2016 - Volume #40, Issue #6, Page #10[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He’s Turning Palm Fronds Into Tasty Livestock FeedJim Parks has hijacked 2 waste products on the way to the landfill and turned them into tasty treats for livestock. Palm fronds and lesser quality dates had no market until he ground them up, pelleted them and started selling them under the Palm Silage brand.
“We’ve had an amazing response to the pellets and what we call Sweet Date Feed,” says Parks. “Right now we are focusing on the small farmer with a few head up to medium size operations with 30 to 50 cows. Hogs especially love the pellets, but it has been fed to cows, horses, goats, sheep, emus, ostriches and donkeys.”
From a nutritional standpoint, palm fronds are similar to medium grade hay. However, it’s extremely fibrous and hard to work with. After seeing goats eat palm fronds in Tunisia, Parks spent years working on ways to feed them to U.S. livestock. He figured out how to grind them up, but palatability was still a problem.
“The dates are the secret ingredient,” says Parks. “They’re rocket fuel for livestock. They serve as a binder and sweetener. We also add canola meal and a bit of wheat nibs and rice bran to fatten the animal.”
Parks explains that while the dates would be acceptable in most countries, the American consumer rejects anything with the slightest blemish. Until he developed a process to use them in the palm pellets, they were considered a waste product.
Parks packages pellets in 50-lb. bags and distributes them from California to Wyoming. Sales have been so strong that he is ramping up production with a new pelleting mill.
He also sells a mixture of ground palm fronds and date crumbles as a forage replacer. The Sweet Palm Hay is packed in 450-lb. totes or super sacks.
“One customer takes them out on the range and drops them like he would a big round bale,” says Parks.
The pellets retail for $12.99, less if by the pallet. The totes sell for $50.
“They both offer very affordable nutrition,” says Parks. “As a feed, they’re worth far more than we charge. However, we get the basic ingredients for a very reasonable price and as a farmer myself, I want to pass the deal on to other farmers. They are very sustainable. No extra water is used to grow them. What used to go to landfills is now going to animals, and the results are amazing.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup,
Palm Silage, Inc., 55755 Tyler St., Thermal, Calif. 92274 (ph 760 578-5314; www.palmsilage.com).
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