Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fodder or Sprouted Grains for Farm Animals

Here I go. Always thinking of something new and different to try. Trying to save money that is. Eat healthier too. Not to mention that grain and hay have gone through the roof this year. That is why I started searching the internet for alternatives. I found some wonderful ideas and sites I am sharing. The most valuable site I found was on Youtube. This lady really did a great job of explaining their set- up. I love videos!
   First thing,  I bought was  a shelf at Menards for $50. I suppose if you were really crafty, had extra time, you could make your own from 2x4's quite easily. I didnt have the extra time. The seeds, ohhhh! dont make the mistake I made! I was following another blog, NO PICTURES, big warning!!!! I think  "those" blogs really dont do as they say they do! Make sure to buy sprouting seeds! When in doubt, buy a very small bag and try a small container like in  a pint jar small, soak your seeds, drain and see if they will sprout BEFORE your buy the biggie bags! Speaking of seeds I bought mine from They are organic and are truly Sprouting Seeds. I know the shipping is costly, its all part of that dreaded, initial start up. I started out with just Barley. My trays were from  You will want both kinds. Ones with holes for drainage and ones without holes. I also got the plastic domes to help jump start the process, just in case!
One more item,  You will need just about 1T per tray.

Now for the process. Set up your trays. You will want one with the holes to go into the one that doesnt have holes. This will become more clear after you read all this. (Deep breath)  Now take about 1/2 cup of Barley seeds or whatever sprouting seeds recipe you have decided to go with. For now Im stating just Barley. More about what Im playing with later. Put in your 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar  from now on you will know this as  ACV. I fill my trays with enough water just so the seeds are covered. Place a dome top on them if you wish, if not, no biggie. Now place them on your self. In front of a sunny window preferably. I have also added grow lights. I make mine. Shocker!!!! I use a 4 ft garage fixture, fluorescent.  One bulb being cool, one warm. You will  want nothing higher or lower than 5000 kalvins for plants. This will be printed on your bulbs container. Dont go for the expensive ones that state they are just for "growing plants." Mine are much more affordable and work just as well. I have had mine for almost 4 yrs now and have grown many plants. In fact I start all my gardens planting needs under these babies!  Ok back to the sprouts. In one day you will notice little white tails forming from your Barley seeds. Perfect! Day two, pull up the tray with just the holes, letting the soaking water fall through to other tray, you know the one with OUT holes. I have another tray without holes, ready to hold the rinsed tray. Lightly rinse your seeds disposing of the soaking water. Or you can save this water for your animals or other plants.  Put the tray with the rinsed sprouts into the new tray without holes  together and again back on the shelf. Rinse your previously used tray without holes out very well. Did that make sense?  It sounds like a LOT of water. And a LOT of work. Its not really. Once you get going with your set-up you will find a system that suits you. I do this each day. Heres the tricky part. I have a 5 tray shelf. Each day I move up a new batch of sprouted seeds. Until day 6, those trays go to the barn as my animals feed. And the process starts over again with the soaking of the seeds in the ACV. You need  to add ACV only on day one. NOT every day. The ACV helps to remove the Phytic Acid more on that here

Ok so thats the process. As you can see in the photos Iam experimenting with other seeds. Like Black Sunflower and Corn. I am also playing with making up my own chicken feed. Chickens require a very complex feed. I have read that we know more about their nutritional requirements than our own! I have had issues with other layer feeds that have made my hens egg bound and or they were not able to walk. So its a very tricky feed. For now I am sprouting Sunflower, Corn and Barley as a supplement to their layer feed, still looking for a more healthy alternative. I am confident that my feed needs will be cut drastically doing this sprouted fodder animal feed.  I am still in the experimental stage, talking with others who are trying to figure this all out as well! I think we are on to something wonderful for all though.A special Thank You to my friend Aaron :)
For the hens  feed they do not always like the full grown grass but prefer the just sprouted stage as above  in the photo of Sunflower sprouts. In the winter my hens do love the full grown grass of Wheatgrass grown in dirt! By the way Wheatgrass is the seed of Red Hard Winter Wheat sprouted or grown in soil.When I do this for my hens  they make a happy cluck! cluck!  scratching in the soil too. Being that in winter our ground is frozen I think its a real treat for them that I am more than happy to provide!
One more thing about the sprouts. I know its really easy to go crazy with wanting to sprout many types of seeds, however there are some that you just cant do this way. Two being FLAX and CHIA seeds. They will sprout, on wet paper towels or in soil, just not soaked.  More on the whys here And for the Hello Mrs not give your animals the paper towels. Pull off the sprouts then feed to animals....just in case ;)
I am still in the beginning stages, so far my critters really seem to be pretty happy with it! Oh joy!  I do not change their feeds over night. I give them a little as I go, as you can see just a handful to the horse, Casper. You never change feeds drastically your animals can  colic, and then you are in serious trouble. So take it slow.
I know this was a very long blog. And I did add lots of photos. A picture is worth a thousand words and so is this blog! LOL!
For the record I am not a Sprout Master, nor a Vet. I am sharing this info with you to help you  save money,  feed your farm healthier and hopefully, reducing our carbon foot print as well. I believe that what our food eats therefore we do as well and I am doing the best I can to make it all happen. ~ Angela


Annnightflyer said...

Your llama is looking over the gate as to to say MOM come feed me!How cute.Good idea on the feed.I'm already finding out more and more about chickens.Chickens like us like fresh foods so why not?And if it keeps them healthy thru winter right?

Lawrence said...

I am totally convinced of the feasibility of hydroponic fodder as an alternative to conventional hay and grain. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

I love the photos of the gang!

Life at Purple Gate Farm said...

Anninightflyer, My Llamas name is Jeff. He is beyond words! I love him so much! And you are very right! The fresher the better. What our hens eat, we do as well through their eggs and if you are raising chickens for meat ditto again!

Life at Purple Gate Farm said...

Lawrence, I do Aquaponics here in The Church. If going with Barley do keep in mind that the water will need regular cleaning, it gets very foamy and stinky! But a wonderful way to grow!

Life at Purple Gate Farm said...

Hi Rileysmom :) Thank you, all the gang says "HI!"

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blogs! Great advice about the fodder! My hubby & I read a lot, and came upon a great resource books about farming. One we really have found helpful is "Productive Poultry Husbandry" by Harry R. Lewis. This one of the Lippincott's Farm Manuals book series. (1921) version. On page 189 he writes about fodder, growing and various grains. Amazing this was done years ago to supplement poultry layer feed!! Sonburst Farm, LLC, NC