you are able to see the cause and the solution, it doesn’t seem like such a complicated situation.
More Facts from the Dairy Industry
Dairy cows that are eating 3% of their body weight in sprouted barley grass and consuming no grain have had the following proven results:
· Milk with 14.26% higher butter fat content
· Increased overall milk production by 10%
A dairyman from Wisconsin who has had his herd on sprouts for some time now reported that when he was in the transitional stages of weaning his herd from grain, the cows would “wait to eat their grain until all the sprouts were gone.” He continues by saying, “Cows were created to digest grasses and forage plants, not a high grain diet. A living plant is the best thing you can feed.”
According to the National Agricultural Institute, May 2013, “Modern dairy cows average 2.5 lactation cycles during their lifetime on a diet including grain.” They report that these cows have a life span of 1 1/2—3 years.
A study done by the Ohio State University showed that dairy cows fed sprouts and hay had an average life span of 12 years. This study was 29 years long and stated that these cows produced 28% more milk with 14% more butterfat! This study also showed that the milk produced by sprout / hay eating cows had increased CLA (unsaturated fats) in both the milk produced as well as the meat of the animal. (More information on why CLA is important to us humans on the "Beef Cattle" page.)
Grain Is Very Acidic
A 29 year long study by Ohio State University shows that cows consuming only hay and sprouts live an average of 12 healthy years vs. the 1.5-3 years of a cow consuming grain as a food source.
Let's look a little closer at the laminitis problem. When the producer feeds their animals sugars, starches, and other rapidly-digested feeds (dry grain-based feeds), the rumen becomes more acidic. Introducing long fiber into the rumen helps minimize this acidic effect by the longer chewing time that is necessary to break down and digest the fibrous material. This is because when saliva mixes with the cud, “buffers” in the saliva help keep rumen acidity down. (Maybe you have pigs or horses ... your herd doesn't consist of "ruminants". Just visit our animal specific page for nutritional information pertinent to your herd!)
Why is this important? When our animals’ bodily systems are in an acidic state, their bodies naturally try to counteract that acidity by breaking down bone material to release calcium and magnesium into their systems. This is where diseases such as laminitis and hoof rot begin.
Grinding roughage into small particles greatly reduces the “roughage effect” on the rumen. For this reason, ground and pelleted food are not roughage. Starches are high in energy, but they significantly reduce the rumen function and digestion of long fiber.