Breaking Through The Grass Ceiling American Dairymen

Breaking Through The Grass Ceiling American Dairymen

Breaking Through The Grass Ceiling

In a world beset by increased demand for quality food, drought conditions, high grain prices, skyrocketing land prices, good farm land lost to urban sprawl, declining available fresh water supplies, increased concerns about agriculturally generated greenhouse gases, and more, Jon Baker, majority owner of FodderTech, a company specializing in the development, manufacture and marketing of sprouting systems is excited by how their sprouted grain fodder technology can help producers better meet the challenges of feeding the world more nutritiously, profitably and sustainably.

FodderTech SGF facility constructed for an organic grass-fed dairy in Lancaster Co. PA

1.Increased revenue per CWT due to increased components

2. Higher milk volumes

3. Dramatically increased fertility rates

4. Greatly improved herd health (fewer veterinary bills)

5. Substantially lower involuntary cull rate

6. Elimination of mineral supplements

7. Better coat shine and condition

As a permanent adjunct to traditional livestock feeding methods when there are problems growing fodder crops using traditional field crop in soil methods.

Where the climate is not conducive to standard crop growing.

As a feeding regime for breeding and lactating stock, fattening stock and for animals with sensitive feeding needs.

It offers increased confidence to control and calculate output in the good times, and provides a vital back up when issues outside farmers control affect growing.

Controlled-environment farming is being increasingly recognized as offering diversification and farming intensification, both of which may increase earnings.

Even with all of these benefits, there is one main reason that SGF never has been widely used: mold. Dozens of SGF companies have come and gone during the last hundred years. All of them could sprout the grain, but none of them could sprout without also growing considerable mold with the SGF. Since mold contains mycotoxins that are a direct threat to animal health, it is mold that has prevented SGF from being widely adopted.

With the recent drought and the related run up in feed prices, interest has risen again in SGF. Several US dairies are reporting good to exceptional results from SGF, but these same dairies are also reporting serious mold issues as well. One dairy in Arizona recently shut its SGF facility down due to its inability to control mold, even though the SGF had lowered its feed bill and materially increased its milk volumes and components.

At the most recent World Dairy Expo held in Madison, WI. Baker shared exciting news about what FodderTech has to offer producers. Advanced hydroponic technology coupled with other patent protected methodologies allow FodderTech to produce SGF mold free on a year round basis in any climate. Baker says, FodderTech is able to grow mold free by understanding the root of the problem, rather than by trying to treat the symptoms.

By keeping the mold from growing in the first place, FodderTech is able to avoid the need for harmful chemicals. Given that a single ton of grain is naturally coated with as many as 100 billion mold spores, and that the same humidity and temperature conditions required to sprout the grain also trigger the mold to grow, this is no small feat. FodderTech is so confident of its mold-free technology that is offers a written 100 percent money back guarantee against mold, says Baker. No other SGF company appears to offer such a guarantee.

As potentially significant as FodderTechs mold-free SGF systems are, FodderTech has now developed the technology to meet the needs of larger producers and is now receiving orders for large-scale SGF systems. While the Expo progressed through the week, FodderTech received verbal commitments from two 3,000 head dairies and one 5,000 head dairy for systems designed to supply SGF to the dairies. According to Baker, FodderTech is also advancing discussions with a beef feedlot that wishes a similar deal to supply fodder for over 200,000 head of beef cattle. It is very gratifying to see all of our hard work and focus on quality mold-free SGF starting to pay off says Baker. We now are in position to help dairies of all sizes to benefit from mold-free SGF.

Origins of FodderTech

At the heart of FodderTechs mold free SGF system is the patented technology developed by Mr. Peter Doyle, a world-recognized hydroponics expert from Australia. Doyle used all of his hydroponic expertise to develop a mold free SGF system to help Australian farmers survive a ten-year drought. As Doyle has subsequently acknowledged, finding the way to grow mold free was more challenging than he had ever imagined, but after many years of persevering, he finally succeeded in figuring out how to keep the mold from growing.

Baker found Doyle five years ago while Baker searched the world over for an SGF system that could grow mold free and might be scalable to handle even the largest CAFOs. Baker, a mining engineer by training, and also a seasoned entrepreneur, had then only recently become aware of the superior nutritional benefits of green-grass-fed animal products such as dairy, meat and eggs. I do believe that we are what we eat and that good, nutrient dense food can be our medicine, notes Baker. Baker wanted a source for grass-fed animals products produced locally near his home in Utah. Given the Utah climate, Baker knew that other than for a short period of the year, it was impossible for him to get what he desired.

