I've been trying to find options for sprouts to supplement the feed my chickens in the winter.
My current feed contains: Wheat, soy, barley, oats, alfalfa, calcium carbonate, corn ddg, minersals + ADE, salt and canola oil. I was thinking I would start fermenting it in order to get better nutrients and reduce loss from them rejecting the finer particles.
I'm ordering bulk from a local store. Everything is organic. Here are the options I have (for 25lb bags):
Green lentil $60
Red lentils $60
Adzuki beans $43
Garbanzo beans $66
Navy beans $43
Hulled barley $40
Brown flax $44 (not sure if they eat this but through I might include it incase)
Pearl barley $38
Buckwheat groats $62
Pumpkin seeds 27.5lbs- $105
Sunflower seeds $50
Rye kernels $55
I was thinking barley, buckwheat, sunflower, and rye would be a good rotation.
i sprout wheat, sunflowers, barley and lentils for the rabbits (and for me).
Buckwheat every once in awhile too, although I find that buckwheat takes longer and has more mold issues. Flax is similar.
I would think there is probably not a huge variation in nutrition among different kinds of sprouts and I would probably go with what is cheapest (like two significantly different kinds, probably sunflower and hulled barley, probably. Pearl barley, I don`t know if that will make a sprout?)
Beans, I am not sure about toxicity. The famous baddies are kidney beans, but I`m not 100% sure that sprouted beans or chickpeas are okay without being cooked (I`m not a vet or a chicken expert, but I know for human consumption sprouted beans are a danger zone. Lentils, on the other hand, are fine, and are a regular feature in my own human diet....)
I don`t do anything special to avoid mold, just try not to crowd the sprouts. I do soak and rinse my sprouts with (chlorinated) town water, i don`t think it has enough chlorine to actually have any anti-mold effects though.
An example, if I`m doing lesser quantities, I don't sprout buckwheat in sprouting bags, which is a guaranteed mold fest. I will instead use a large open bowl (salad spinner).
All my other sprouts that go to the rabbits, after a day soaking and then a day in the same jar to start germinating, all go into trays with a bit of dirt.
If I`m not going to eat them as microgreens, like lentils or wheat berries, I sprout them in bags because dirt.... the rabbits prefer a "cake" of small plants with a mat of roots though.
I want to say that Curtis Johnson had some youtube videos about large-scale microgreen production that I took as inspiration.
as a PS-
I used to keep/work with birds and had to learn a lot about non-toxic alternatives. If I had to worry about steps to take against mold, I would probably use a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution rinse on the seeds/early sprouts.
As for bleach- I live in a place where we have rat lungworm passed through snails. Any of my produce that had a snail near it (which is basically all my produce) gets soaked in a weak bleach solution (and then washed well, of course).
Initially it freaked the heck out of me to have to use BLEACH on my gorgeous organic produce but after actually seeing what rat lungworm does, I'll take the bleach happily. Mold to me is not on the same scale, but I figure big picture I need to choose my poisons (literally).
I have used wheat and barley to grow fodder. I didn't use anything to prevent mold. My water is well water so no chlorine. I have not had any mold issues. My fodder rack is outside, so maybe that makes a difference. Lately I have been fermenting my grains. I have read very good things about the health benefits, it's very easy and the chickens love it. I have been letting them out so I felt they were getting plenty of greens that way, but once winter hits I will probably start growing fodder and do some sprouts. I just think chickens like us need more than just one food. In nature you wouldn't see a chicken eat one thing, they eat everything.
If I were you I would do small batches with out bleach, or any chemical and see how it goes. If you have mold issues then add bleach or something to combat that. I don't know about you, but I just don't like that thought of feeding my chickens, or myself bleach if I can find a way to avoid it. Good luck.
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