DIY Sprouts & Fodder
In colder climates/seasons your chickens may not have access to grass, weeds and other greens but there is a way to provide them with these tender little morsels in winter or in cold climates.
You can sprout your own grains or even make your own fodder (a favorite of mine) and its so easy to do! Fodder is just another way of sprouting except instead of harvesting them right after sprouting, you just let them grow until they’re about 2 inches high. Nutritionally dense, when adding this to their feed, whether dry feed or fermented, it’s more filling to them and also provides deeper colored egg yolks along with added health benefits and they just devour them. All this helps reduce your feed costs. Just as fermented feed can reduce these costs as they both provide more nutrients and fills up their little bellies.
To sprout grains you’ll need the following:
- Sprout seeds or pretty much any seeds ie. peas, alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, raddish and many more
- Quart size mason jar (I LOVE mason jars!! So many uses!) with the ring
- Plastic needlepoint canvas, screen or any other similar material cut to fit the top of the jar
- Add the seeds to the jar pouring cool water over the seeds completely submerging them. Screw the plastic canvas or screen and ring on jar and allow to sit overnight
- Drain the next morning, rinse and drain again and place the jar upside down in a bowl or dish. You can cover the jar with a towel or any fabric or just place it in a dark cabinet or shelf.
- Repeat rinsing, draining and covering twice a day until you see them starting to sprout. Make sure they’re not sitting in water.
- Once sprouting, you can move them to a nice sunny location to watch them happily grow. Within a week you’ll have nice greens for your chickens. At this point, you can refrigerate what is leftover.
To grow fodder:
It’s pretty much the same procedure as with sprouting except you’ll let them grow longer in order to create a thick mat. For fodder you’ll need the following:
- Shallow dish or plastic container, I love using those old enamel pans you find in thrift/antique stores, but any dish that’s flat bottomed and at least 2 inches deep will do just fine
- Place seeds in the container, submerge in water and let sit overnight. Drain through strainer making sure they’re not sitting in water once drained.
- Return to dish (if you’ve drained them out of the dish) cover with a towel or fabric or place in dark location.
- Repeat the rinse, drain and cover procedure twice daily. After a few days, when rinsing and draining be more careful with disturbing them, you’ll start to see roots developing which will turn into a sod type mat. You want to keep rinsing and draining until you have at least 2 inches of growth, usually within 7-10 days. What I prefer to do once they’re sprouted is to just give a light mist with a spray bottle, just enough to keep a little moisture to keep them from drying out and this is less disturbing to them.
- At this point you you can just place the whole dish down for your chickens or take some out by lifting the entire mat out of the dish. Refrigerate the remainder.
With either or both of these methods, you can have tasty greens for your chickens and/or goats all year long. It’s quick, easy and kinda fun! If you have kiddos, they’ll enjoy watching them grow and it’s a cool little project to have them do.