Does anyone have any experience growing feed/fodder by sprouting grains. I've seen the commercial hydroponic systems in FarmTek  for $3,000-$4,000. Anyone have a good DIY setup?

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Well I'm trying my hand at sprouting some barley. We'll see how it goes.

Yes, it can be done at home with a bit of effort and some thoughtfulness. Find any kind of flat bowls (dollar store dish pans) or even buckets and drill holes in them (lots of holes, you dont want the water sitting) smaller than your grains. Find or make a rack system, even sticks on thr ground and "brick stack" your containers. Soak seed 24 hours in solid bucket and transfer into draining containers to sprout. Rinse with hose several times a day as possible to prevent sourness and mold. One bucket can run into another as a water saving feature. Cover and protect from mice and birds. Grow sprouts to desired size.

I find my chickens and ducks like them only just sprouted, but my cows enjoy them most about 2 inches and green, and their milk is much sweeter on fodder. Good luck

Also, note how much grain goes into your soak bucket so that you can dole it out evenly into your sprouting containers. Soaked and sprouted grains are heavier and take up more space than dried grains.

Save your money. Avoid hydroponics think aquaponics, instead.

Use 10"X20" sprouting trays left over from starting seedlings or purchase some for just $1-2. I'm working on details of using coconut coor and I have a friend who raises the most beautiful and dense sunflower seeds for the farmers market and he swears by using the "mud" at the bottom of the duck pond.  John <youtube.com/growingyourgreens> did an interview with a commercial grower within the last several months and had some very practical suggestions, just do a search for sprouting. There is a youtube where a guy uses five gallon buckets, hangs them one above the other and lets the water from one drain through to the next. Each day he takes the finished bucket off the bottom and adds the newest bucket to the top. He created an automatic water dispensing mechanism, called a tip bucket, this is my version http://youtu.be/rC8xpTBxf1I . Joel Salatin proposed a system that would look like a ferris wheel and I think that sounds like a really good idea.

I'm looking into this for animal fodder. Seeds don't need much to emerge but nutrients and light are necessary to get really lush growth for the next several days before harvest. A one week cycle is very doable. The growing media should be recyclable or compostable.

  

Thanks!

Stablefood said:
Yes, it can be done at home with a bit of effort and some thoughtfulness. Find any kind of flat bowls (dollar store dish pans) or even buckets and drill holes in them (lots of holes, you dont want the water sitting) smaller than your grains. Find or make a rack system, even sticks on thr ground and "brick stack" your containers. Soak seed 24 hours in solid bucket and transfer into draining containers to sprout. Rinse with hose several times a day as possible to prevent sourness and mold. One bucket can run into another as a water saving feature. Cover and protect from mice and birds. Grow sprouts to desired size.

I find my chickens and ducks like them only just sprouted, but my cows enjoy them most about 2 inches and green, and their milk is much sweeter on fodder. Good luck

Also, note how much grain goes into your soak bucket so that you can dole it out evenly into your sprouting containers. Soaked and sprouted grains are heavier and take up more space than dried grains.

Yeap- And they don't have to cost that much. We built a sample small system on: MyBackAchers.com and wanted it to have some features not available in other fodder feeders. It costs about $325 - $295 to make. We'll be working on additional units for the larger flocks but so far - we love it!

  1. We designed it because we wanted it to reduce our time investment. After all, if this system helps us scale up by a factor of 7-8 times the production we did last year, then I want to spend less time per unit.
  2. Animals benefit by the sprouting process because they can digest more of the grains. Layers will lay more eggs and have a better quality (add some calcium and grit along with minerals/kelp). Dairy animals will give more milk and have a higher chlorophyll content....its almost green tinted. Meat animals will gain more muscle in a shorter period of time because of the digestibility. 
  3. It makes the small farmer competitive by saving us a lot of money on valuable grains. I suspect grains will only increase in costs as energy and land prices increase so I am locking in a future part of my costs.  

However you do it, for chickens, rabbits, hogs, dairy, llamas, cows or horses, you will be saving a large amount of grains money over time.

One of the tricks to maintain your sprouts successfully is to remember the high sugar content of sprouts invites molds so always have hydrogen peroxide available to inject into the system. The other thing - add special minerals for the animals like extra calcium for laying hens and a broad mineral or kelp to each batch. The plants soak a large portion of it up and make it available to the animals....or us if you are eating them!

Which brings about another subject - make sure you set up a system that is versatile. When not running grain sprouts for livestock - think about growing micro-greens for yourself/family. The system should also be able to sprout your garden seedlings if you have sun available....but the actual sprouts for animals that run through the system in 6-10 days don't usually require sunlight.

