Poultry - The Frugal Homestead

How to Grow Chicken Fodder for Your Flock

wheatgrass fodder for chickens
Chicken Fodder - The Basics of Growing Fodder for Your Flock by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Grow Chicken Fodder For Your Flock

Did you know that chicken fodder is a great way to give your flock some greens in the winter? If you don’t have any colorful foods for your hens to feast on, their egg yolks will be pale…like grocery store eggs. Once you’ve had eggs from free-range or pastured hens you’ll turn your nose up at store-bought! It can be tough to provide enough vitamin-rich kitchen scraps during the winter, so try supplementing your flock’s diet with chicken fodder and other treats high in beta-carotene.

This post contains affiliate and referral links and advertising as a means to earn income. You won’t pay any extra but I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases. See my disclosures.

Sprouting wheat in a mason jar is an easy way to provide greens for a small flock.

What Is Chicken Fodder?

The dictionary definition of fodder is any ‘foodstuff’ for livestock, often referring to dried hay or other coarse, dry feed. However, in recent years there has been a move toward growing sprouts or micro-greens for chickens and other livestock. Researchers have found reason to believe that sprouted grains are healthier for humans to consume.

It stands to reason that our livestock will benefit from sprouted grains too. Some of the health benefits discovered by researchers include increased nutrition and the digestibility of grains.

How to Start With the Best Baby Chicks for Your Homestead

Poultry Combo Pack
Grains make good sprouts for chickens
Grains are good to sprout for your flock.

Best Seeds To Sprout For Chicken Fodder

You may sprout just about any grain for your chickens: barley, wheat, oats, buckwheat, sorghum, corn, quinoa, amaranth, and millet are all fine for growing chicken fodder. You may also sprout lentils, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, and other salad greens.

Note: Be careful if you sprout dried beans for your chickens! Many dried beans contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, a naturally occurring toxin that affects chickens as well as humans! Mung beans are an exception and they are easy to sprout for your own use or for your chickens.

Try organic sprouting grains from Azure Standard! (ad)

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

seed packet...sowing seeds
Seeds for your garden are often treated with fungicides…don’t sprout them for your chickens!

In addition, NEVER use packets of garden seeds for sprouting unless the packet is marked as being organic and/or free of any fungicidal treatments. It is best to avoid using any seeds from garden seed packets, just in case the seeds were treated and the packet is improperly marked. Fungicides may be toxic, even in small quantities.

How to Raise an Eco-Friendly Flock of Chickens

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

soaking wheat to sprout for fodder

Fodder Sprouting Basics

I have been sprouting wheat for my chickens off and on for several years. I’ve also sprouted lentils and alfalfa for them. They enjoy these treats in the winter when there isn’t much green stuff in their diets. Here are the basic instructions for sprouting chicken fodder:

  • Soak seeds in clean water for 1 to 12 hours
  • Drain water off and spread seeds in a sprouting tray
  • Rinse seeds several times a day with clean water
  • When sprouts green up (at about 7 days), they are ready for your chickens!

Be sure to rinse the sprouting seeds a minimum of twice a day. It is best to rinse them 3 times or more to prevent them from getting slimy. If seeds get moldy, throw them in the compost instead of feeding them to chickens. Mold can be toxic to birds. Soak and sprout a new batch of seeds each day for a steady supply of chicken fodder. You’ll have to get into the habit of starting a new jar or tray each day. It also requires about 7 trays or mason jars to start a new batch every day.

I like to give the sprouts a couple of extra days to get nice and green before feeding them to my hens. This increases the chlorophyll content and helps to color up those egg yolks!

Sprout Chicken Fodder For A Small Flock

You may use the same systems to sprout chicken fodder as you would use to sprout seeds for your own salads! There are numerous products available in a wide price range for sprouting seeds in your kitchen. Of course, these systems are best for sprouting smaller amounts for a few chickens.

I tried setting up a free system for Sprouting Wheat for Chicken Feed and used that method for quite some time. If you try this, be prepared to throw away the system every so often to prevent bacteria and mold from infecting your sprouts.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

wheat grass makes great chicken fodder
You can grow trays of fodder to feed to larger livestock or a larger flock.

