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Effect of Hydroponic Barley Fodder on Awassi lambs Performance



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Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare
ISSN 2224-3208 (Paper) ISSN 2225-093X (Online)
Vol.6, No.8, 2016
Effect of Hydroponic Barley Fodder on Awassi Lambs
Mysaa Ata
Department of Animal Production and Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Jerash University, Jerash 26150,
The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of feeding hydroponic barley (HB) on the
performance of Awassi ram lambs. A total of 50 weaned lambs were used in a feeding trial by dividing it into two
groups. The first was fed a total mixed ration diet (control) while lambs in the second group were fed similar
ration except that barley grain was totally replaced by HB for 90 days feeding trial. Lambs were fed ad libitum
twice per day and had a free access to fresh water. Feed offered and refusals were collected, body weight gain
was measured weekly, and feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated. Results of the experiment showed that
HB had a positive effect (p<0.05) on feed intake, final body weight, total gain, average daily gain, and FCR on
lambs fed the HB diet when compared to lambs fed the control diet. In conclusion, HB can be used as feed for
lambs in the fattening period to enhance their growth performance.
Keywords: Awassi ram lambs, Hydroponic barley, Growth performance.
1. Introduction
As livestock population increases, large gap exists in between requirements and availability of feed to maintain
animal nutrients requirement. Sheep production in Jordan is focusing on lamb meat as a final product for
consumers; therefore greater weight gain of lambs has a particular importance in animal industry in our area. The
major limitations on livestock production in Jordan and many other countries in the Arabian region are the
limited quantities and low quality of the produced green forage in addition to the high cost of imported feed.
Studies have shown that production of forage crops in Jordan covers about 20-25% of its livestock feed
requirements (Harb and Awawdeh, 2008). It is a fact that feeding animals is deficient without including green
fodder (e.g. Green forage) in their diets (Shah et al., 2011). Green fodder is an essential component of the
livestock ration to enhance their productive and reproductive performance. Consequently, for improving
livestock products, quality green fodder should be fed more often to animals (Dung et al., 2010). However, the
major constraints in production of green fodder are decreasing land size for fodder cultivation, scarcity of water,
labor requirement, and high cost of fertilization (MOA, 2014). As a solution, growing hydroponics fodder may
control some livestock feed diets and improve performance (Rodriguez et al., 2004).
Hydroponics is an advanced technology in agriculture. This techniques can meet the growing nutrients
requirement for livestock feed with suitable prices, in addition to guarantee a constant production of high
quantity of green forage throughout the year. Hydroponic fodder production is a technique of growing crops such
as barley, in a hygienic environment free of chemicals, and artificial growth promoters (Jensen and Malter, 1995).
Hydroponically fodder has a short growth period (around 7-10 days) and requires a small piece of land for
production (Mooney, 2005). It has high feed quality that is rich with proteins, fibers, vitamins, and minerals
(Bhise et al., 1988; Chung et al., 1989) with health beneficial effects on animals (Boue et al., 2003). As a reason,
hydroponic culture is one of the most important agricultural techniques currently in use for green forage
production in many countries.
As for sheep production, it is well documented that feed costs make more than 75% of total production costs of
sheep projects (Abo-Omar et al., 2012). The majority of sheep raised locally are of the Awassi breed (DOS,
2014). Under the general and semi intensive sheep production system that is performed by farmers, feeding
sheep in the off season results in great expenses on concentrated and roughage feeds. While as the productivity
of the livestock in a farm is highly dependent on the nutritive value of dry and green fodder, the aim of this study
was to evaluate the effect of hydroponically grown barley fodder on Awassi ram lambs growth performance.
Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare
ISSN 2224-3208 (Paper) ISSN 2225-093X (Online)
Vol.6, No.8, 2016
2. Materials and Methods
2.1 Experimental animals and diets
The experiment was conducted in a population of Awassi sheep, including 50 weaned Awassi ram lambs. Lambs
were purchased from a local farm and used in the experiment during the period of early October until late
December of 2015 at the research station of the Faculty of Agriculture at Jerash University. Awassi ram lambs
were weighed at the beginning of the study and then stratified by weight (average body weight = 19.0 ± 1.0 kg)
and randomly assigned to one of two treatment diets. They were around three months old and were fattened
during 90 days. Lambs were divided into two groups. Each group was consisted of 25 lambs. All lambs were
handled at the same housing conditions and fed individually in pens (0.75 × 1.5 m). Lambs were fed ad libitum
twice per day at 0800 and 1600 using plastic buckets with free access to fresh water. The green barley fodder
was fed as part of total mixed ration (TMR) (Table 1). Two diets were formulated in this experiment as follows:
Control diet with no hydroponic barley and HB diet with hydroponic barley (Table 1). Rations fed to lambs in
control group were formulated to meet the recommended requirements by the (NRC, 1985). Daily feed intake
was recorded by measuring feed offered and feed refusals, while the body weight gain was recorded weekly.
Average daily gain and feed conversion ratio was calculated at the end of the experiment.
Table 1. Ingredient and chemical composition of the experimental diets.
Control HB
Ingredient (% of the diet)
Barley grain 62.0 0
Soybean meal 15.0 15.0
HB 0.0 62.0
Wheat hay 20.0 20.0
Salt 1.4 1.4
Limestone 1.5 1.5
Mineral and Vitamins
0.1 0.1
Nutrients (%)
DM 89.9 89.0
OM 89.5 89.6
CP 15.9 16.1
NDF 37.5 38.4
ADF 20.4 19.6
(Mcal/kg) 2.7 2.5
Diets were: Control (Cont; n=25) and hydroponic barley (HB; n=25).
Composition per 1000 g contained (Dicalcium phosphate, 800 g; Sodium chloride, 60 g;
Trace elements mixture, 20 g (Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu, Co, Se); Magnesium oxide, 20 g; Vit. A,
500,000 IU; Vit. D3, 85,000 IU, Vit. E, 200 IU).
: Metabolizable energy; calculated using NRC (1985).
Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare
ISSN 2224-3208 (Paper) ISSN 2225-093X (Online)
Vol.6, No.8, 2016
2.2. Hydroponic barley fodder.
A hydroponic system was designed and purchased from a local workshop was used in this study. It is composed
of two cabinets (units) with metal frame each with dimensions (55 cm x 200 cm x 240 cm). Each unit consist of
four shelves to carry 24 planting tray. Polystyrene trays with dimensions (25 cm x 45 cm x 8 cm) were used for
growing seeds to produce green fodder. Hydroponic system was kept at control temperature inside a lab room
near the animal farm after purchasing and the temperature was maintained at 24±2ºC. The relative humidity
ranged between 45 and 70%. Barley cultivars were harvested to be used in the HB diet.
2.3. Chemical Analysis
Hydroponic samples as well as ration samples were collected and oven-dried at 70°C for 48 hours, weighed, and
analyzed using the proximate analysis procedure (Table 1 and 2). Proximate analysis for collected samples was
conducted and crude protein, crude fiber, crude fat, and dry matter contents were determined according to the
procedures of AOAC (2000). Acid detergent fiber (ADF) and Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was determined
(Robertson and Van Soest, 1981; Van Soest et al., 1991).
Table 2. Chemical Composition of hydroponic barley (on dry weight basis)
Item % Hydroponic barley
Dry matter 15.3
Crude protein 22.5
Crude fiber 11.4
Crude fat 3.2
ADF 13.1
NDF 32.5
2.4. Statistical Analysis
The experimental design used for this trial was complete randomized design. Analysis of variance was
performed using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS, version 9.1, 2000, SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC). Differences
among the means were determined by the Duncan’s multiple range test with a significance defined at P < 0.05.
3. Results and Discussion
An experiment was conducted by feeding Awassi ram lambs diets containing barley grains (Control diet) and
diets containing hydroponic barley (HB diet) to investigate its effect on lamb growth performance. Table 3 shows
the parameters measured reflecting lamb’s growth performance that was affected by the different diets. Initial
body weight for lambs was not different (p = 0.05) at the beginning of the experiment. Final body weight was
greater (p < 0.05) for lambs fed HB diet than lambs fed control diet with 39.04 kg vs. 36.36 kg for lambs fed HB
and Control diet, respectively. Total gain (Final body weight – Initial body weight) was significantly higher (p <
0.05) for lambs fed HB diet with 20.52 kg, when compared to lambs fed Control diet with 17.21 kg.
Table 3. Growth performance of Awassi lambs fed concentrate diets containing hydroponic barley.
