FYI: Before you read any further you first need to know that this post isn't about the definition of fodder and sprouting. To learn about that, first please visit this blog post...HERE...then come back and get more details on how to grow for what your purpose is for your farm. That blog post will also explain why I DO NOT grow fodder for chickens but I instead sprout for them only.
So this post will be me sharing with you my system on sprouting and fodder and how I grow it along with some other ideas as well. I don't do it on a larger scale so this post is for those that need the general idea on how to start and then decide how much you want to grow.
Setting Up Your "System" for Growing:
1. What kind of seeds? Figure out what you want to sprout and what seed source you are going to use. There are tons of things you can "sprout" but I choose what I can find locally and on a budget which is organic barley seeds (other seeds are wheat, chickpeas, black oil sunflower seeds, corn etc) and I am able to actually get organic barley via scratch and peck most of the time if not I buy online. To me since I can't afford to feed my farm animals on anything organic, this was kind of the alternative to being able to get some sort of organic into their systems. Makes me feel better about it and I also feel that you have less trouble with sprouting the seeds if you go with a good seed company to start out from. Scratch And Peck-Organic Barley Seeds
2. How Much Do You Want To Grow?: You can make this as big or as small as you want of an operation. I feel what I do is kind of on the medium to small side. I use a mini greenhouse on my deck and move it to the garage during the winter time. Sprouts don't need direct sunlight they just need temps of about 60-70 degrees for good growth. When it is cold it just takes a couple more days to grow.
On the deck:
3. Sprouting Containers: For my containers I use dish pans from the dollar store and I drill holes into one end. (See Image) There are other options out there but this is what I could find locally and on a budget. If you want to go smaller scale you can use a strainer to sprout and for larger scale well you will need to do more research on that one!
4. I like doing the "tiered" affect with my system, which means I rinse the top bin and the water trickles down into the other bins and rinses them at the same time. With the system being on my deck the water will just go down into the ground/soil and there is no fussing with access water.
When I do this in my garage I put a plastic tote on the bottom rack to catch any water. I can then reuse this water to keep rinsing the seeds. In doing this in order to angle the bins I put a piece of remnant 2x4 under one side (the side WITHOUT holes) of the bins. I then test it to make sure it drains into the bin below.
So this is how I do my set up. Now we will talk more about how to sprout the actual seeds.
How to Sprout: (there are different ways but this is the method that works for me)
1. Soak: Soak about 2 cups of seeds (place in a non holey bin) for 24 hours in lukewarm water and to prevent bacteria growth I soak in about a cup of homemade apple cider vinegar (Click Here to Learn how to Make ACV) and liquids need to be above the seeds. (People say 12 hours but I feel it sprouts quicker when soaked for 24 hours.) Also, the warm water gives the seeds a little jolt of sprouting action.
2. Drain: Pour all the contents from the "nonholey" bin into the predrilled "holey" bin. The water will drain out.
3. Level out the seeds: Spread out the seeds in the holey bin and make sure it is about level all around and I would then place this one on the top rack of my mini greenhouse and done for the day.
4. Rinsing: When my mini greenhouse is on the deck during the warmer temps I rinse twice a day but when it is in the garage I only rinse once a day. The main thing is you want to make sure all the water gets drained out to prevent mold. So before I rinse I use my vinegar spray bottle and spray the seeds before each rinse so that way when I rinse the ACV gets washed through the seeds as well and hits all the roots throughout the tub. This has helped combat any mold issues. If you have mold issues you need to maybe not water as much (try just "misting" with a hose), make sure there is good ventilation in your space, or use less seeds next time. Also, cheap seeds gives you cheap results FYI! Dont confuse mold with the sprout hairs. Read this post if you didn't read it already.
How to Rinse: The first few days be careful as too much water flow will move your seedlings around into a pile. I tend to just spray the side of the bucket lightly or you can even do a "mist" setting but once the roots get established the seeds dont budge.
5. When are you done? This is your call. Below is the picture of my fodder for my rabbits and my sprouts for chickens. Estimate for this green growth for hay eating animals is about 8-10 days depending on your temps.
This image is about day three for me and this is what I feed my chickens. Just toss it out and let them scratch away.
I wont go any taller than this for my chickens.
Here are my rabbits and their fodder.
This is Rusty and his Fodder:
He eats his "chunk" rather quickly! (about a cup of this a day in the morning is what I give my rabbits)
So that is about it! Let me know if I missed anything by asking in the comments below!
Happy Sprouting and Fodder Growing!