For an inexpensive source of wheat berries or other sprouting seeds, check into Starting a Buying Club.
Sprouting Seeds and Growing Fodder
I’ve read quite a bit about growing fodder for your livestock over the last year or so. It sounds like a great idea to give them some green feed in the winter when there’s no grass (in my area). Harnessing the power of the sun with sprouted seeds provides extra nutrition for the same price as the plain grain. What’s not to love about that?
I’ve heard folks say that growing fodder or sprouting seed for their livestock makes them healthier and provides nutrients that aren’t available in regular grain. This would make sense, considering that the process of sprouting converts carbohydrates in grain into simple sugars. In addition, the process of photosynthesis in the green leaves produces more sugars and nutrients.
Fodder Growing System?
I’ll be honest here, I’m a bit thrifty. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to invest in a fodder growing system and I didn’t have much extra time to do a fancy DIY set up. But I really wanted to try sprouting some seeds to see if my poultry would eat it. So I put on my thinking cap and came up with this recycled system that is working pretty well.
This system will take more time to maintain and you’ll need to manually rinse the seeds 2 or 3 times a day. If you are working full time, raising a big family, or knee deep in farm work, you might want to invest in one of the systems that has a pump and timer. To keep my system growing pretty well, I have 4 recycled salad containers that are stacked for raising a successive harvest of sprouts. I soak organic wheat berries in water overnight, rinse, then spread them out in the bottom of a container. Each day another batch is soaked and spread out to sprout. They are in a sunny, south-facing window rather than under lights. I find it takes about 4 or 5 days to get the wheat grass to the size the chickens like.
The Ducks Like it Too
Some of my chickens go crazy for the sprouts and some of them scratch the sprouts out of the way to look for grain. But the ducks absolutely love the wheat grass and chow down a large portion of it. The turkeys are not that interested and prefer their regular feed with a few sunflower seeds. Of course, the turkeys were on the conventional layer crumbles when I bought them a week ago and they are still curious about these new seeds and weird things I’m giving them.
I haven’t been feeding the wheat grass to my birds long enough to see any changes in their health or productivity. Perhaps I’ll see a change when the weather warms up a little bit and the doors are open all day. I think the flock is just as tired of winter as I am!
Buying Wheat Berries and Other Seeds
I purchase wheat berries in 25-50 pound bags from one of my buying clubs. I can get organic wheat berries from Azure Standard for a decent price, making my fodder growing project pretty inexpensive. You can get wheat berries from other sources too. Try searching online for companies that sell them for fodder or check at your local feed mill or farm supply store.