Monday, November 16, 2015

Animal Care | How To Sprout Fodder For Your Chickens

Earlier I shared how to sprout grain for livestock and also a few of the benefits of feeding sprouted grains to your animals. Aside from the boost in protein and vitamins that soaking and sprouting gives grains, it is also very economical to sprout grains. A 20kg bag of wheat lasts me a lot longer when I sprout it than when I feed it dry. Obviously I don't sprout the whole bag at once! 
To learn more about the benefits of sprouts, read my original article here.

Today I'm going to share with you another thing you can do with your sprouts. I call it extending the sprouts, although you could also call it fodder, micro greens or wheat grass (or in the case of the grain pictured above, barley grass).

I feed my chickens sprouted wheat the majority of the time, but sometimes I like to change up their diet with dried mixed grains, homemade mashes or barley fodder grass. It's enjoyable to feed to the chickens, too, as they go quite mad over it. They really do love their barley grass.

So what exactly is it?

It is basically letting the sprouted grain grow until it produces a nice long green shoot. This takes about a week and to get a really good result I change the sprouting technique a little.

As with sprouts, you could use any grain for this but I recommend sticking to either wheat or barley to get the best results. My personal preference is barley, as I find it grows green shoots quicker than wheat, and as I already said my chickens get wheat most of the time anyway.

How To Sprout Fodder Grass For Your Chickens

Soak and sprout your chosen grain as explained here.
On day 3 of sprouting, the grain should have a white tail on one end.
This is when the sprouting technique changes.

Put the sprouts into a tray
I use black seedling trays - the ones with the small holes or slits in the bottom of them. The holes can be larger than those on the sieves as you only put the grain in here once it has started to sprout.

I soak approximately 2 kilos of dry barley and on day three it spreads into 3 seedling trays.

Spread the sprouts among the trays and try to make it as even as possible. They'll be in their trays for another 4-5 days until they are ready to feed to your chickens.

Continue to rinse the trays everyday as you would for regular sprouts - but don't touch the grain. Leave it flat in it's tray and just run the water over the top of it without turning the sprouts around.

After 1 day the roots will grow together across the bottom to form a mat, and a few days later they'll start sprouting green shoots on top. If you turn the sprouts over as usual they won't know which way to grow and you'll have some growing upside down and sideways. So don't confuse your sprouts!

You can feed the barley grass as soon as the shoots are your desired length. As with any seed, not all the grains will sprout. For some reason I find the middle of the sprouting tray to have a lower success rate, but the chickens happily gobble up those grains anyway.

A note on quantity - the 2 kilos of dry grain translates into 3 seedling trays of barley grass.
1 & a half trays is a days feed for 18 bantams, my laying flock of 6 and Martha the duck.
If your chickens don't have access to greens and bugs as mine do, you'd probably feed the same amount of birds 2 trays a day as opposed to 1 and a half. So as you can see it is still a very economical option.
The quantity fed is much the same with the sprouted wheat, especially when fed on day 3 when the protein has increased by 300%.

So, will you being growing some micro greens for your chickens?
Let me know how you go.

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  1. You have very lucky, well fed chickens Sarah! They deserve it, of course x

  2. I'm so glad I found your blog Sarah. We have five Isa Browns and are new chicken owners and lovers. I am going to sprout Barley for them. I'm thinking of 1 kilo and see how that goes. Also, where do you buy your Barley?
    Your explanations and instructions and wonderful, a big thankyou.
    Now I have a lot more reading to do in your blog.
    Have a great day.


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