MyBackAchers.com Farm

I would like to see more information on the Auto Fodder Feeder but your link is broken. Can you give me a better link or fix the problem.

This morning, for the first time, I fed my chickens (6) and ducks (5) all 6 weeks old Black Oil Sunflower (from bird seed) sprouts  that were 3 days old. I fed them a total of 10 oz and they consumed it in a matter of 5 minutes or less. Both the chickens and ducks seemed to accept it extremely well. I have a second patch of Giant Sunflower sprouts to give them in the morning. I think I'm getting better than 10:1 weight gain by sprouting. I sprouted in coco coor and washed the coor off before feeding. On the third day I nourished the sprouts with kelp/fish emulsion in water (according to instruction on the bottles). I need to experiment with growing for several more days in sunlight, so far I am using fluorescent bulbs in a shop lamp.

I have started another batch, this time I weighed the seeds (1.5 oz) and will let them grow for a total of three days and then get the net weight of the sprouts.

I have a batch of red clover that has sprouted and will be ready for perhaps Saturday feeding, these sprouts are much daintier but the seed is so much smaller.  A batch of lettuce is much slower to germinate.

I had been pondering growing some of my own grains for my chickens when we get them, I don't know why I didn't think of sprouting for them! You gave me a lot to think about here, thank you! 

MyBackAchers Farm said:

Yeap- And they don't have to cost that much. We built a sample small system on: MyBackAchers.com and wanted it to have some features not available in other fodder feeders. It costs about $325 - $295 to make. We'll be working on additional units for the larger flocks but so far - we love it!

  1. We designed it because we wanted it to reduce our time investment. After all, if this system helps us scale up by a factor of 7-8 times the production we did last year, then I want to spend less time per unit.
  2. Animals benefit by the sprouting process because they can digest more of the grains. Layers will lay more eggs and have a better quality (add some calcium and grit along with minerals/kelp). Dairy animals will give more milk and have a higher chlorophyll content....its almost green tinted. Meat animals will gain more muscle in a shorter period of time because of the digestibility. 
  3. It makes the small farmer competitive by saving us a lot of money on valuable grains. I suspect grains will only increase in costs as energy and land prices increase so I am locking in a future part of my costs.  

However you do it, for chickens, rabbits, hogs, dairy, llamas, cows or horses, you will be saving a large amount of grains money over time.

One of the tricks to maintain your sprouts successfully is to remember the high sugar content of sprouts invites molds so always have hydrogen peroxide available to inject into the system. The other thing - add special minerals for the animals like extra calcium for laying hens and a broad mineral or kelp to each batch. The plants soak a large portion of it up and make it available to the animals....or us if you are eating them!

Which brings about another subject - make sure you set up a system that is versatile. When not running grain sprouts for livestock - think about growing micro-greens for yourself/family. The system should also be able to sprout your garden seedlings if you have sun available....but the actual sprouts for animals that run through the system in 6-10 days don't usually require sunlight.

MyBackAchers.com Farm

Hi DigitalFoodDesert-

We thought of doing that too - the buckets and the ferris wheel but really wanted a system that would take the demand off our time and not take up floor space. I like the "rack" system and will use it for large animals. But I do know the flimsy potting flats won't take much to break down. We spent the $ and got something what lasts.

The other thing - using mats to grow into is un-needed. The seed roots make their own mat so we drilled small drainage holes in our durable trays for drainage into a collection system. Again, the design is easy to slide a new tray of seeds into the system and that action slides a finished tray out and we're done with that set of fodder.

I want to make some bigger ones as this one only feeds 5 - 10 chickens depending on the size and age of the birds. I would also like one that is a "double deck'er"  with 1 or more trays sliding over the water collection system.

The need for light in a system is minimal as seeds will sprout without it but you are right - if using sprouts that take more than a week - some light might be needed. I've been sprouting grains for our own table for years and the real trick I found is to use peroxide in some of the washes to reduce/eliminate molding.  That said, the need to keep out rodents and even birds/rabbits before the fodder is ready goes without saying.

But the bottom line is - whatever system you find works for you - it will save you a bundle and your animals will love you for it!

MyBackAchers!

  

Oh Your Lucky Ducks! . . and chickens!

I never thought to use bird food mix. Now I don't think I'll argue about the price of it. I picked up some oats, barley, chia and pea mix. I think I will add clover next time and maybe find some organic alfalfa seed to see how they like it.