Then Baker learned about SGF, and his mind started racing. My desire was for all people throughout the world to be able to eat green-grass-fed animal products so they could be healthier. I knew, however, that there simply is not sufficient good grassland to allow that to happen, especially with the worlds population expected to rise by another 3 billion people in the next 35 years.

In SGF, Baker saw the potential to allow 21st century technology to break what Baker refers to as the grass ceiling. Baker studied every SGF system he could find with two pre-conditions. The system needed to grow mold free and to be sufficiently scalable to be of impact to large CAFOs. In the end, the only system Baker found that met those two requirements was Doyles. Today Doyle and Baker are the owners of FodderTech.

Breaking the Grass Ceiling

Since its founding, FodderTech has worked hard to properly advance Doyles methodology into a technology and then into products of various sizes that people could afford. FodderTechs most recent product, an automated version of its proven commercial SGF system, is the key that unlocks the door to the modern dairy and hence the grass ceiling, says Baker. The automated system is modular and infinitely scalable according to Baker, and reduces the labor inputs required to grow mold free fodder. Baker continues, The automated system is appropriate for any dairy with a minimum of 150 head of dairy cows being milked. Given my focus on quality and nutrient dense food, I am especially pleased that our first automated SGF system was sold to a certified organic, grass-fed dairy.

In what may be an extremely impactful development, FodderTech is in the final stages of securing a large amount of financial muscle that will allow it to give dairies two choices regarding how they procure FodderTechs SGF system. FodderTech, of course, is prepared to sell a dairy its systems. However, FodderTech expects to soon be able to build and operate its own SGF on behalf of any dairy with at least 150 milking animals. FodderTech is also willing to build a shared SGF facility for groups of smaller dairies (less than 150 head) operating in close proximity to each other.

With this new approach FodderTech is prepared to enter into a multi-year contract with the dairy to supply the total feed ration at a reduced cost per cwt of milk, with both parties sharing in any savings or increased revenue resulting from the SGF being incorporated into the ration. Baker indicated that the three large dairies discussed earlier will all be entering into this type of arrangement with FodderTech. Just think, we will soon have SGF facilities of one acre or larger supplying the key feed component for large dairies. Of course, FodderTech does not have an unlimited amount of funds for this program, so dairies interested in getting in on this deal should plan on approaching FodderTech sooner than later, adds Baker.

Baker also points out that smaller dairies not large enough to qualify for its feed supply program can still buy SGF systems from FodderTech, and if they need to can do so with 5-year, 100 percent financing, such that there is no reason any dairy should not be benefitting from feeding mold-free SGF.

Additional Upside

Not all fodder is created equal, says Baker. Due to its special and proprietary mineral nutrient added to its watering system, FodderTech believes it produces as much as 40 percent more fodder per pound of input grain, and that its fodder is richer in minerals thus allowing its SGF to deliver more bang for the bite. Baker expects as well that in 2013 FodderTech will be in position to increase its nutrient density and SGF yield by an additional 30-50 percent, while still using its core growing system.

FodderTechs tagline indicates that its SGF systems are the future of farming. Whether or not this will in fact become reality remains yet to be seen. However, Baker passionately believes in his vision for the future and the huge potential for FodderTechs SGF technology to change the livestock feed paradigm. According to Baker, It is rare that a single technology holds the potential to better nutrition animals, improve dairy operations, improve the quality of life and financial status of the dairyman, and improve human nutrition all at once. Throw in the reduced land, water, and carbon footprints of this technology and it just gets better. In Bakers mind, that sound he hears is the grass ceiling starting to shatter.

An entrepreneur is probably the best word to describe 56-year-old Jon Baker, who is a native Oregonian. A mining engineer for 15 years, Baker graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1980. Even though he carved out a solid career as a mining engineer and executive, Baker says, I realized that I was a creative problem solver, and I yearned for more.

So, in 1997 Baker left the mining world for a life of entrepreneurism. His efforts have involved railroads, natural gas exploration/development and now SGF. While the railroad and gas company were terrific opportunities, SGF is by far the most exciting and meaningful effort I have been involved with to date. We have the opportunity to truly change the world as we know it.

Jon can be reached at or 855-9SPROUT (977-7688).

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