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Believe me, when a livestock producer mentions he's thinking about feeding his animals some of that "sprouted barley grass", the resulting comments will not always be favorable. Here at Sun Roads Farmory, we've heard the Dry Matter Debate until our ears are about to fall off. We don't wish to stomp our feet and demand that "We are right!" just for the sake of being right -- and certainly not just to sell our product! We value our customers, as well as our personal and professional integrity too much for that! Once again, we prefer to educate and help our customers understand exactly what kind of nutrition is in the sprouted feed grown in our AFS machines and what is not!
Dry Matter (DM)
It's a term used very frequently amongst livestock producers, but what exactly IS "dry matter"? A common definition, as defined by the University of Georgia Extension, is: "Dry matter represents everything contained in a feed sample except water; this includes protein, fiber, fat, minerals, etc. It is the total weight of feed minus the weight of water in the feed, expressed as a percentage. It is determined by drying the feed sample in an oven until the sample reaches a stable weight. This is normally a simple analysis. However, estimates of the DM of fermented materials such as silage are complicated by the presence of volatile fatty acids. These acids are removed in the drying process but they are part of the dry matter and are digestible. This introduces a variable amount of error. Analysis of the fodder without ensiling provides a more accurate estimate of fiber fractions and digestibility contained in the silage."
So, the term "dry matter" is a measurement --the yardstick of nutritionists, if you will. This is the measurement they use to tell you how to feed your animals. The problem arises when they compare our sprouted grasses to hay. That is not the issue here. To have a conversation that has meaning, we must compare "apples to apples, not apples to oranges." The discussion should center around dry grain as food vs. sprouted grain as food. Feeding our animals dried alfalfa and dried grasses is certainly not the problem. However, feeding our animals dry grain is very detrimental to their health. This is discussed on the "Nutrition" page as well as "The Dairy Example Page". We will continue that discussion here!
LONG FIBER: CRITICAL TO GOOD NUTRITION
The sprouts grown in our Alternative Feed Source units are 4-6 inches long. The best roughage for your animals is long, coarse fiber. This is defined as “plant material that is from 3/8 to 1 1/2 inches in length or longer.
Benefits to your animals:
Reduced occurrence of digestive disorders such as colic or bloat
Stimulated immune system
Fresh food daily that is:
naturally balanced with essential nutrients
High fiber, energy, and protein
RICH in enzymes
Low acid content
As mentioned on the "Dairy Example" page, grinding roughage into small particles reduces the "roughage effect" on the rumen of ruminant animals, and the digestives system of non-ruminants. This includes alfalfa pellets, silage, and of course grain! There is absolutely no roughage effect with grain at all.
This is why we believe that if the arguement regarding "dry matter" was accurately comparing sprouted grain to dry grain, there would be no such arguement in the first place!
Grains are starches and they are indeed high energy. But they turn into the simple sugars of sucrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and fructans. This type of energy is short lived and low in nutrition. Because of its decreased digestibility and the fact that it stops enzymes and binds minerals, we can begin to understand why our animals' health deteriorates quickly when fed grain.
FACTS ABOUT FIBER
Fiber supplies energy. It maintains normal healthy rumen function. In cattle, it produces higher milk fat. Dairy producers know higher milk fat means a better market value for their milk. Beef cattle producers know that higher milk fat makes better milk and a faster growth rate for their calves. But when talking about fiber, there are two terms that nutritionists like to use. To maintain our educational stance, let's look very briefly at each one.
Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF)
This is a chemical measurement of the fiber content of a food.
Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF)
This is the least digestible plant components, including cellulose and lignin.
Low ADF = high energy
Beef Cattle require an NDF value 35-40% of their total daily DM intake. To maintain the health of this animal, the NDF % should never be below 30%.
Dairy Cattle require an NDF value 30-35% of their total daily DM intake.
The NDF of Barley Grain is 18.1-20.2%*
The NDF of our sprouted barley grain on Day 6 is 31.25%*
The NDF of our sprouted barley grain on Day 8 is 35.4%*
*Please see the following charts to evaluate further nutrition.