Port Angeles ranch owners Dave and Beck Seibel show the matured barley and sunflower seed fodder grown in just seven days inside their hydroponic system’s climate-controlled trailer.  —Photo by Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News ()

Port Angeles ranch owners Dave and Beck Seibel show the matured barley and sunflower seed fodder grown in just seven days inside their hydroponic system’s climate-controlled trailer. —Photo by Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News ()

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Hydroponics can cut down fodder bill

“WOW” WAS ALL I could say when I visited Dave and Beck Seibel’s home at Spirit Horse Ranch and saw their hydroponic fodder feeding system.

When I got there, they were adding a mixture of barley and sunflower seeds and placing it in water for a 24-hour soak. They told me in just a week, those seeds would emerge as a completely nutritious feed.

Sounds intriguing, right?

I first heard about a hydroponic fodder or feeding system for horses from a FarmTek agricultural catalog that showed up in my mailbox. In these changing economic times, I like the idea of growing my own feed so I don’t have to rely on others for my horses’ food.

Thus, I was excited when I read on their Facebook page that the Seibels were using a different yet similar fodder system than FarmTek.

The Seibels chose to buy a system completely contained in its own aluminum trailer while others might choose to adapt a portion of their garage or barn.

Dave says it’s a 20-unit system complete with blowers, climate control, LED lights and metal conveyers. The seed trays are placed on the conveyer through the door on the right. Each successive day, the tray is pushed farther along the conveyor as new trays are placed.

Six days later, the finished product emerges from the left door.

“Each horse eats one tray in the morning,” says Dave.

They’ve chosen to feed their animals hay at night, but some use only fodder twice a day.

The Seibels’ system allows them to feed all 16 of their animals, which include horses, mules, cows and chickens, on a weekly basis. Plus, says Beck, “even the dogs love it” and are always trying to snatch chunks away from the horses.

Fodder is a coarse food for livestock composed of entire plants, including stalks and grains, and hydroponics is the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil and in a controlled growing environment year-round.

Within a seven-day cycle, you can grow your own nutrient-dense feed on a daily basis for, as sellers of fodder systems claim, “pennies a pound.”

Keep in mind that the average horse weighs between 1,200 and 1,400 pounds.

Because the fodder receives no ultraviolet light from the sun, it has less sugar, so it’s highly recommended for horses who have foundered or have laminitis. And it’s good for those with digestive tract problems, too.

The Seibels purchase the barley seed in bulk — 1,800 pounds at a time — through Gene Adolphson’s farm in Carlsborg. It takes a tractor to load the giant bag of seeds into Dave’s trailer. Once home, Dave uses his own tractor to unload the bag and place it in his garage.

Of course, those with just one or two horses don’t need to buy in bulk or require such massive equipment to have success. The sunflower seeds they buy from local feed stores will do just as well.

“We were told the system will pay for itself in a year from the savings we get from not having to buy all the extras, like grains or supplements like Farriers Friend,” says Beck.

“We got this back in September, and I can see it paying for itself within a year. But the best thing about it is our horses don’t need those supplements anymore because they’re doing great.”

For example, her big mare had long-term problems with her hooves growing misshapen.

“I’ve had her on all these top hoof supplements going on five years now, and they still looked bad. But with being on this fodder just a few months, they’re all looking good,” Beck says.

Before next winter, I hope to set up my own do-it-yourself hydroponic fodder system. I’ll keep you apprised.


Over the weekend, the Crosby arena hosted the first of two Patterned Speed Horse Association shows this season.

Owner Pam Crosby writes that it was a “fantastic weekend. I am pretty sure this was one of the best shows ever at Crosby’s Arena.”

The fast grounds and good weather helped at least seven riders run “supreme times,” and many attained their personal best times.

Highlights and high-point winners were:

■ Barrels — Saturday, Renee Winans-Turcotte, 14.60; Sunday, Kynzie Mae Hendricks, 14.87.

■ Poles — Saturday, Kynzie, 20.92; Sunday, Tylar Decker, 20.45.

■ Figure-8s — Saturday and Sunday, Waynora Martin, 10.15 and 10.25, respectively.

■   Keyhole — Saturday and Sunday, Tylar, 6.79 and 6.82.

■ Keyrace — Saturday, Ciera Gentry, 8.72; Sunday, Ady Shea Crosby, 8.45.

■ Flags — Saturday, Waynora, 7.79; Sunday, Ady, 8.11.

■ Cal stake — Saturday and Sunday, Waynora, 7.69 and 7.76.

The team of Sam Parks and Kelbi Bower had a 17.86 in two-man, three-barrel flags on their first run ever.

Also, Sam and his son Jamie Parks put two 9s in the books for rescue race.

“We had many new horse-rider combinations who blew our minds with their new mounts,” Pam says.

High point winners

■ Buckaroos — Zoe Thompson, champion; Owen Bond, reserve champion; and Samantha Parks, third place.

■ Juniors — Jack Bower on Della.

■ Intermediates — Kynzie on Hottie.

■ Senior A’s — Kelbi on Ruby Shoes.

■ Senior B’s — Marie Dickinson on Luchesse

■ Super seniors — Waynora on A Breezy Bell.

Jefferson events

■ May 23 — County Mounties 4-H Club Schooling Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 4907 Landes St., Port Townsend.

■ Silver Spurs 4-H Club Show — Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

■ June 14 — Jefferson County 4-H Horse Committee Horse Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

■ June 28 — County Mounties 4-H Club Fun Day Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

■ July 9-12 — Jefferson County 4-H Horse Camp, Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Open to the public.

■ Aug. 1-2 — Jefferson County 4-H Pre-Fair Horse Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

■ Aug. 13-16 — Jefferson County Fair, Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Clallam events

■ May 9-10 — Scott DePaolo Ranch Horsemanship Clinic, Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road, Agnew.

■   June 19-21 — Trevor Carter Snaffle to Hackmore and Cow Work Clinic, Freedom Farm. To register, contact Bill Avery at Will7104@tds.net or 360-601-5040.

For more information on Freedom Farm events, contact Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897 or visit www.freedom-farm.net or the farm’s Facebook page.

■ June 27-28 — Patterned Speed Horse Games, Crosby Arena, 122 Franson Road, Agnew.

Contact Pam at 360-670-3906


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Sunday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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