Sprouted Fodder Update

Sprouted barley fodder is, by far, the best thing that has ever happened to this tiny farm. The rabbits have absolutely flourished and the chickens have kept up in their egg production. But… you saw that ‘but’ coming didn’t you? But, fodder is really hard to properly sprout in the summer. It didn’t help that this year is the hottest and longest summer we have had in thirty years either. It is simply too hot for consistently sprouting grains in the volume that our animals consume on a daily basis. If we were using fodder as a treat and not as a dietary staple, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but we cannot afford to fall behind in feed-ready fodder due to warm temperatures. The point is, we can only do our very best, and at this time, we have to supplement our fodder with grains in the warm months.

So here is the plan:

— Winter and Spring Rabbit Feed —

  • 6% of total body weight in sprouted barley fodder for each; daily
  • 1/4 cup black oil sunflower seeds; daily or as eaten
  • free-choice hay; usually timothy or orchard grass
  • mineral salt block; available at all times
  • fresh water; available at all times

— Winter and Spring Chicken Feed —

  • 3-4% of total body weight in sprouted barley fodder for each; daily
  • free-choice oyster shell (or other calcium supplement); available at all times
  • appropriate kitchen and garden scraps
  • fresh water; available at all times

— Summer and Fall Rabbit Feed —

  • 1 cup of dry grain mix; for each rabbit, daily
  • fresh foraged weeds/greens
  • free-choice hay; usually timothy or orchard grass
  • mineral salt block; available at all times
  • fresh water; available at all times

— Summer and Fall Chicken Feed —

  • free-choice soaked barley
  • free-choice oyster shell (or other calcium supplement); available at all times
  • appropriate kitchen and garden scraps
  • fresh water; available at all times

My fancy pantsy “dry grain mix” will be purchased as separate grains and then mixed into a bulk feed to keep feeding time simple. I have already transitioned the rabbits to their Summer Feed and what made it especially easy on their sensitive stomachs was the fact that they eat all of these ingredients already. An easy way of thinking of it is that Winter and Spring Feed is wet, while Summer and Fall Feed is dry, but they are the same ingredients.

The “soaked barley” for the chickens will be 1-2 day soaked barley seed. This way, I won’t have to depend on the grain sprouting in temperatures too hot for consistent sprouting and I also won’t have to worry about mold.

— Dry Grain Mix for Rabbits :: Bulk Formula —

  • 50 lbs. of barley seed (rolled or whole is fine)
  • 50 lbs. of rolled oats (rolled is prefered, but use what you can find)
  • 25 lbs. of black oil sunflower seeds

33 thoughts on “Sprouted Fodder Update

  1. This is a great post. You might enjoy reading this http://www.qcl.farmonline.com.au/files/48/20/01/000012048/Hydroponicfodder.pdf
    We are contemplating doing 3-4 days sprouted seed instead of the 8 day. Here is our recipe for non pelleted feed.
    2 part whole oats
    1 part whole barley
    1/2 part whole BOSS or flax
    1 part whole or split peas

    This is the base we are feeding our livestock (all of them, rabbits goats, chickens, ducks) The goats also get mineral suplements and everyone gets fresh scraps from the kitchen garden and lawn daily. Salt licks and calcium are available to ea animal as appropriate.

    Cannot wait to read how your experiment goes!

  2. Are you still raising the fodder in your house or did you move it outside? My hose doesn’t have AC so I’m not sure if it would work in the summer.

    • I WAS growing it inside, but we only have a swamp cooler (not a/c) that isn’t very new (read: older than God) and can really only keep the inside of the house at 86 degrees on a 96 degree day. Ten whole degrees makes a great difference to us humans, but the fodder wouldn’t grow. So I moved it under the house in our storage area, but the poor ventilation started to promote mold growth.

      When we buy our own house (hopefully someday soon) I will need to build a special outbuilding or add proper ventilation to a garage in order to keep the fodder growing well year-round. Someday…

      • I was afraid of that….I could try it in my basement, I suppose. Other than using cold water I don’t think there was anything you could do about the heat. (Probably wouldn’t work anyway)

        The only way we can live in summer is to have fans on high everywhere, doorways, over beds, pointing up from the basement and into the attic. Uggh!

  3. We are in southern AZ and have a swamp cooler too, I had to move our fodder in the house after not doing any at the beginning of the really hot days (mid-June) and the bunnies missed it terrible. I’ve been doing it in the sink (my kitchen sink is large thank God) alternating 2 bins about 3 days apart and it’s doing well, though hubby is not happy about a garden in the sink-his words. We also quit doing the 4×4 foot box in the chicken pen until the heat dies back a bit. It was taking too much water.

  4. Fresh Eggs Daily

    FED friend Robin Travis is in need of anyone that raises Quail:

    Can anyone help me out with quail questiions?

    Do you give quail medicated feed or not? If so what feed as I got one type of gamebird medicated feed with a certain drug an now their dying.. I”m really upset..

