Alternative Forage and Fodder Crops for Livestock Production

Increased costs of feed and the desire to enhance on-farm livestock feed production have created a need for alternative fodder and forage crops. Historically, many crops such as fodder beets, swedes, carrots and kale were used for livestock feed. Many small-scale crop producers in western Washington are looking to diversify their farming operations to include livestock. This interest has developed from the decreased sales they are realizing from vegetable and small fruit crops at direct sale venues. With their knowledge of crop production and access to equipment necessary to produce these alternative forage crops, the ability to diversify their operations with livestock becomes more feasible. This project field tested six different crops for yield, yield quality, animal nutritional quality, and animal feed choice preference.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 078
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Benedict, C., Corbin, A.
  • Grant Amount: $26,270




Six WSU Extension publications have been developed, of which, four have been fully accepted and are in the process of being finalized. An additional two will result within the project period highlighting field results and findings. A Washington Tilth Producers Quarterly publication was written highlighting the first year of project results which is circulated to over 300 farmers. An additional story is schedule to run in the Oregon Tilth’s newsletter. We have developed a single clearing house of information on the web ( that allows for other agricultural professionals and producers to access up to date information on research findings, a narrated virtual tour, and links to other educational materials. This website has been circulated numerous times via in-person presentations and e-mail listservs.

Peer reviewed journal publication:

Benedict, C.A., A. T. Corbin, J.H. Harrison, and C. A. Miles. 2015?. Case Study: Alternative fodder crops for livestock feed in western Washington. The Professional Animal Scientist. In Press.

Additional Funds Leveraged

Various Seed Companies: $2,000 2010


CSANR BIOAg funding was used during the first year of this project to initiate four field trials at commercial farms throughout the central Puget Sound region. These trials are designed to generate practical knowledge for integrated crop/livestock producers to help reduce their production costs. Results from field trials showed that yields were comparable (in many cases higher) than other reported results and laboratory analysis showed that yield quality surpassed our expectations. All participating producers expressed interest in further use of these crops in their production systems (We consider participating producers as “lighthouse” producers, whom many in the agricultural community look to for answers). First year results are suggestive of widespread use of these crops for livestock production. In particular, co-mingling (supplementing) existing feedstocks with low-cost vegetable forage/fodder crops shows great promise and will be examined in future projects.

Over 60 people attended a seminar on results from this project at the WA Tilth Producers Annual Meeting. Ten producers have agreed to trial these crops on their farms at various locations around the state with minimal oversight of project PI’s. We do intend to coagulate this information and integrate it into our field reports. Web analytics of the newly created