Farmers find free feed for animals
Local farmers have been able to take advantage of a nutritious byproduct from local brewers in Waynesville to feed their animals.
Brewer’s grain, as it is called, is what is left over after a beer is made, but instead of throwing it out, local brewers in Waynesville have partnered with farmers who can pick up the grain and take it home to their animals.
Full of fiber and protein, the mixture typically contains barley, wheat and rye — which make a nutritious feed for cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and other livestock.
Kevin Sandefur, owner of BearWaters Brewing, takes his brewer’s grain home to feed his two horses, Hank and Lucky.
“I’ve been doing it since we started brewing in May 2012,” he said. “I take it home and mix it with their normal diet and they just love it… they’re usually waiting for me when I get home because they know what I’ve got.”
Robert Willis, who worked at Giles with Clark Williams, now co-owner of Frog Level Brewing, has been taking Williams’ brewer's grain off his hands to feed his sheep since Williams started brewing in his house about five or six years ago.
Willis said his sheep farm has grown right along with Williams’ brewery success. He started out just taking a few small tubs a week from him and now he comes by the brewery just about every day to pick up between 12 to 18 35-gallon drums a week.
"I started out with five sheep and now I have about 35," he said.
Willis said he uses the mash to supplement his herd's feed, which includes grains and hay. The large supply of mash from Frog Level helps him stretch out his food budget.
"The sheep love it and it makes my hay go a lot further," he said. "It also helps add a lot of weight to the sheep quickly."
He spreads out the mash out along with hay and grain for the sheep throughout the year. During the warmer summer months, Willis said the mash doesn't stay fresh for more than 48 hours. After that it starts to ferment and smells like vinegar.
While the sheep don't enjoy the smell in the fermenting stage, Willis said they would still eat it. His sheep eat about two barrels a day so usually the mash doesn't last long enough to ferment.
While BearWaters doesn’t produce much mash now, Sandefur said the brewery might look to partner with STAR Ranch in the future as the brewery expands. Because the grain mixture helps add weight quickly to animals, STAR Ranch could use the mash to nurse rescued horses back to health.
Tipping Point Brewery gives its brewer’s grain to Blue Ridge BBQ, which used to be its neighbor on Main Street. The barbecue restaurant is now closed, but owners Chuck and Wendy Rector still offer private catering. The Rectors feed the grain to the pigs on their farm — the source of their barbecue.
While most brewers give the mash away because it’s better than paying for waste disposal, it could be an additional revenue source for brewers in the future. The grain mixture also can be used to feed to birds and even baked goods for people and dog treats.