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Patented Forage Fights Parasites
AU Grazer is an all-natural dewormer, in the pasture or the bag. It was developed by Auburn University from Sericea lespedeza, a plant species often considered a weed. AU Grazer fixes nitrogen in the soil and reduces the parasite load in sheep, goats and cattle. It can be grazed, baled or bagged for sale as a feed supplement.
“You don’t have to feed it every day to prevent worms,” says Tom Sims, Sims Brothers. “If your herd or flock has parasites, just feed 2 percent of body weight per day. It will clear up stomach worms like the barber pole worm and control coccidia.”
Sims remembers when the legume was called the poor man’s alfalfa. Today his family’s seed business is the licensed dealer for the patented AU Grazer and the only certified seed producer. While most of their acres are devoted to seed production, they graze their own cattle on it. The remainder is baled up as young plants or the leaves are harvested later in the season with a specialized combine.
“At about a foot in height, it makes high-quality hay,” says Sims. “It’s as high in protein as a lot of our grasses. As the plant matures, the leaves to stem ratio changes, and we harvest just the leaves. We cut the plants and windrow them to dry. Then we run them through our modified combine.”
The belt drive pickup feeds the windrow into the combine where the threshing action separates the dry leaves from the stems. Big fans mounted on the side of the combine pull the leaves out and blow them into a modified cotton wagon hitched to the combine.
“We lined the cotton wagon with a fine mesh screen to hold the leaves,” explains Sims. “They are dumped into a pit and run through a hammer mill to grind them up. We mix them with molasses and pelletize them.”
The molasses helps with the pelleting and makes the pellets more palatable for animals that have never tasted the plant. Sims explains that as the plant matures, the natural tannins increase. This gives the plant a bitter taste.
“Livestock only graze it in the spring when it is young and tender,” says Sims.
Sims Brothers sells the pellets wholesale to Faithway Feeds and New Country Organics. They retail for $25 to $35 for a 50-lb. bag. The farm’s biggest problem, according to Sims, is keeping up with demand.
Sims charges $5 per lb. for the seed and recommends a 20 to 25 lb. per acre seeding rate. The initial investment has a long-term payback with an expected 10-year life span. Getting it established is easy as well. He suggests planting it at about a 1/4-in. depth with a Brillion-type drill designed for small seed, noting that it is similar to alfalfa in size.
“It doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer, and you can get 3 to 4 cuttings per year,” says Sims. “If you cut it at the right stage, you don’t need to take just leaves.”
The Sims aren’t the only ones selling the specialty forage at a premium. Langford Farms, Autaugaville, Ala., planted 300 acres of AU Grazer in 2013. They bought the seed from Sims Brothers. They sell small square bales of the hay for $8 from the field. They also graze their cattle herd on it, as well as grind the hay for custom feed blends that they sell to goat producers. They report customers driving several hours for the hay.
Sims reports at least two customers who are building pelleting mills of their own and others like the Lanfords who sell the hay.
“We have customers as far north as Pennsylvania and west to Missouri, but especially in Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas,” says Sims. “We didn’t think it would take off as quickly as it did. The demand increased overnight.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sims Brothers, 3924 County Rd. 87, Union Springs, Ala. 36089 (ph 334-738-2619; service@simsbrothers.com; www.simsbrothers.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2