Control HB SD P-value
Initial body weight (kg) 19.16 18.52 1.39 0.050
Final body weight (kg) 36.36 39.04 2.74 0.000
Total gain (kg) 17.21 20.52 1.37 0.000
Feed Intake (kg/day) 0.65 0.56 0.03 0.000
ADG (g) 191 226 0.01 0.000
FCR 3.39 2.44 0.21 0.000
Diets were: Control (Cont; n=25) and hydroponic barley (HB; n=25).
Lambs feed intake found to be greater (p < 0.05) for lambs fed Control diet than lambs fed HB diet (0.65 kg/day
vs. 0.56 kg/day). Average daily gain was higher (p < 0.05) by lambs fed HB diet with 266 g/gained/day, while
Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare
ISSN 2224-3208 (Paper) ISSN 2225-093X (Online)
Vol.6, No.8, 2016
ADG was 191 g/gained/day for lambs fed Cont diet. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) was affected by the
experimental diets and was lower (p < 0.05) for lambs fed HB diet when compared with the lambs fed the
Control diet (2.44 vs. 3.39). As shown in table 3, final body weight and total gain was improved by lambs fed
HB diet than Control diet. Most studies performed by feeding HB to animals showed similar results to our study.
Gebremedhin (2015) reported that feeding hydroponically grown barley fodder for growing goats increased total
DM intake, feed conversion efficiency, and body weight gain when compared to goats fed concentrate diets.
Moreover, a study performed by Fayed (2011) to find the effect of feeding barley grains that sprouted on rice
straw on performance of growing Barki lambs showed enhancement on those lambs growth performance.
The higher performance in the BW gain of lambs supplemented with hydroponic fodder in this experiment could
be due to the ability of the HB to supply necessary nutrients. This was in line with the concept of Naik et al.
(2014) who reported that hydroponic sprouts is a rich sources of bioactive enzymes and may contain ingredients
that improves the performance of livestock. Tudor et al. (2003) found that the increase in weight gain of lambs
offered barley sprouts may reflects the effect of microbial activity in the rumen and how enhanced nutrient
digestibility. Similar researchers also noticed that using maize hydroponic fodder has been reported to improve
the performance of birds and animals up to 8%. Moreover, feeding hydroponic barley mixed with poor quality
hay to drought master steers gained more by 1.01 kg/head/day when compared to steers fed concentrate diets
(Muhammad et al., 2013; Tudoe et al., 2003). On the contrary, a study performed by Saidi et al. (2015) showed
that HB had no effect on ewes’ average weight. They reported that the level of CP in the HB ration was lower
than the level recommended by NRC, despite the fact that the ewes’ performance was positive. This might be
due to the effects of increased nutrients and the low anti-nutritional factors in HB used in feeding the ewes.
The feed intake in this study greater with lambs fed the control diet. Our results are mostly similar with what was
reported by Saidi et al. (2015) who found that the feed intake of ewes fed HB and the concentrate diet was
similar. Feed intake was not affected by feeding ewes different levels of HB as reported by Shtaya (2004). There
are several factors described as influencing feed intake as production level, temperature, type and quality of
forage, breed, and concentrate ration. In our study, feed intake was not affected by adding HB probably due to
the lower palatability of lambs to HB diet than to the control diet. Average daily gain and FCR on the other hand
were improved with lambs fed HB diet than lambs fed Control diet. These findings were in agreement with data
showed by Fayed (2011) who used barley sprouts grown in rice straw to be fed to growing Barki lambs and
reported an increase in feed intake and gain of those lambs. Intissar and Eshtayeh (2004) reported that using
sprouted barley grains with olive cakes that was fed to ewes gave highest feed conversion efficiency results
when compared to ewes fed the control diets and that might be due to the higher crude protein and energy
contents of the HB diet which provided absorbable nutrients and also enhancing the treated straw nutrients
utilization. Researchers used other type of animals for investigating the effect of HB on their performance.
Cuddeford (1989) described some possible advantages of hydroponic sprouts fed to horses. Morgan et al. (1992),
on the other hand, found that pigs fed 4-day-old sprouts gained significantly less weight than those fed barley
grain. In our study, a positive effect of feeding HB to lambs was shown, which reflects that feeding this type of
feed might be of great benefit to farmers for increasing profit from the lamb meat industry.
