Update on Fodder – Our system is working GREAT!

 

Back in September, our family began researching and creating a homemade fodder system to reduce our chicken and duck/geese feed cost. We are getting goats in the late winter and wanted to have the system in place when we introduced them onto our ranch too. (I use ranch loosely, it is more of a “kid-ranchette!). …

We watched videos, read books and websites and set up our system… then we … FAILED! We couldn’t get the seeds to sprout consistently. I have an incredible GREEN THUMB so this was REALLY irritating me.  I knew that we could do it! I just wasn’t certain HOW! Or what we were doing wrong. We were missing something! We weren’t getting sprouts and we were getting SLIME! EWWWW!!!

krisandlarry.com Fodder System December 2014We tried more seeds, less seeds, switched from barley to wheat, mixed the 2, watered more, watered less, etc. We bleached, used vinegar and even tried lemon essential oils to get the mold and slime to stop growing. We started with 10 holes, went to 15 and then to 20.

We have discovered that 2 cups (14 ounces of wheat) is the perfect amount for the plastic shoe boxes that we picked up. It is about 1/4 inch DRY unsoaked in my tray. Once soaked, it is measuring at about 1/2 inch tall… You want to keep your seed at about that because once it starts sprouting, they grow and have the potential of mildew!

It has been several months since we started the fodder system in our house… And I can honestly say that we have finally GOT IT!!!

 We were missing one key element – air flow!!

air flow = stand-up fan!!!

 We added a $10 stand-up oscillating fan to blow on the seeds during the day. This was the game-changer in our fodder system.

What do you use fodder for? 

Fodder is a hydroponic sprouting of seed for animal feed (or other purposes). You can use it to feed chickens, fowl, water fowl including ducks and geese, rabbits, goats, sheep, llamas, swine, cattle, and even horses.

We found a GREAT chart online to help with the amount of fodder that you are giving your critters:  (on Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/sprouted-fodder.aspx)

• 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

 

We have a 10-day tray system with 2 additional trays for BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) or Austrian winter peas as a treat and fill in for if we get a bad day of sprouts (but since we added the fan, we haven’t had a bad day of sprouts and the chickies LOVE the extra sprouts from the sunflower seeds several days a week!) We just started experimenting with the peas this week. So we will see how those go too!

 

How long does my daily process take? 

I have been asked by several friends how long my daily process takes. Less than 10 minutes total for the day. In the morning, I normally hand the “ready”  tray to Griffen while I am loading the laundry. (Our fodder system is in our laundry room.) By the time that I am finished switching laundry, Griffen is back with my empty tray and eggs for the morning.

I wash the tray in my laundry room sink with soap and water, rinse thoroughly and then add my seeds to that day’s tray. I slide all of the trays and add the new tray on the top right slot. I stir my top 3 trays with my finger and then I take my pitcher and water the top 3 trays equally. I turn on the fan in the morning.

At lunch time, when I switch the laundry, I water again. Stir top 3 trays. (And normally dump my catch trays out right now.)

After dinner, I go into switch laundry again and water for the last time and stir the top 3 trays with my fingers. At this point, I turn off the fan for the night because I don’t want to let the seeds get too dried out over night.

I will check it one last time before bed and if it looks dry, I water it once more. (I always stir the top 3 trays with my fingers before each water.)

 

Is it worth the time spent on it?

We have now officially cut our feed bill in half! So for us, YES!!! We were buying close to $170/ month on lay scratch for our 40 chicken, 4 ducks and 3 geese. We are down to about $90 for the month and that includes the scratch that I still give them, plus a bag of barley that I mix in with their daily feed and the fodder feed that we are growing. I am planning on expanding my fodder growing by 3 times ones we get the goats and rabbits in a few months and reduce the feed even more. The chickens enjoy scratching, so once our 1/2 acre goat pen in completed, we will be moving the hens over this way.