    In need of help ASAP!!

    if you can help, Sarah, I am sure Lisa at fresheggsdaily.com would be able to pass on the info

  5. I am in Tucson with swamp cooling. I am loving the fodder I am growing in the house now that we are back from our vacation and I can seriously concentrate on it. It’s been about 80 in here all summer so barley, mung beans, lentils, quinoa, and buckwheat all sprouted fine. The oats did not. They are waiting for cooler weather. I have come up with a variation of your shelfing that is working wonders (in the couple days I’ve actually had it set up.) I even had some fodder growing in a pyrex dish that I aired out upside down an put in my new system. The smell has gone away. I’ve been growing fodder on fabric on baking cooling racks for about a week. I finally got the system set up and just put the fodder from different days in different crates.

    I got 10 sterilite file crates http://www.sterilite.com/SelectProduct.html?id=395&ProductCategory=193&section=1

    I bought them on sale at Target $3 each, though the regular price is only $3.49. I also got a pan with wheels for them to sit in http://www.sterilite.com/SelectProduct.html?id=607&ProductCategory=252&section=1

    Sterilite products are made without BPA, pthalates, and a bunch of other stuff. I had wanted to stay away from plastic, but could not figure out how to do so without spending an arm and a leg, this seemed like the best solution.

    I made two columns of five crates each. The bottom two crates are simply to keep the fodder out of any drainage water that accumulates in the wheeled pan. I stack the other crates with newer fodder on top and one day’s older fodder each crate down. Twice a day I wheel it over to my sink. I have a hose on my faucet that reaches over. I spray a fair amount of water into the top crate. The water then goes all the way down. After it’s no longer dripping I lift the stack of crates out of the pan and set them on the counter or floor. I dump the pan and put the crates back in the pan. At night I just leave it there since everyone’s in bed and I’ll just need to move in back in the morning.

    There are big holes in the bottom of the crates which allows for air flow. I experimented with growing sprouts on paper towel but that was consumed by the roots. Right now I am trying cloth napkins I had laying around. We’ll see how that goes. I may try unbleached muslin. I’d love any suggestions on other products to use that will allow the water to drain, isn’t susceptable to mold, and doesn’t contaminate the fodder.

    Like I said, the mold smell from the oldest batch I had went away after I turned it upside down and let it air out overnight.

    If there is a way for me to post a picture I’d be happy to share it.

    Also, this is fairly large because of the height of each crate. However, in my situation it doesn’t really matter since I can put it in a corner. The footprint would remain unchanged, it’s just the height that is big. (Though probably smaller than using a shelving unit.) For a smaller amount of fodder on a daily basis you could use the mini-crates instead. These might even be small enough to be put on a countertop, but I’m not sure. http://www.sterilite.com/SelectProduct.html?id=62&ProductCategory=193&section=1

    • I think fodder is naturally susceptible to mold simply because the roots and sprouts of so many seeds are growing in close proximity to each other. Poor airflow and circulation is always going to be a problem. That’s why depth of seeds sprouting is most important. Too many seeds means less air which leads to mold.

      I do really like your crate idea though! I have a bunch of those laying around. It’s great that you are also keeping an eye out for BPA-free plastics. Kudos!

      If you send me a photo by email (fmicrofarm@gmail.com) I would be happy to post a picture of your set up. 🙂 Good luck in your fodder growing!

      • My barley fodder that I am growing in crates is so abundant that i am having to give excess to a neighbor’s chickens (until my smaller batches come of age.) I was growing 1 pound of seed for 10 chickens, but they just weren’t eating it all. I am still giving them about 1/4 the grain I was giving them before because I believe in feeding a variety of foods, but the cost of feeding them has dropped dramatically. I have also started putting a few bean seeds in the fodder mixture also as a way to get variety in their diet.

        I put the second column of crates outside to get sun during the day because the crates in my dark corner cut out too much light. I do not need to cover the first few days with a towel as I’d initially thought I would.

        I have figured out how to get rid of the mold. After I rinse the top crate and let the water drip to the pan at the bottom I wait for the crates o stop dripping. Then I simply tilt each crate on its side over the sink or the concrete patio (if I’ve moved them outside) to drain off the last tablespoon or two of water. This adds about a minute to the process twice a day. Unbleached muslin and cotton napkins on top of elevated cookie cooling racks both make fine mediums for growing the fodder. The roots do grow through the cotton but the fodder is easily removed and the roots remaining in the napkin wash away if put through the washer AND dryer (they have to go through a dryer, so if I can someday get back off the dryer I’m not sure how it would go.) I tried window screening as a base. I thought it would be a problem when the roots grew through it. Although it was a bit more work to remove the fodder, it wasn’t that big a deal and the screening wasn’t damaged. The problem was that it dried out so well that the only place the barley actually grew was over the wood strips underneath the cooling racks–a place with a bit of extra moisture. I also tried paper towels. It grew fine but I had to cut the paper towel out of the roots so my chickens wouldn’t get bound up. Not that complicated a process, but the cotton is working so well there was no need to do that. My MIL had a fall and we had to go out of town quickly. This process is so simple I was able to have a neighbor take care of it while we were gone.