4. Conclusion
Due to lack of pastures and high cost of fodder, it is so important to utilize alternative fodders with low cost and
with high nutritive value. Hydroponic is one of the greatest solutions of the shortage in the green fodder found in
our area. In this experiment, growth performance was improved by feeding HB. Therefore, it is recommended
for local farmers to use HB as an alternative fodder for sheep and other livestock. More researches to impact and
support our findings are needed.
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Hydroponics is one of the widely adopted technologies for fodder production in arid and semi-arid regions. In addition to the benefits such as shorter growth period and minimal water and land use, it also produces nutritious fodder that contains essential nutrients required for the growth and reproduction of livestock. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of feeding hydroponic maize fodder on the reproductive performance of buck kids. Twenty-four Tellicherry buck kids aged around 3 months were randomly selected and allocated into three treatment groups, namely, control, treatment 1 (T1), and treatment 2 (T2). Experimental diets were formulated by replacing the concentrate with hydroponic maize fodder at 0% (control), 25% (T1), and 50% (T2) level. The buck kids supplemented with hydroponic maize fodder attained puberty earlier (T1, 246.50 ± 2.61 days; T2, 241.00 ± 2.06 days) (P < 0.05); had higher (P < 0.05) scrotal circumference, testicular volume, and fresh semen characteristics; and exhibited intense sexual behaviors than the non-supplemented kids. Furthermore, hydroponic maize fodder supplementation improved the digestibility of dry matter (DM) (P < 0.01), organic matter (OM) (P < 0.01), crude fiber (CF) (P < 0.05), ether extract (EE) (P < 0.01), and nitrogen-free extract (NFE) (P < 0.01) in the kids. In conclusion, hydroponic maize fodder feeding did not have any negative impact on the reproductive performance of kids. Furthermore, the hydroponic maize fodder supplementation enhanced the kids’ nutrient digestibility and reproductive performance.
In this study, the effect of plant based smoke solutions on yield and forage quality of hydroponic barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was investigated. Two smoke solutions were prepared by burning the harvest residues of oats (Avena sativa L.) and grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.). Wheat and barley grains were primed with five concentrations (0, 1, 5, 10,15%) of the smoke solutions then used in hydroponic systems. Four different trials based on both species (barley and wheat) and smoke solution (oat and grass pea) were separately carried out. The sprout grown in the hydroponic system were harvested at the end of the seventh day and investigated for many forage quality traits such as dry weight, crude protein, Acid Detergent Fiber, Neutral Detergent Fiber and minerals. Consequently, barley and wheat grains were primed with smoke solutions before they were taken to the hydroponic environment and results showed that the yield and quality traits of hydroponic forage can be improved in this way. However, solution source and concentration have critical importance for the expected effect. The dry weigh was found between 79.65 and 85.56 g in barley and 79.33–82.00 g in wheat sprouts. Compared to control, the maximum increase in crude protein of hydroponic barley (41.61%) was obtained from grass pea solution by 1%, while in hydroponic wheat (31.69%) was from oat solution by 1%. According to averaged result, oat solution was generally more effective on the investigated traits in both crops. The present study showed that the smoke solutions altered and promoted the performance of hydroponic wheat and barley forage.
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Hydroponics maize fodder of 7 days growth was fed to 6 dairy cows divided into two equal groups (BW 442 kg; avg. milk yield 6.0 kg). Animals were offered 5 kg concentrate mixture and ad lib. jowar straw along with either 15 kg fresh hydroponics maize fodder (T-HF) or conventional napier bajra hybrid (NBH) green fodder (T-CF) for 68 days. The hydroponics maize fodder (HMF) had higher CP (13.30 vs 11.14, %), EE (3.27 vs 2.20, %), NFE (75.32 vs 53.54, %) and lower CF (6.37 vs 22.25, %), TA (1.75 vs 9.84, %) and AIA (0.57 vs 1.03, %) than NBH. HMF intake was low (0.59 kg DM/d) than NBH (1.19 kg DM/ d) by the cows. However, the DMI (2.05 and 2.17%) was similar in both the groups. Digestibility of CP (72.46 vs 68.86, %) and CF (59.21 vs 53.25, %) was higher (P<0.05) for cows fed HMF. The DCP content (9.65 vs 8.61, %) of the ration increased significantly (P<0.05) due to feeding of HMF; however, the increase (P>0.05) in the CP (13.29 vs 12.48, %) and TDN (68.52 vs 64, %) content was non-significant. There was 13.7% increase in the milk yield of T-HF (4.64, kg/d) than the T-CF group (4.08 kg/d). The feed conversion ratio of DM (2.12 vs 2.37), CP (0.29 vs 0.30) and TDN (1.45 vs 1.52) to produce a kg milk was better in the T-HF than the T-CF group. There was higher net profit of Rs. 12.67/- per cow/d on feeding HMF. It can be concluded that feeding of HMF to lactating cows increased the digestibility of nutrients and milk production leading to increase in net profit.
