Fodder for the small-time farmer – general information

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We are going to revisit our fodder growing in severeal weeks. We dumped all of the moldy trays (yes, the chickens loved eating them still) and have 2 new methods going – A bucket one that we saw a youtube video on and another one where you water the top and the excess water drips down to the bucket below. 


We were generously gifted chickens after our black labs brought me almost all of my laying hens at the end of the summer. We also hatched some of our own eggs that we had in the coop the day of the “chicken disaster 2014”. Then, last week, we were gifted 16 more chickens!!! We have a TON now (not really a TON, but about 40 or so and to me that is a ton right now.)

 Winter is coming! Yes, I have been waiting to say that for a while now! And we want to be able to keep our feed bill lower for our hens and keep our egg production up. I called my sister, Jen ( and she showed me how they are feeding their chickens for the winter (and supplementing their goats as well). When she said that 50 pounds of barley seed can become 200 pounds of feed by sprouting, I jumped all over that!!! SAVING MONEY!!!

I searched high and low for a metal food shelf (the ones with holes in it) at a yard sale to no avail. I am a closet case yard-saler for things for around the Kid Ranch. We are starting small and working our way up. Trystan and Rowan cleaned up one of my ugly greenhouse shelves (yep, another yard sale purchase) and brought it into my dining room for our science experiment fodder growing experiment.

To start out, I bought 9 plastic shoe boxes and drilled 10 holes in the bottom on one side. And because I couldn’t find the correct shelf to allow the water to drain from box to box, we used 9 of plastic shoe boxes that I had here already to catch water too. This will allow the water to drain out so that the spouts are not sitting in water and not forming mildew or mold. (***We do have a little bit of mold growing on Day 6… so I am going to really watch it and see if it gets worse. We will water less and drill more than 10 holes in the bottom of the trays.) We also gathered 9 pieces of wood to put in the bottom of the buckets to make them angle so that the water drained out easier.

I also found recleaned barley at one of our local feed store.  (I <3 Warren’s in Chino Valley, AZ!)It was about $13 for a 50 pound bag (I am hoping that this will give me about 200 pounds of feed. (We buy 4-5 bags of feed a month for our chickens in scratch) I will measure weights as I am going through this process.

I measured out 3 cups of barley and placed it in a metal bucket – not a pretty bucket at all, as a matter of fact, it looks like it has been drop-kicked a few times as well as run over by the motor home at least once. But, there are no holes in it to leak water… so it will work PERFECT!! You can put as much seed feed as you need in your trays, as long as it measures to less than .5 inches so that it doesn’t mildew.

After adding my seeds, I filled water to just above the barley seeds in the bucket to have them soak overnight. I placed the bucket up on my planter windowsill in the kitchen to “soak”t. This is a daily event, because this is the start day for my sprouts for my fodder. And since my birds will be eating every day, I need to start a new batch of seeds daily to make their meals.

The biggest complaint that I have so far is that there are fruit flies on the bins even with a fruit fly trap made and sitting on the shelf. It is the end of fruit fly season… and is already too cold to put sprouts outside overnight. I am going to take a tray down to the greenhouse later today to see if they will grow there with the cooler evening temperatures.

List of items that are needed (or at least the ones that we used in our house):

  • A metal soaking bucket
  • 9 plastic shoe boxes with holes drilled in the bottom of one side
  • 9 plastic shoe boxes to catch water drippings
  • 9 pieces of wood (or mall cut PVC pipe to angle the top shoe box for water drainage
  • a bag of recleaned (NOT HEAT TREATED or ROLLED) Barley, wheat or oat (Although, I have read that oats do not sprout as well)
  • Daily water
  • cup or pitcher to water your seeds
  • A shelf with direct or indirect sunlight.

Check out each individual day from our Fodder Growing Experiment

Day 1 – Just soaking the seed overnight

Day 2

Day 3 – Roots are starting to show up on the seed

Day 4

Day 5 – There are finally sprouts  in our fodder!

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

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