 

For the initial set-up here is what we used (there are many other options of what you can use too):

  • metal shoe shelf rack that we picked up at a yard sale (any metal rack/shelf will work as long as water can flow through it freely, so no solid shelves)
  • 15 trays -$1 store plastic shoe boxes (drilled holes in the bottom of one end of 12 of them, the remaining 3 are water catchers),You can also use garden trays, metal trays, tupperware, etc.
  • 6 wood wedges – I only need 6 because the back of my metal shelf has a lip that I can use for half of the trays angling on way.
  • 1 quart sized mason jar for soaking – can use an additional tray, bucket, bowl, etc
  • 1 plastic pitcher for daily watering
  • a fan that blows air on your seeds
  • 1 measuring cup (1 cup works for us, since we need 2 cups of seed daily for soaking)
  • Seeds – We use black oil sunflower seeds and either recleaned wheat or barley (the wheat and barley run about $15/bag at the feed store)

 

SET-UP: Drill 15-20 holes in the bottom of 8-12 trays (or as many as you want drain trays for your fodder) Keep the holes on the bottom of one side so that the water floods and drains. Put wedges under the “unholed” sides of the trays in order to make a drain angle. We are getting ready to double our system size so I am looking for another metal shelf. Yard sales are GREAT for things like these.

 

krisandlarry.com - Day 0 of fodder - soaking wheat or barley seedsDay 0 – Soak your seeds overnight in a 2-quart mason jar. We have seen people use buckets, tubs and pitchers as well… THEY ALL WORK! By no means is a mason jar the only way to go.  The mason jar worked for us because …. well we have a TON of them since we use them daily in our house.

You can use BOSS, wheat, barley, oats, peas, rye or any other sproutable seed. We pick up our seeds at one of our local feed store (Warren’s Hay and More) – “Recleaned” Barley and “Recleaned” Wheat is what we normally pick up. The 50 pound bags run about $15 a piece and last us for over a month!!!

 

You will repeat this process every day. So tomorrow you will have a day 0 and a day 1 going on at the same time. 

 


 


krisandlarry.com - Day 0 of fodder - Seeds into the trayDay 1
– Transfer your seeds from the mason jar into your first tray.  This is a simple process. All that you need to do is dump your seeds that were soaking into the first tray.

Always WASH the empty tray that you are dumping into in order to prevent mold growth. I do wash each tray before the seeds go into them with  hot water and soap.

Make sure that you rinse these seeds until the water is clear (that will make sure that you are removing dirt and mold spores off of your seeds.

Stir this tray with you fingers before watering. This will aerate your sprouts a little.

The seeds will have doubled in size (approximately) overnight as they soaked up the water.

Water 3 times today. Flood and drain. Soak 2 more cups of seeds.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


 


krisandlarry.com - Day 2 of fodder - I can see sprouts !Day 2
– We rotate our trays every day. So move tray one over one spot and then add your second tray with the seed soaking from last night.

You will begin to see growth on the very tips of some of the seeds. (Don’t worry if you don’t see this until tomorrow!)

Stir this tray with you fingers before watering. This will aerate your sprouts a little.

Water 3 times today. Flood and drain. Soak 2 more cups of seeds.

We water in the morning after we feed our chickies, once at lunch and again before bed.

If everything is looking really “dry” we water at dinner time too as well.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


 

krisandlarry.com - Day 3 of fodder - We have roots!Day 3 – We rotate our trays every day so that they newest tray is on the top right side of the shelf – this makes it much easier for kids to remember which tray goes to the chickies and which is the newest. (We also have our trays numbered on the sides as well using vinyl stickers… but you can easily do this with a permanent marker too and have a spreadsheet that we keep tray of soak and tray days and what we put in each tray.) We started the spreadsheet because we were having trouble with sprouts in the beginning.

You will begin to see more growth on the very tips of some of the seeds and roots on others. Yep! ROOTS! On Day 3… ROOTS!

Stir this tray with you fingers before watering. This will aerate your sprouts a little. This is the last time that you stir these seeds. Once they hit day 4, you will leave them be because they will start to form a root mat.

Water all of your seeds – 3 times today. Flood and drain. Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

Today, I also soak 2 cups of BOSS in a second jar and have an extra tray of seeds sprouting. My chickies love black oil sunflower seeds too. 

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


 

krisandlarry.com - fodder, day 4 - The sprouts have startedDay 4 – On our system, we can fit 3 trays in a row, so this tray 1 gets moved to shelf #2 on the right side to start rotating over on the next shelf. Tray 4, this tray of new seeds is above tray #1 in our system.

So, slide your trays over and dump last nights soak in tray number 4.

You will begin to see more growth on the very tips of some of the seeds and roots on others and may even see sprouts beginning.

