When the winter months are long and you want a hint of green to emerge again in the yard, odds are that your chickens will want to. Growing your own is one of the easiest ways to supply your chickens with lush, green grass. If it’s because there’s a foot of snow on the field or because you either don’t have the desire or the ability to free-range your chickens, raising your own fodder is a perfect option to pasture.
For wheatgrass or pasture grass, you’ll want to begin with a reliable organic source. You can find many options online, and occasionally even buy them in bulk at the local farm shop.
You can rise or sprout a few types of grains: wheat, oats, barley, rye,
Wheat has the highest protein content, while the most digestible fiber content is found in barley and oats. In wheat and rye, a higher starch content is observed, while barley and oats have lower values. Barley has the highest percentage, by far, of calcium. When picking a grain for your flock or mixing many grains together, keep both of these things in mind.
If you just feed them fodder every day, chickens need 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in fodder each day. Give it along with supplements with grit and minerals and vitamins.
When sprouted or grown into fodder, both grains become 40 per cent more digestible. For this effect, since not only is the nutrient value higher, but the absorption rate into the chicken’s bloodstream is often better, the chickens will continue to ingest less fodder than their daily feed ration.
How Fodder Will Expand
In as little or as big a batch as you want, you can grow fodder. Since we don’t use it as a full-time feed on our farm, in the winter months, I only cultivate it in my little greenhouse or on the kitchen table, if necessary. But if you want to add fodder to the feed, you’re going to have to set up a whole device.
What you’re going to need:
Shallow jar (I use old cake pans made of plastic or metal)
Grain of Selection
Step 1: Overnight, soak the grains in a food-grade bucket or cup. The method will jumpstart this.
Phase 2: Choose a solid shallow jar as the foundation for your fodder, ideally one you can dig holes through. Old cake pans made of plastic or metal fit well. Drill lots of small holes in the bottom-p=m—big enough to allow water to drain in but small enough to not escape from the grains. If the holes are too large, you can have to put a plastic mesh liner at the bottom of the pan.
Phase 3: Apply to the pan your soaked seeds, no thicker than 2 inches. I like to apply just a small coating, until I can no longer see the bottom of the plate.
Step 4: Hold the grains until they start sprouting, damp but not saturated. By using a water-filled spray bottle or just running the fodder under water each day and allowing it to drain entirely, you can do this.
Phase 5: The fodder can sprout beautifully after 3 to 7 days, dependent on the temperature where the fodder is placed. Flip it upside down onto a clean surface until the fodder exceeds the desired height and remove it from the bottom, where the roots are. Create squares of 4 inches, or whatever size you choose and give them as needed to your chickens!
Fodder might take a few attempts to learn, but you’ll start putting together a rotational system that matches your needs once you’ve mastered it.
Although fodder is fantastic, if your room allows, putting your chickens on pasture most of the year is the best choice. When pasture raising is not an alternative or is not available during cold months, fodder serves as a pasture substitute.
Don’t you have space or time to make fodder? In a mason jar, consider sprouting barley, broccoli, peas or other grains and vegetables. Only soak them in water each day, drain them well and watch them rise!