Fodder (/ˈfɒdər/), also called provender (/ˈprɒvəndər/), is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock, such as cattle, rabbits, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. "Fodder" refers particularly to food given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them), rather than that which they forage for themselves (called forage). Fodder includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and sprouted grains and legumes (such as bean sprouts, fresh malt, or spent malt). Most animal feed is from plants, but some manufacturers add ingredients to processed feeds that are of animal origin.

A fodder factory set up by an individual farmer to produce customised cattle feed

The worldwide animal feed trade produced 873 million tons of feed (compound feed equivalent) in 2011,[1] fast approaching 1 billion tonnes according to the International Feed Industry Federation,[2] with an annual growth rate of about 2%. The use of agricultural land to grow feed rather than human food can be controversial (see food vs. feed); some types of feed, such as corn (maize), can also serve as human food; those that cannot, such as grassland grass, may be grown on land that can be used for crops consumed by humans. In many cases the production of grass for cattle fodder is a valuable intercrop between crops for human consumption, because it builds the organic matter in the soil. When evaluating if this soil organic matter increase mitigates climate change, both permanency of the added organic matter as well as emissions produced during use of the fodder product have to be taken into account. Some agricultural byproducts fed to animals may be considered unsavory by humans.

Manual cutting of green fodder in Punjab.

Common plants specifically grown for fodder

Round hay bales
Newton of Cawdor stack of bales, sweet-smelling fodder stored for winter
Cut green fodder being transported to cattle in Tanzania
A traditional method of storing wheat hay in Punjab.
Cut green fodder being transported to cattle in Nepal.


Health concerns

In the past, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") spread through the inclusion of ruminant meat and bone meal in cattle feed due to prion contamination. This practice is now banned in most countries where it has occurred. Some animals have a lower tolerance for spoiled or moldy fodder than others, and certain types of molds, toxins, or poisonous weeds inadvertently mixed into a feed source may cause economic losses due to sickness or death of the animals. The US Department of Health and Human Services regulates drugs of the Veterinary Feed Directive type that can be present within commercial livestock feed.


Farmer mills branches of shrubs for the production of low-cost animal fodder in Namibia
Feed crusher. 1976

Increasing intensities and frequencies of drought events put rangeland agriculture under pressure in semi-arid and arid geographic areas. Innovative emergency fodder production concepts have been reported, such as bush-based animal fodder production in Namibia. During extended dry periods, some farmers have used woody biomass fibre from encroacher bush as their primary source of cattle feed, adding locally-available supplements for nutrients as well as to improve palatability.[9][10][11]

Production of sprouted grains as fodder

On-site system in the US

Fodder in the form of sprouted cereal grains such as barley, and legumes can be grown in small and large quantities.

Systems have been developed recently that allow for many tons of sprouts to be produced each day, year round. Sprouted grains can significantly increase the nutritional value of the grain compared with feeding the ungerminated grain to stock.[12] In addition, they use less water than traditional forage, making them ideal for drought conditions. Sprouted barley and other cereal grains can be grown hydroponically in a carefully-controlled environment.[13] Hydroponically-grown sprouted fodder at 150 mm tall with a 50 mm root mat is at its peak for animal feed.

Although products such as barley are grain, when sprouted they are approved by the American Grassfed Association to be used as livestock feed.

See also


  1. "". 21 March 2012. Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  2. "IFIF". IFIF. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  3. Valorization of agricultural wastewater streams into an alternative protein source duckweed.
  4. Daly, Jon (18 October 2019). "Poo-eating beetles and charcoal used by WA farmer to combat climate change". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Mr Pow said his innovative farming system could help livestock producers become more profitable while helping to address the impact of climate change.
  5. Logsdon, Gene (2004). All Flesh Is Grass. Ohio University: Swallow Press. Chapter 20. ISBN 0-8040-1069-2.
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2015-09-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Medeiros, João (9 March 2014). "How AgriProtein makes chicken food from maggots". Wired.
  8. Giec, A; Skupin, J (1988). "Single cell protein as food and feed". Nahrung. 32 (3): 219–29. doi:10.1002/food.19880320302. PMID 3292921.
  9. "Report on the Bush-to-Feed Pilot Projet in the African Wild Dog Community Forest". Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. 2018.
  10. Matthys, Donald (2018-11-30). "Manual on how to produce animal feed from local encroached bush launched". Namibia Economist.
  11. "Turning bush to feed in face of drought". The Namibian. 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  12. Sneath, Roger; McIntosh, Felicity (October 2003). Review of Hydroponic Fodder Production for Beef Cattle. Meat & Livestock Australia Limited. p. 15. ISBN 1740365038. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  13. Sneath, Roger; McIntosh, Felicity (October 2003). Review of Hydroponic Fodder Production for Beef Cattle. Meat & Livestock Australia Limited. ISBN 1740365038. Retrieved 7 June 2018. Hydroponic sprouts may have profitable application in intensive, small-scale livestock situations with high value outputs, where land and alternative feed costs are high, and where the quality changes (eg less starch, more lysine, vitamins, etc) due to sprouting are advantageous to the particular livestock.

Further reading

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