In total - almost all seeds from peas, beans, grains (wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat and rye) can make good fodder depending on who you are feeding, I love the idea of sprouting millet, sunflower, clover and alfalfa. Some say even corn makes a good sprout as do soy beans (not the GMO ones of course).

Thanks - you've given me some new ideas to treat the hens with.

And oh, you don't need fish emulsion but keep adding the minerals. Most sprouts don't need a fertilizer until they have a 2nd set of leaves and if you don't want to eat something with fish emulsion, then they might not find it appetizing either. If you want to get digestive enzymes going for your birds - try yogurt.

MyBackAchers!


digitalfooddesert said:

This morning, for the first time, I fed my chickens (6) and ducks (5) all 6 weeks old Black Oil Sunflower (from bird seed) sprouts  that were 3 days old. I fed them a total of 10 oz and they consumed it in a matter of 5 minutes or less. Both the chickens and ducks seemed to accept it extremely well. I have a second patch of Giant Sunflower sprouts to give them in the morning. I think I'm getting better than 10:1 weight gain by sprouting. I sprouted in coco coor and washed the coor off before feeding. On the third day I nourished the sprouts with kelp/fish emulsion in water (according to instruction on the bottles). I need to experiment with growing for several more days in sunlight, so far I am using fluorescent bulbs in a shop lamp.

I have started another batch, this time I weighed the seeds (1.5 oz) and will let them grow for a total of three days and then get the net weight of the sprouts.

I have a batch of red clover that has sprouted and will be ready for perhaps Saturday feeding, these sprouts are much daintier but the seed is so much smaller.  A batch of lettuce is much slower to germinate.

Here's what our system looks like before we put the top on.

I have a pond pump running it now but the top could go on up-side down and just pour the water in and let it drip over the trays.

I still need to figure out how to keep it running over the coldest part of winter, but we make them heavy duty enough to withstand most everything else (hogs, goats and horses).

Foddering for Fun.

MyBackAchers

Thanks for the input! 

No Problem....I've been doing aquaponics/hydroponics since 1999. My favorite is raising redclaws!

 


The red claw(Cherax quadricarinatus) is a tropical freshwater crayfish very rustic and relatively easy to raise. In warmer climates Red Claw Crayfish (Giant Australian Crayfish) are raised by simply putting red claws in a rice paddy or freshwater pond, feed them and let them grow and multiply. This can not be done where temperatures drop below 60 degrees since Red Claws are a semi-tropical crayfish. Raising Red Claws in tanks and summer ponds up north takes more care, timing and energy use.

Red Claw Crayfish are capable of producing a large quantity of dense protein in a short period of time and are often found as prawns, giant shrimp or other shrimp in stores and resteraunts. The Redclaws are a beautiful aquarium creature and people who raise them find them as entertaining as tasty. Female redclaws can mature in 6-8 months and then produce 500+ fry every 3 - 4 months. They actually nearly multiplied us out of our home!

Redclaws grow quickly - in 8 months they can reach large shrimp size and can be processed to soften their shells from a hard crayfish tough shell to a soft shell that is easy to peel and eat like shrimp. The males grow to nearly a pound in about 10 - 14 months and are about 30% meat compared to other crayfish with less than 20% meat.

Redclaws can be stocked denser than American crayfish because they are less agressive so it is possible to raise them at a density of 5 adults per sq ft.

My experience began in 1999 when I brought my first crayfish to Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR was contacted and my license was secured. I did this because they seemed like such an intriguing creature I could not turn down setting up a home for them though I lived in a cold climate and they are a tropical fish. Well, they are a fish in the way that they mainly live in water. They also like to leave the tank and walk-about.

I ran tanks of red claws for about 6 years sucessfully breeding, hatching and eating red claws. Over time, the red claws expanded my few aquarium systems into filling my basement and buying greenhouses to hold their tanks full of hatchlings. Yes, they multiply worse than rabbits and are one of only a few of fish that can withstand such dense stocking as long as they have clean water, places to hide and appropriate food. After time, I would have soon ran out of house space but we bought a farm with the intensions of eventually building permenant tanks systems to fill our own taste for them.

Recently I meet another Redclaw Expert - Larry Aden had extensive experience and has added indepth insights into the nature of the redclaws and between the two of us have developed this guide to anyone interested in developing their own tank of end-less shrimp, baby lobster or aquarium entertainment. He is one of only a hand full of Americans who set up and managed large tank systems. His system designs take into account the natural instincts of red claws and make it easy to operate, separate and handle red claw when at any stage of growth.

You can Learn More about Raising Baby Lobster n Shrimp in your own ponds on MyBackAchers.com/aquaponics.htm

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