Sprout Fodder For A Large Flock

The methods I’ve used work fine for small flocks of a dozen hens or less. You may start extra jars or trays of sprouts on your counter to increase production.

You can also check out some DIY fodder growing systems. These usually require a shelving unit, growing trays, and a watering system. You can purchase ready-made kits with all of the components you need, or try building a DIY system.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

sprouting chicken fodder for my flock

How Much Fodder Should Your Hens Eat?

I’m not sure about replacing chicken feed with an all-fodder diet for your flock. It may work out if you give them supplemental vitamins and minerals. However, I have not tried this. I suspect that it will throw the balance of calcium, protein, and fat out of balance. I recommend giving sprouts and microgreens to your flock after they have had a meal of balanced formula feed, to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need.

During mild weather, chickens with a large area to free-range will be able to supplement their feed by foraging. They may not need additional greens from sprouting under these conditions. Do some research and experiment with different seed mixes and supplements.

Quality layer feed contains all of the nutrients your hens need to produce eggs and stay healthy. Adding a tablespoon or two of fodder to their diets each day will give them a tasty treat. Too many treats may cause hens to store fatty tissue in their abdomens. This leads to lower egg production. It also encourages them to eat treats instead of their feed, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

As more research is conducted on the health benefits of feeding sprouted grains to chickens we may find that a large serving of fodder can be fed to your flock. Most likely there are sites out there that recommend switching over to all fodder. Personally, I’d like to see the science behind it before doing so.

Your chickens will appreciate fodder in the winter!

Chicken Fodder As A Treat

Although there is a great deal of research into the health benefits of eating sprouted grains for humans, we still have more to learn. It is difficult to find much research on the benefits of feeding sprouted grains to chickens. Until we know more, I feel best recommending sprouted grains in moderation for your hens. If you have a supplement to feed along with fodder, that could very well provide the best of both worlds!

Get a free copy of my Fodder Growing Cheat Sheet, PLUS a copy of my ebook How to Grow a Garden for Your Flock to save some cash on chicken treats! Sign up below…

Chicken Fodder - The Basics of Growing Fodder for Your Flock by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

33 Comments on “How to Grow Chicken Fodder for Your Flock

  1. Great information, thanks! I’m sprouting for my duck flock. The last time I tried this, they did their patented “She’s trying to poison us, run away ” routine. The first tray I took our a couple of days ago, they were cautious. Today, they mobbed me! Hooray! So, no beans. What about peas? I can get field peas cheaply in 50 pound bags for cover cropping. And I will try corn! Deer corn is cheap!

  2. This is what I featured 1-4 to 1-8-2021. On Tuesday Best Country Vegetable Soup. Wednesday Five Can Dump Soup. Thursday Slow Cooker Mushroom and Barley Soup. And Friday Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. Enjoy!

  3. Lisa,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment!!
    Thanks so much for hosting this lovely party! It is greatly appreciated!!
    Please stay safe, healthy and most of all, happy!!\

  4. I can’t wait to try this. I’ve never grown food just for my chickens but they love to eat out of my garden.

    1. Hi Sue!
      I hope you enjoy sprouting fodder for your chickens again! In small batches it is pretty easy to supply your chickens with some greens all winter. 🙂

  5. Lisa – you did a great job on this. I am amazed at how much I am learning, and I’ve been raising chickens for quite a while. Thanks for the great information – especially the section about bean sprouts!

  6. I keep saying I’m going to try this! I like the idea of sprouting wheat. I’ve done sprouting for ourselves but I never think about the chickens.

    Maybe once I cull the flock down to size I can try it. I’m going to bookmark your post to remind me. Thanks!

    1. Hi Maria!
      I hope your chickens enjoy the sprouts too! I need to get busy and start sprouting now that the grass isn’t growing very well in their pasture. 🙂 Have a great day!

    1. Hi Amy!
      Sometimes they have to get used to it. If they’ve never had sprouts before, they may turn their beaks up at it. I have had some chickens do this in the fall when they’ve been allowed to graze but the frost has killed things. So I withhold their feed until late in the day and give them sprouted wheat during the day. They’re hungry enough to try it and then they love it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.