Water 3 times today. Flood and drain. Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

Today I slide my trays over 2 spots to make room for my BOSS that I started soaking last night. I have 2 trays that are unmarked. I soak on Day 3 and Day 8 to fill the extra trays on day 4 and day 9… I have no idea why I do it on these odd days… but I do! LOL

 

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


 

 

krisandlarry.com - fodder, day 5 - The sprouts have thickenedDay 5 – Day 5 at our house is always the most exciting! We have green forming… Yep…it’s the day of our “green carpet” of fodder beginning to sprout.

So, slide your trays over and dump last nights soak in tray number 5.

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain. Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow.

Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Remember too to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

We dump our fill buckets outside in our grapevines or in our rose bushes. Why waste the water?  🙂

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


krisandlarry.com - fodder, day 6 - A carpet of fodderDay 6 – Today marks the day that we have 6 full trays in different levels sprouting. This may be different for you however depending on your shelf and tray size. That also makes 2 full rows of trays full on our system. (

So slide your trays over and dump last nights soak in tray number 6.

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain.

Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow. (Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Remember also to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

We dump our fill buckets outside in our grapevines or in our rose bushes. Why waste the water?  🙂

Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 

 


 

krisandlarry.com - Fodder Day 7 - Look at those roots!Day 7 – As we continue our journey on creating fodder I keep thinking “Wowwie!” I could grow my own grass too! I don’t have a great lawn because I focus on my grapes, berries and garden and I could just start growing it this way!  LOL

Today, you should really start to see significant growth… remember that not all systems work the same in each location. If you seed are slower growing, that is OK! They could also be speed growing faster than mine as well… Just know that the seeds like the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F. The seeds like water and airflow, but they do NOT like to sit in water for too long as they begin to ferment – and those that are fermenting smell AWFUL!

So slide your trays over and dump last nights soak in tray number 7.

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain.(Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

 


 

 

krisandlarry.com - Fodder Day 8 - Look at those roots!Day 8 – I like to grow my seeds for 10 days. It gives extra greens to my critters and to me, that is important in the dry fall/winter of Arizona (although this is day 3 of drizzle so I am thinking we are going to have a green Christmas). Once our seasons change, and everything freezes, the area goes very brown and my critters LOVE eating fresh greens.   Many people however feed their critters in this stage – Day 7 or 8.

Your root mat should be looking really nicely formed. My geese love the greens of the top of the fodder and my chickens love the seeds and the roots.

So slide your trays over and dump last nights soak in tray number 8.

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain.(Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

Today, I also soak 2 cups of BOSS in a second jar and have an extra tray of seeds sprouting starting tomorrow. My chickies love black oil sunflower seeds too. 

 Every day, you start over with day 0 and dump those seeds into a tray on the following day. This will insure that you have sprouts growing daily as a supplement for your critters. 


 

krisandlarry.com - Fodder Day 9 - Look at those roots!

Day 9

There shouldn’t be too many seed left showing on the bottom of your trays (that is if you are using clear trays like we are and can see them.) However, don’t worry if you have loose seeds. Every batch is different!

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain.(Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow. Dump last nights soak in Tray 9.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

 


 

 

Day 10 – It is the last day for this tray for growing!krisandlarry.com - Day 10 fodder growth

Water your fodder 3 times today. Flood and drain.(Remember that you only need to water the top 3 trays if you have the holes drilled in the bottom because the water will flow from the top down!

Soak 2 more cups of seeds in your jar for tomorrow. Dump last nights soak in Tray 9.

Remember to dump out the catch buckets as they fill up. I wash these with soap and water every other day because they can get pretty stinky!

If you started with a 10 tray system like we did, then you will have all 10 trays on your first rotation filled as of now. If you are going less days, then you have already started over the process.

 

14 ounces of seed (2 cups of this wheat seed) became 2 pounds, 4.5 ounces of fodder feed – YEAH!!


 

 

Day 11It’s feeding day!!! Today is the day that I start this tray all over again! Yeppers, there is never an empty tray in our house. And my critters get the best greens that I can offer to them daily. Our egg production is still steady at over a dozen a day with about 18 layers currently in our flock… I can’t wait for spring when the other 18 mature, even in December, and I feel that it is because of all of the AMAZING greens that they are still getting… Our hens are fat and happy AND full of fresh greens!!

 

Check out Griffen’s YouTube video on the fodder growing process: