Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

DIY Sprouted Fodder for Livestock

3/12/2013 2:50:26 PM

Tags: fodder, natural feed, sprouted grain, Sarah Cuthill

sprouted fodder seriesSprouting and growing grain for livestock fodder is a simple and efficient way to not only feed your animals a more natural and fresh diet, but is also a practically effortless way to save money. Imagine for a second that the 50 lb. bag of feed you just bought could grow into 300 lbs. of feed that is more nutrient dense in just nine days. Huh wha?! Isn’t just the mere idea of cutting your feed bill worth the try? I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sprouting fodder for livestock is similar to sprouting seeds for human consumption, but in an extreme degree. Think more along the lines of sprouting wheatgrass than the little bean sprouts you would put on a sandwich. By sprouting grain and harvesting it (feeding it to your animals) right before the sprouts get their second leaves at about 7-10 days, you do not need to use anything more than water to grow them –not even fertilizer. The action of sprouting amplifies the natural proteins, vitamins, mineral, enzymatic activity, omega 3’s, amino acids, natural hormones, and stimulates immune response. Of course the increase in these wonderful benefits varies grain to grain.

The sprouted fodder, no matter what seed or grain you choose to use, is fed whole; greens, seeds, and sprouts as a whole. Commonly used grains for fodder are barley, wheat, and whole oats. Barley, which is the easiest to grow, has a crude protein percentage of 12.7 percent and a crude fiber percentage of 5.4 percent as a seed. These percentages jump to a crude protein percentage of 15.5 percent and a crude fiber percentage of 14.1 percent after an average of seven days of sprouting. By sprouting, the digestibility of the grain increases from 40 percent to 80 percent so livestock will not need to consume as much fodder compared to commercial feed because they are obtaining more nutrition from a smaller volume of feed.*

As far as setting up your own fodder sprouting system, there are many options out there for purchase. The only problem you will run into is that there are no fodder sprouting systems for smaller operations, like say, a homestead where you only have one horse, or a few goats, or a small herd of rabbits, or a modestly sized flock of chickens. For us, you will be left to build your own. But no worries folks! A system can easily be set up using materials you already have laying around or using items from the local discount or dollar store. You’re in good hands here DIY’ers.

Before we start, you will need to figure out how much finished fodder your animals will be eating on a daily basis. I have included a rough estimate for the more common homestead animals, but please do your own research on feed amounts and if necessary, consult your veterinarian. As any responsible animal or livestock caretaker, you will not only need to transition your animals onto fresh fodder, you will need to monitor their growth and maintenance rates to keep them in a healthy condition while you get used to feeding fodder. Some animals will also require roughage or mineral supplements. Please only use these amounts as a guide.sprouted fodder day 9 

• Horse: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; 1.5% body weight in dry hay

• Beef Cow: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

• Dairy Cow: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

• Sheep: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

• Goat: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

• Dairy Goat: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

• Alpaca: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

• Pig: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder

• Rabbit: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration for roughage

• Chicken: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; grit and calcium supplements

To get started in growing your own sprouted fodder, you will need:

• 2” deep trays (look for inexpensive baking pans or dish pans at your local dollar store) with a moderate amount of small holes drilled in the bottom.

• bulk bag of untreated, feed grade, whole grain seed; barley, wheat, or oats (oats are the more difficult of the three common grain seeds to sprout and is more prone to mold)

• large bucket

• rack or shelf to keep your trays of seed on

Optional: water pump and hose to re-circulate the water used.

For the best growing results, I recommend that the temperature of your fodder system stays between 63 degrees F and 75 degrees F. The fodder can be grown with only ambient light, so although grow lights or direct sunlight can and will benefit your fodder, direct light is not necessary.

When setting up a rack to put your sprouted fodder trays on, keep in mind that the rack will likely become wet during watering. A simple metal “storage” rack would be wonderful to use especially if a plastic tub of some sort can be placed underneath to catch any water poured through the system. Arrange the fodder trays so that the level below is lined up to catch any water from the tray above. Another good idea would be to drill holes in one side of each tray and then raise the un-draining side by about 1-2 inches. Alternate which side is raised on each consecutive level so that the first tray drains into the second tray, the second tray drains into the third, and so on. You can pour water from a bucket into the first trays or you could set up a small fountain pump on a timer with a hose leading to the top trays to water all of your fodder. Good air circulation is key to keeping mold from growing in your fodder so choose a location for your system that receives plenty of fresh air.

bunny eating fodderHere is an easy system to follow:

(Remember: in order to keep your sprouted fodder growing in a cycle for fresh fodder every day, be sure to start a new batch of seeds every day. )

Step 1: Soak the needed amount of dry seed/grain in a large bucket. Fill the bucket with cool water at least two inches above the seeds. Allow the seeds to soak for 12-24 hours or even overnight. A shorter soak time may result in less seeds germinated.

Step 2: After the seeds have soaked, drain the water and dump the seeds into the appropriate amount of trays. The seeds should never exceed 1/2 inch deep otherwise mold may develop due to poor air circulation.

Step 3: Rinse or water each tray 2-3 times daily. The goal is to provide water for growth, but not allow standing water in the trays. Be sure after watering that each tray has drained well.

Repeat Step 3 for seven to nine days depending on the growth. Ideally, you will have about six inches of growth by day nine. Growth is very dependant on temperature and water.

Step 4: Harvest! Flip your tray over or pull the fodder from the tray and feel confident that you are feeding your animals a more natural feed! Feed the sprouted fodder whole; greens, seeds, and root mat. Because how densely the root mat that develops over the nine days, the fodder can be cut into serving portions with a box-cutter or knife much like a roll of housing carpet.

It really is that simple to grow sprouted fodder for your livestock. Just soak, drain, water and harvest! The most complicated element of this system will be sourcing grain or seeds to use. Of course if you have a local farm supply store, feed supply store, or local grain mill, it will be the most likely place to find seeds to use. Alternatively, seeds or grain in bulk can be found from online resources like Azure Standard, Tractor Supply Company, and state grain mills. A simple google search will probably find just what you need.

If you would like a day-by-day breakdown on starting a sprouted fodder system, visit Sarah’s website for more information.

* Source: Cuddeford (1989), based on data obtained by Peer and Leeson (1985). 

Sarah lives with her husband and young daughter in an old Californian gold-rush town and is learning to be more self-reliant though gardening, animal husbandry, and by making things from scratch. Join her journey from the very beginning and learn along with her on her family’s farm blog, Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm. 

 



Related Content

How to Prep for Pet and Livestock Emergencies - The Basics

The time to prepare for livestock or pet emergencies is not when they fall ill, but before. Here are...

Growing Gluten-Free Grains in the Garden

Registered dietitian, Linda Simon, shares her experiences growing gluten free grains in her garden.

Pedal Power for Your Grain Grinder

Connect a bike to a grain grinder to discover a whole new world of pedal power possibility.

Adopting an Adult or Rescue Livestock Guard Dog

Re-homed adult or rescue LGDs are another option when you are looking for a working livestock guard ...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

wademm9
2/6/2014 4:18:42 AM
Hi there, I have found a supplier of barley in my country (South Africa) however they sell "clipped barley" and "pearl barley"... which is the best one for fodder growing? Thank you in advance. Regards, Wade

wademm9
2/6/2014 4:18:22 AM
Hi there, I have found a supplier of barley in my country (South Africa) however they sell "clipped barley" and "pearl barley"... which is the best one for fodder growing? Thank you in advance. Regards, Wade

Nena Adamczyk
10/7/2013 10:01:54 PM
thank u so much for the info on fodder. I had heard of it about 40 yrs ago.(when I didn't need the info.,at least I didn't think I would). I am currently starting a small 5 acre farm. we have rabbits, ducks and a pregnant goat. getting 2 weened piglets . the fodder info will be of good use here. thanks

Jorge Manuel Mustonen Morel
4/11/2013 7:56:34 AM
Very good this information. I wll use this information with my chicken. Than you Mother Earth News.










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.