Growing Fodder for Chickens

I bought a 50 lb bag of barley last year with the plan to soak it for the chickens each week.  The bin was recently dug out of the garage and I figured I needed to either do it or dump it, so I grabbed a foil pan and got started.  A few days later that pan smelled so roncyh it was evicted to the patio.  It hadn’t gone bad, it was fermenting!  I plan to do another pan this weekend, but realized it’s a waste of money to use a foil pan once and toss it, so I looked into what kind of container I can reuse that is healthy and easy to clean.

This beauty was at the top of my search…

fodder trays

I’m tempted to buy it, mainly because it’s so pretty, but it would be easy enough to DIY.  Find two food-grade plastic containers, drill small drainage holes in one and set it inside the other.  Of course, you don’t get the shelf with this, but not everyone needs the shelf. You could also soak or ferment large batches by using two buckets, drilling small drain holes in the top bucket that holds the grain.

In my search, I ran across other great info, such as the best seeds to use as fodder and how to prep the seeds for sprouting, growing, and fermenting.

The most popular fodder seeds are:

barley

alfalfa

millet

oats

wheat

grain rye

ryegrass

buckwheat

field peas

clover

sorghum

Interesting that black oil sunflower seeds aren’t on the list.

How much fodder to estimate per chicken: 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week.

How to prepare seeds:

*do not feed moldy food of any sort to your animals

*clean water is always best (rain water, well water, etc). Living in the suburbs in the semi-desert, this isn’t an option for us. An old chicken farmer I met said to add a splash of bleach to my water to prevent mold, which turns out to work the best for us.

Sprouted Seeds

  • Rinse your fodder seeds in a small-holed strainer. Put the strainer full of seeds in a bowl and soak over night. Be sure the seeds are covered with water. Mix in a small splash of bleach*.
  • The next day, rinse the seeds, stirring so they’re turned, and put the strainer in the bowl with a canning ring or other way to lift the strainer out of any draining water. Leave in an area where it won’t get any light. Rinse once or twice a day for 2-3 days, till the seeds start to puff up and sprout.

Grow to Fodder

  • Fill a tray with about 1/4″ of seeds.  Rinse the grain, then soak overnight in clean water with a small splash of bleach*.  The next day, drain off the excess water.  Keep the seeds moist, but not wet, till they sprout to the size you want. A spray bottle works well.  Be sure the sprouts have adequate airflow or they’ll get moldy.  They’ll also need light once they sprout.

Fermented Seeds

  • Rinse your seeds, then cover in water and let soak in a cool place, out of bright light. Stir daily, adding water to keep the seeds submerged. When the seeds start to smell sweet, like sourdough, remove the seeds from the water and feed to the chickens. Add new (rinsed) seeds to the fermented water for a quick start to a new batch. (toss the water/batch if it starts to smell sour or become moldy).

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