Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here's the results of my fodder growing experiment

As fodder growers go I'd call myself a rookie but I had some questions that I wanted to try to find answers for so I set up this little experiment a few days ago. Now I'm growing wheat sprouts/fodder for laying hens so if your growing fodder for other animals what I have done here probably won't mean much to you but on the other hand I did get a feed that may also work pretty good for rabbits, goats or horses out of it. I usually only grow my fodder to about day 5-6,that is when the protein for wheat is suppose to peak at somewhere around 16% which is very similar to most commercial layer feeds. What I was noticing was that there seemed to be a lot of unsprouted grain in my feed at that point,if you look at the pictures you can see the difference, both pictures are wheat at 5 days growth. Here's what I did different, originally I would soak the wheat seed for 12 hrs in water with a little bleach in it to clean the seed, then I would transfer the seed from that bucket to another bucket that I drilled holes in the bottom, the seed spends 48 hrs in that bucket getting watered/rinsed every 12 hrs. From there I transfer the seed into a 1020 seed starting flat for 72 more hours and feed it at the end of 72 hours. I did 2 things different with the wheat that came out grassier, I didn't put the seed in the buckets for 48 hrs to drain/rinse. Instead I put the seed right into the tray from the soak bucket. The tray that I used was a stainless steel tray from a buffett cart that had a flat bottom instead of the ridged bottom that the 1020 trays have. I did end up with a grassy mat that had a real nice root mat but as far as extra weight it only increased by about a half of a pound. I fed it this morning and the chickens ate it ok but what I did notice was that they scratched and tore it apart and scattered it around some which they don't do when I feed it as mostly sprouts. I'm not sure what caused there to be as much difference in the growth and I'm trying to determine that right now with a couple more trays, I'll let you know what I find. For now I'm kind of undecided what I'm going to do, the grass is good for egg quality but I don't think there's much benefit as far as production goes and the grassy stuff didn't give me a tremendous weight gain, I think I'm going to try hitting a medium by putting the seed in a bucket to rinse /water for 24 hours then into a tray and see what that does. And maybe I'll just grow 1tray a week or so of really grassy fodder until I can get some more greens from the market garden into their diet. The bottom line is, anyway you look at it this is a very cost effective and healthy way to feed chickens, especially in winter when they can't find any other greens to eat and the best part is it only costs about a penny per chicken per day with very little extra work or added expense. They still need some oyster shell, egg shell or commercial feed for the minerals that aren't in the fodder but it can still make a big difference in the feed bill.

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