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The objective of this research was to investigate the biological and economical values of hydro-ponic barley (HB) on lactating Awassi ewes. A total of 48 lactating ewes were used in a feeding trial in two groups. The first was fed a regular lactation TMR ration while ewes in the second treatment were fed similar ration except that regular wheat hay was totally replaced by HB for 120 days feeding trial. Results of the experiment showed that the green fodder yield in 8 days germination cycle was 7.5 kg per 1 kg barley grains of green fodder. HB had no effects on feed intake (FI), body weight changes, milk yield, and milk composition; however, HB had positive effects on ewe's health conditions, mortalities, conception rates and abortion. In conclusion, HB can be used as feed for lactating sheep as cost of feed can be reduced by 42%.
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The studies reported in this research examined the nutrient profile of barley grain when it was sprouted hydroponically. Following sprouting, the measurement of animal response at experimental level and also in a commercial setting was performed in order to test the hypothesis that sprouting gives rise to hydroponic sprouts that give higher animal responses. In first part of the experiment, barley gram was sprouted hydroponically for a duration of 7 days. Daily sampling of the sprouts was done to assess DM concentration and also to determine the nutrient concentration on day 7 in comparison to the unsprouted gram. Results showed a 21.9% loss in DM from the original seed after sprouting for a period of 7 days. A loss of 2% GE was recorded after comparing the sprouts with the original grain. The CP, ash and all other minerals except potassium were lower in concentration on a DM basis in the barley grain than in the sprouts. This was considered to be a reflection of a loss in DM after sprouting causing a shift in concentration of these nutrients. The second phase of the experiment involved in sacco degradation of hydroponic barley sprouts and the unsprouted grain in the rumen of Merino sheep. There was no significant difference (p>0.05) in in sacco degradation when unsprouted grain was compared with hydroponic barley sprouts. It was concluded that the loss of 21% DM followed by a lack of difference in in sacco degradability disproved the presence of any advantage of sprouts over the original grain.
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Effects of form of olive cake (OC) on growth performances and carcass quality were studied on forty-eight Awassi lambs. All lambs were male with an average body weight of 29.5 kg (S.D. = 2.3 kg) at the beginning of the experiment. Animals were randomly divided into four groups of 12 lambs each. Lambs in each group received individually corn–soybean meal (SBM) total mixed rations (TMRs). Rations were incorporated with a fixed amount (149 g/kg DM) of OC of different forms: crude OC, a product of the three centrifugation extraction procedure (control group), alkali treated, ensiled and pelleted. All rations were isonitrogenous and isocaloric. The growth experiment lasted 10 weeks. In the following week, all lambs were slaughtered. At termination of the experiment, lambs fed crude, alkali treated or ensiled OC rations consumed more feed and gained more weight (P<0.05) than those fed the pelleted OC. This same trend was found for the feed conversion (FC), carcass and empty body weights (EBWs). However, external (hide, head and feet, HHF) and thoracic organs (heart and lungs, HL), gut and liver weights proportional to EBW (g/kg) were not affected by the form of OC. The form of OC had no effects on muscle (P=0.4) and bone (P=0.21) tissues. Carcass, pelvic, kidney fats and total carcass fats weights when expressed as g/kg EBW and the percent of carcass fat of total body fat (TBF) were lower in lambs fed the pelleted OC compared to those offered the other forms of OC. However, the subcutaneous, inter muscular and TBF fats weights (g/kg) were comparable among lambs in different OC form rations. Results from this work suggest that the treated OC had no advantages compared to crude in regard to parameters investigated in this research.