- Dec 28, 2012
- Reaction score
- Zebulon, NC
I have done my research and my math.
A sheep requires 2% of their body weight in dry matter per day during maintenance. A 150 lb ewe will need 3 lbs of dry matter per day. Fodder is about 80% moisture. So 3 lbs of DM / 20% DM in fodder = 15 lbs of fodder needed to feed each sheep daily to meet their maintenance requirements.
Compare that to hay, which is about 85% DM on average... 3 lbs of DM / 85% DM in hay = 3.53 lbs of hay needed to feed each sheep daily to meet their maintenance requirements.
Let's say you can grow 500 lbs of fodder for $11 (the cost of a 50 lb bag of barley at the feed store). That is $0.022/lb. Doesn't sound bad at all, does it? (Though that does not include the capital costs of the growing system or the daily maintenance.) Well...when you think of the amount you have to feed (the 15 lbs), then it is $0.33 per sheep per day.
Or you could feed 3.53 lbs of hay per day. In my area I purchase hay for $0.0625/lb. (Though recently I paid $0.09/lb for hay ) That amount is about $0.22 per sheep per day. OR with the amount I recently paid for hay, $0.32 per sheep per day.
If you have five sheep, that is the difference between $1.65 (fodder) and $1.10 (hay) over the course of a day. Over the course of a month, that is $49.50 for fodder or $33 for hay. If you feed this over the course of a year, it will cost you around $40 more every year per animal to feed fodder (again, not including set up costs). When you have hay, you can just buy it straight from another farmer (though storage can be an issue, but even still you can have hay under a tarp outside if you lack a barn or other structure). Again, in this example I am using the prices in my area...if fodder pencils out for you then by all means use it. But it is not a viable feed source for me.
Not to mention the effort. I wouldn't have the time with the number of animals I have.