        I am so pleased I got to see your video on growing fodder AND that my search of my local stores for a non-plastic alternative led me to these crates. Although my fodder is technically growing in BPA and pthalate free crates, because the fodder is elevated by wood and cooling racks and is on top of cotton I feel I’ve come up with an economical, effective alternative. And I like that my system is on wheels and I can easily move it around. For now it is in a corner of the kitchen, but if I need to I can easily move it to the garage.

        Did you get the photos I emailed. I would like it if other folks could see what my version of this system looks like.

      • I’m so glad you tried the window screening. It doesn’t sound like it worked too well so now I know not to try it. Fabric would be easy. I was thinking of stapling it to a wooden frame, but if you think the fabric needs to be washed and dried after a cycle of fodder, that might not work out too well. Are you just setting the fabric in the crates then? I especially love that you have it on wheels!

        I did receive your email (sorry if I didn’t send a confirmation). I am waiting for one other person to send in a photo of their set up and then I plan to do a post on all the different ideas people have. Thanks for those pictures by the way! It would be great if you could send one more of what the fabric looks like inside when you put the grain in.

      • Looks like the above replies are out of order. What I did in the crates to keep the cotton off the plastic is…for each crate my husband cut 3 strips of board about 1″ x 1″ and the width of the crate (so, for a setup with 8 functioning crates and 2 vacant crates on the bottom that would be 24 strips.) Then I got baking cooling racks at the dollar store. They came in sets of 2 that, by good fortune, fit perfectly in the crate when I overlap two of them in each crate (does that make sense? the cooling racks are the same length as the crate, but narrower. With two of them I overlap them and they fill the width completely.) Then I set the cotton on top of the cooling racks. The cotton is just a bit wider and longer than the crate bottom so it makes a little lip up the side to keep the seed from washing away when I rinse it. Putting the fabric right on top of the plastic, even though it has ventilation/drainage holes, gets moldly (I learned from stinky experience.) Enough of the roots grow through the fabric that you do have to pull the fodder off the fabric. Not complicated and washing and drying the fabric does get rid of most of the roots. I also like to wash the fabric to keep down the mold. At first this all stunk but I have gotten to the point that it doesn’t (elevating the fabric made a huge difference.) The other thing I had reinforced this morning is how important it is to just tilt each crate after they have drained awhile. There’s only a couple tablespoons of water remaining after its drained, if even that, in most crates, but it can cause mold. The more mature the barley the more water there is because it doesn’t drain through the root structures as easily. I was tired last night so didn’t do it and woke up to a stinky kitchen. I rinsed and drained and all was well again.

      • No, I keep the crates stacked on top of each other then just spray water on the top and let it drizzle down. Then I take the older column into the sun and tilt each one outside. The crates that are still in the house I tilt to drip into the sink, though sometimes I tilt them over the drip pan. Then I dump the drip pad down the sink.

  6. Emailed photos. I read on shttp://sproutpeople.org/supply/sprouters/hempbag.html that hemp is good for sprouting as it dries quickly. I looked at buying some for my crates. I’m finding $25 a yard online. Still looking for the ideal surface for the bottom of my crates.

      • So far in the last 6 days that I have been using fabric it is working. The roots aren’t growing through it yet. It’s 100% cotton (dyed blue, it’s what I had.) It’s a really thick weave. It’s actually not draining as well as I hoped, it is staying damp. However, it doesn’t seem to be moldy. Yet. I will keep you informed as I see how this works. One thing I’ve considered as time goes on is to get cooling racks to put under the napkins then there will be more air to help dry out the bottom. That will require scrounging at thrift stores, wait. I saw some at the dollar store the other day. Maybe I’ll get some of those and see how it does at helping the napkins dry.

  7. I have a question. We live in Tucson and it’s cooling down, but is still over 100. When I take the fodder to the chickens they scratch at it and anything they don’t eat right away shrivels up and they won’t eat it. I’ve started taking fodder to them every couple hours. I’m a SAH/homeschooling mom so am often home throughout the day. There are days when our activities take us away for more than a few hours so the chickens go without their fodder dose. Today I just gave them some grain feed to tide them over until I got home. How do you feed your fodder to your chickens so it doesn’t get destroyed and ignored?

    • When I grow fodder, I usually have one of the trays for the day that are less green than the others. That’s what I give to the chickens. I think they like more grain and less green in their fodder. Sometimes I even give them a 6 or 7 day old fodder instead of the full 8 day growth. I also chop their fodder into palm-sized clumps. My theory is that they are more likely to eat it faster if there is more surface area to look at. Chickens are weird like that.

  8. I soak and ferment my feed. I notice you talk about soaking and concern about mold. If you soak feed in a bucket, always keep the grain covered with water, stir 2 times a day the feed will never go moldy. It will only ferment. Fermented feed is the best feed for animals. As you scoop out their feed simply replace what you yolk, stir and make sure their is lots of water and put a lid on lose. Bubbling is good. A thin white film is the mother. Just stir it in. Clean the bucket and start over once a month. I personally ferment feed and give fodder in the winter. Research fermented feed. Amazing benefits especially for poultry and fowl. By the way feed will at least double and nothing will be left behind so less feed needed and no waste.

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