A New York-based company known for its unique hay-drying process has launched a grassroots, Web-based campaign to raise funds for independent nutrition research on its end products.

“We see this as a way for people who have a love for animals and/or an interest in new technology to participate in something we believe has the potential to dramatically change forage harvesting and improve the nutritional value of animal feeds.” So says Jeff Warren, founder of Top Quality Hay Processors, LLC (TQHP) in Geneva.

TQHP started in 2008. The company’s hay-drying method features a natural-gas-powered oven that turns freshly cut forage into dry hay in under four hours. Hay & Forage Grower stories on the company are Godiva Hay and Working Beautifully.

The company now sells products in 120 outlets in 16 states. Product lines include several varieties of 20- to 23-lb bagged hay bales, 1-lb packages of timothy, alfalfa and orchardgrass-alfalfa hay for small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.) and a bottled feed supplement made using alfalfa leaves.

“We have hundreds of testimonials from people who have fed our products to their animals,” Warren says. “It’s been fantastic. But unless there are research results from major universities verifying what those people are saying, you don’t really have much credibility in the marketplace.”

Specifically, Warren would like universities to undertake nutrition and palatability studies for three target markets – equine, small animals and dairy goats. He estimates the total cost of the studies at $40,000.

To get the funding, he’s put out the word on the Internet through outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a crowd-funding site, Indiegogo. He’s asking people to make a minimum contribution of $5 by Dec. 31.

In November, the first month of the Internet campaign, TQHP raised more than $2,000. “The people who work on crowd-funding projects tell me it takes 30-45 days to build awareness, so we’re getting to the point where we should start seeing some more results,” Warren says.

To build more visibility, he’s asking people to check out a TQHP video on the Indiegogo site. “You move up in the page rankings as more people click on the video. The idea is to advance to the home page, so more people will see your project when they go to the site. We had moved up to the fifth page as of late November.”

Warren stresses that the fund-raising campaign isn’t directed at selling product immediately. “We’re not trying to get anybody to buy anything right now. We’re just trying to give people the opportunity to get involved in something that we think of as truly revolutionary.”