I’ve been reading a lot about fodder systems lately for livestock feed – essentially you have a setup where you sprout a lot of seeds of barley or some other food grain, and it grows mats of grasses for the animals to eat. There are some big farms that have larger scale fodder systems, and some people have set up diy fodder systems that seem to work well. I don’t have a lot of space at the moment, but I wanted to see how this would work for my chickens. I started with a large plastic food container, and I also have a seed sprouter (for sprouting alfalfa and bean sprouts) that I figured I’d use. I bought the sprouter several years ago, and some seeds to sprout, but then never actually grew the sprouts. So I had a lot of seed to work with. In the large plastic container I threw some bird seed that our wild birds outside want nothing to do with (they are picky and will only eat black sunflower seed).
I wasn’t sure if the chickens would really be interested in this – usually they’ll eat anything though, so I figured it was worth a try. One of the seed trays from the sprouter ended up having large sprouts right away – they weren’t growing in a mat yet, so I dumped them into a little plastic container and just set that on the floor of the chicken house. They went nuts for it. I’m still growing the large container, it has some sprouts but is not yet a mat of sprouts. You need to rinse the seeds/sprouts in cold water a couple times daily to keep mold from forming and to keep the sprouts healthy. I don’t have holes in that container, I just swish some water in and slowly dump it out, so I don’t know that it will actually grow into a mat since they swish around so much. I’m getting a lot of sprouts though, it should be ready in a couple days.
My other tray from my seed sprouter should be ready pretty quickly too:
I’ll have to see if the chickens like the rest of these – if so I’ll try to devise a better system later this spring. There are tons of diy fodder system ideas on the internet. The best way would be to have bigger trays with holes for water to drain, and several trays going so that you always have fodder. If I can get a system going this works for rabbits and other animals too – I’ve seen online where some people feed their goats and cows from sprouted fodder. I’d love to be able to grow most of my animal feed on my own instead of buying bags of feed all the time, or at least be able to cut down on store-bought feed.
It will be interesting to hear how the homegrown sprouts will affect the quality of the eggs! yolk color, etc.
That would be interesting to find out. I’ll have to do a larger scale test to see – I fed them the sprouts today and they loved them. 🙂 The eggs from the next few days will be incubated though – I’m getting a new incubator on Saturday, I need to get some friends for Peepers, he’s pretty lonely. I’ll grow some new sprouts and let you know in a week or so if they changed anything in the eggs.
We ended up eating the eggs, since we ordered chickens instead of incubating them – I didn’t notice much of a difference in color or taste, but they have a pretty varied diet anyway – they eat regular chicken layer food and lots of treats (bread, veg scraps, and I’m sure plenty of bugs in summertime). – In general the color and taste are definitely better than store bought eggs.