Tag Archives: Barley

Chicken Fodder

Yeah I know not to creative of a title, give me a break it’s been a long day. Fodder has been a topic of mine before, this morning on my feed run I took some pictures of my set-up and am going to share them with you all. Fodder

I tried the inexpensive black nursery trays you can buy at the hydroponics store but they kept cracking on me.

Fodder2

Now I am using restaurant prep trays, I got lucky and a friend was able to snag these from a local restaurant that was going to throw them away due to minor cracks in the rims. Apparently the health department feels they could harbor bacteria. I did check at a local restaurant supply store and these go for $10-$14 a piece which is a bit spendy but would probably be worth it if you were doing this for a lot of chickens and for a long duration.

Fodder3

 

To convert these to sprouting trays I drilled a BUTT-LOAD of holes in the bottom. Probably somewhere between 50 and 75-3/32″ and 1/8″ holes in each one. I also broke half a dozen bits from trying to hurry. The trays get wet down and allowed to drain once a day and are producing a good tray on an 8 day cycle. Over at BYC they have an enormous thread about fodder . After reading the 113 some-odd pages and over 1100 posts you will basically find out that the whole purpose is to stretch your feed by making the nutrients more bio-available which is basically the same thing fermenting feed accomplishes. If your interested in fermenting feed check out this post  over at Scratchcradle Heather really knows her stuff! As for supplies I bought a 50# bag each of Red Wheat and Barley back in November and have just about finally used it all up. Until the last 2 weeks I had only been producing a tray every other day but am now up to a tray a day. I soak 3 cups of seed for 24 hours or so before dumping into a drilled tray, usually I see roots by the end of day 2 and by day 4 there is teeny tiny greenery popping up. After that the growth rate takes off, on BYC they claim a 7 day grow out but for me 8 days gives a nice tight mat that the chickens have to work at a bit to tear apart. The final day of growth I actually pull the mat out of the bin and let it sit out on an open tray without being watered, why? because I only have 7 bins and it works.

 

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Creative ways to make simple tasks more complicated

I find that the cooler temps and shorter days bring out a desire to do things. In the summer there is so much to do but it is a miserable time to do it (at least here), conversely come fall things start tapering off just when it feels good to get out there and do things. Feeding chickens is one of those things that should be simple…right? Last winter and spring I decided that I wanted my chickens to forage for at least part of their diet. This article over at Paul Wheatons site was my inspiration and the foundation for my long term goals in regards to my chickens.

Propagation Tray

Preparing the propagation trays by drilling drainage holes

Red Wheat

5 cups of Red Wheat Prior to soaking

Red Wheat

Red Wheat 24 hours after soaking

Fodder

Red Wheat after 2 days

Red Wheat after 5 days

Red Wheat after 5 days

Chickens eating fodder

The Chickens enjoying the Red Wheat Fodder on Day 6

Mixed Fodder

Round 2 is a mix of Soy Beans, Parrot Sprout Mix, and Red Wheat

My flock took to the Fodder right away and currently I am producing a 10″x20″ tray every other day. I have discovered that Red Wheat is a much more vigorous sprouter than Barley. My process has evolved in the week and a half I’ve been doing this to where now I am soaking 2 cups of parrot sprout mix along with 1 cup of soybeans overnight, then putting a cup of Red Wheat and a cup of Barley on to soak the following night and finally layering them in a propagation tray on the second morning with the Barley/Wheat mixture on top. The parrot sprout mix I am using contains several different types of field peas, safflower, sunflower and vetch. Those grains along with the soy beans provide a very hardy larger sprout while the barley is supposed to be high in protein and the red wheats vigorous roots tie everything together into a tight puck that is easy to handle.

In addition to Fodder I am still actively foraging by proxy for my flock, at least twice a week they get left over cooked rice from a chinese restaurant and I still occasionally get vegetable prep from that same place. My sweety Karen has exotic birds, LOTS of exotic birds, and they are very wasteful of their feed. Rather than sweeping it up or dumping their cups in the trash she now keeps a 5 gallon bucket near which she fills with all of the chaff/seed/pellets they leave in their bowls or toss on the ground. This bucket gets topped off with leftovers and goes out to the chooks about twice a week. On top of this I keep a bucket of high protien pigeon feed fermenting in the coop for those slack days in my foraging efforts. To round out my Flocks nutrition needs I have an auto-feeder setup that is always full of a mix of Lay-pellets and Flock Raiser pellets.

Chicken Feeder

My custom built “Foraging” Table

Chicken Feeder

The water proof feed hopper portion of my Automatic Feeder

Chicken Feeder

The “Magic Trigger” for my Automatic Chicken Feeder

When I moved this setup out of the area that I am trying to grow a chicken pasture in I lost the fancy trigger I ordered off of ebay for $4.99 and then had to pay $10 shipping to get it here from the UK. I had read somewhere that a teaspoon would work just as well and figured what the heck? Low and behold it worked just fine! The chickens go under the foraging table, peck at the “trigger” and out pops a few pellets. It did take a couple of tries to get the hole sized properly so that the feed didn’t just run out but would dump a reasonable amount when pecked.

Yeah I know my Chickens are spoiled……aren’t yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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