Drought measure has surprise benefit to Chowchilla rancher

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Rancher Mario Daccarett started growing the bright yellow barley sprouts three years ago because of the drought and rising hay prices. (KFSN)

A Valley farmer who was intent on saving water during the drought discovered his new feed source also created a better tasting product.

The noise level at Golden Valley Farm in Chowchilla peaks once the feed container opens. Fresh barley sprouts are stacked like lawn turf before the feeding frenzy begins.

Rancher Mario Daccarett started growing the bright yellow barley sprouts three years ago because of the drought and rising hay prices.

"This helped us reduce our water consumption by 98 percent so it's very little water because we don't lose it," he said.

Instead of a field, temperature-controlled containers are used to germinate barley seeds and it only takes six days for the sprouts to resemble something you might add to a smoothie.

"This is a way to get more mileage from the sheep," Daccarett explained. "It's very nutritious."

The sheep feed on a 50-50 mix of barley sprouts and hay.

Inside three containers Daccarett can produce 3200 pounds of barley feed each day.

"Every day we're pulling this out, feeding it and planting in the back," he said.

Over 1,000 sheep are milked on the ranch each year and Mario noticed the change in feed also improved the taste of his sheep's milk.

"It makes an extremely high-quality milk that makes excellent cheese," he said.

Golden Valley Farm's sheep's milk cheese is sold at Whole Foods in Fresno but it is also very popular around the state.

Daccarett's son serves as company cheesemaker.

"Sometimes people think it's like this new thing were experimenting with," he said. "They don't realize in Europe and in the old world really it's been done since forever."

The sheep can't get enough of the barley sprouts and consumers can't get enough of the cheese.

Mario was headed to Beverly Hills to make a delivery.
Related Topics:
newsfresno countydroughtfarmingChowchilla
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