During the winter months most anything green is gone for a large part of the USA. If you’re a chicken owner, you know those guys love that green stuff. I know in different parts of the states, the weather conditions such as snow and ice can prevent chickens from getting all the good protein, vitamins and minerals from the green grass, among other greens that they get in the summer. If you’re as concerned about your flock as we are at Egg Well Farm, you may be interested in growing fodder for your guys and gals, (chickens). Fodder is a term used for growing sprouts that grow to thick greens and root system. It’s not as hard as it may seem.
When you don't have a large fodder system, or you don't have a flock big enough to use those big fodder systems, there's another way. You can grow the same thing using something simple. I prefer not going out into the cold if I don't have too, so, I have a space in my house in a window where I grow fodder for our flocks. Every little bit helps.
Benefits of fodder:
It has been scientifically proven to increase the digestibility of other feeds in their gut.
Due to the high moisture content (80 – 85%) sprouts can improve hydration in your animals. Sprouts in animal diets have proven to increase Omega-3 levels. This applies to meat, milk and eggs. When the animals are healthier the benefits are passed along to us.
The nutritional composition of fodder makes it a full feed option for poultry and will improve their overall health and performance.
Incorporating fodder into poultry diets will result in these benefits:
Better quality eggs with deeper yolk color
Enhanced egg taste
Reduced sticky droppings
Improved health and energy levels
You don’t need a lot of space, but you do need a warm place (at least in the 70’s) near a window. I have pretty good result using a simple container with a snap on lid a little bigger than a shoe box. You can stack them on top of each other as one container has grown almost time to harvest stick another one beneath that container full of fodder until you look like you have a sky scrapper. You can also place them side by side.
First you should purchase the seed from which you would like to grow your fodder. Many blogs and articles suggest barely, wheat, buckwheat, just to name a few, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. I purchase a mix of seeds that has a blend of ryegrass, fescue, clover, millet, radish, buckwheat, peas and turnip and it’s non-GMO. That’s my preference, but you just need something you know your flock eats. Some things take a little longer to grow and others are quicker, but the main thing is not to get stuck. Get something going, you’ll learn a lot on the journey.
I’m a visual person myself, so I’m going to show you what I do with a lot of pictures.
Soak your seeds in a quart jar overnight
2. Drain the water from the seeds
3. Place the seeds in the container
4. Lock down the lid and then flip it to where all the seeds are in the lid and then
shake it to get it to spread evenly in the lid. Now knock the seeds off the container top. If all the seeds don’t fall off don’t worry, they’ll still sprout right there where they’re at.
5. On the second day unlatch the lid and place something in the gap to let air in.
6. On day 3 the seed is probably getting a little dry so spray gently and
generously with water. You should be seeing some sprouts by now.
7. At this point I usually start another container doing the same as steps 1 – 6. After you put them in the container put the first container on top.
8. From this day until the greens are about 4 to 6 inches tall make sure you
generously spay with water every day.
9. When your greens are about 4 inches high you can feed to your flock. Just cut it into blocks and watch them go at it. It’s very good for them.
10. You can get another container going at this point repeating steps 1 -6 and putting the last container on top of this one. It’s that easy to give your flock fodder all winter long.
You'll find the yolks in the eggs get darker, your flock gets healthier, not to mention in love with you. Those little fluffy butts running to get that fodder is worth it to me. It doesn't take long to get addicted to all the benefits of fodder.