I have been busy working on my little acres but feed cost has been one of my biggest problems. I think I've just found the solution, FODDER! If you've ever grown sprouts or wheatgrass then you can grow fodder! You also know how the nutrition is greatly increased. According to the info you should be able to turn 50lbs of grain (wheat or barley) into 300lbs of fodder and instead of the animals getting 30% nutrition from the grain they get 80%! It's as simple as growing wheatgrass or sprouts but on a bit larger scale.
With a shelving unit in the basement or garage and some trays you can have fodder in 7 days. No addition inputs except water!
This may have 'saved the farm'!
Now if you actually plant the grain and let the sprouts grow up and turn green then you have plants, and they are doing photosynthesis....converting CO2 and H20 into sugar, starch, and, importantly cellulose, as well as absorbing N and other things from the soil and making proteins, etc. But the animal must be able to digest all this to realize a huge benefit from the pre-existing grain. A lot of the photosynthate becomes cellulose, which is indigestible to most animals except ruminants.
Of course if you went ahead and let those plants produce more grain, and if they did well, you would have a multiplication in food value over the original seed by many times.....
I should have phrased my post as up to such and such percentages. I realize that the nutritional value will differ for different animals. I put the link first so that people could look at the more complete info. There is even more on youtube. For chickens the info mentioned that chickens would benefit more from just sprouted grains and not grass. I also supliment my birds with worms from my vemiculture and free range. I am still excited about the fodder because I have several types of small livestock and can use the fodder for all of them but realize that chickens won't get the top benefit pecentages that where mentioned in the information. I had hoped that anyone interested in saving feed costs would see the post and be able to apply it to their situation.
One thing peculiar to me is that it doesn't need sun. I thought everything needed sun to grow. Another strange but unrelated peculiarity are seeds such as onion and avocados sprouting healthily in the dark vermicompost bin with no sun. Googling provided this explanation via http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_a_seed_need_the_sun_to_grow:
"Some seeds germinate only when covered with soil, but the actual triggering mechanism depends on the wavelength of light reaching the seed. Seeds that germinate in "darkness" require long wavelength light to do so, ie. heatwaves. Seeds that grow on the surface need short-wave light to start germination."
It's getting late, I'll try to comprehend this in this morning lol
It's only about 1300 pages long haha. Good reading so far. I'm on about page 18. I fell asleep last morning reading it all night.
2. The new chicks (meat chicks cross rock) stop the messy poop.
3. Everything smells better. ^^^
4. Saves a lot of money on feed.
5. They eat less of it than the dry feed.
The thread starts out for meat birds, but all the rules seem to apply to layers as well. http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/644300/fermenting-feed-for-meat-birds
A while back I was looking up home made systems and came across a site which used rain gutters to grow the fodder in.
The gutters were fixed in position and after 7-10 days they would pull out a long carpet of fodder which they'd roll up and feed to the animals.
Looked like a pretty niffty system and seems like it would be easier than individual tubs. I'd love to try this.
There's some savings though. The chickens get full on less seed.
I think there are vitamins that are accessible once the seed is fermented or especially if it sprouts.
I'm not convinced that there's a significant enough savings to justify moving to sprouted or fermented seeds.
The real reason to try this out is the jump in quality. It is more work though.
It may take your birds a while to get used to fermented seed. My chickens didn't know what to do with fermented milo at first.
With fermenting, the water was a loss. But with sprouting, just wet the seeds and seal them in a container. They don't need light to sprout. Rinse them once a day. Leave them uncovered and wet the last day to green them if you choose.
Looks like I have another blog to follow.
My place here in CO is also very dry, with hot summer days, but very cold winters. Have you considered the idea of creating a small greywater marsh to clean your sprout water and make it more reusable? Might be especially helpful if you do manage to put in a small pond. Or the used water could go directly into a plastic lined sunken garden bed to grow greens etc. I recently came across an online "farmers Handbook" that was put out by a group in Nepal to teach ways for their people to provide better food, cleanliness, etc. The guidebook showed farmers how to use their greywater to grow more plants. I found the book as I was looking for permaculture books and info. I can't remember my exact search terms, something like Free permaculture books. It was put into PDF form and offered free from a group in England, I think. If I can find the email I will try to get the contact info., if you are interested. The book was in 5 parts, starting with the home and yard and moving out to fields, trees, etc. The particular species don't work for me, but the concepts are definitely permaculture based, and very useful for anyone, especially someone off-grid, in my opinion.
I do find I much prefer having my birds behind a fence, so they are not "free-ranging" all over the door step and scratching up my garden beds. I know they need more room than just a chicken tractor, so I am considering getting some solar electric poulty net this summer, to keep them in a controlled area to help improve my high desert scrub that I am hoping to turn into a permaculture pasture/ savanna/ food forest.
I tried to do the fermenting thing, but the grain just got icky. I don't sprout my feed grain in the warmer months when my small food forest and garden beds produce an abundance of green leafy matter and overripe zucchini, etc, but I do the sprouting thing in buckets in the winter when fresh food in much scarcer. I don't worry about the trays and green stuff, just soak and rinse once a day for a couple of days. I don't "seal" the grain up, but do use a loose lid the first couple of days. My girls love it and come running anytime they see me come outside, just to see if I have more "goodies" for them. Sprouting does increase the volume, and if it also increases the quality of the feed, it is worth the few minutes per day it takes to rinse the seeds.
Jeremy, I don't think this is anymore expensive. I have to buy feed grain anyway, at least until I can get some forage yards and grow more of the feed the chickens eat. My target now is to get stared with some paddocks and grow some winter forage crops, like fodder radish and mangel beets, that might help stretch the bought feed.
There seem to be five books in the series
Volume One - Inside the House
Volume Two - Near the House - 1 This seems to be the one with info on grey-water use.
Volume Three - Near the House - 2
Volume Four - The Fields
Volume Five - All Zones
They are available as downloadable PDFs, free of charge.
My system has 6 trays(8x12) and a soaking tub on a wire rack. The trays have holes drilled in one end, and are elevated on the opposite end. They are arranged on the 3 level wire rack in opposite directions so when water is put in top 2 trays, it runs back and forth down the trays to the bottom where I have a bucket to catch the final water.
I am using organic barley seed from Green Mountain Farms. I soak about 2/3/4 cups dry seed for about 12 hours. The seed swells when soaked, and in the trays I have that ends up being almost an inch deep. I'm not sure yet, but that might be a little too deep for best sprouting. I soak 1 batch each day, and feed on day 6 of growing not counting soak.
System seems to work OK, but holes in trays are just big enough to let a few stray seeds through, but trays still don't drain as much as I would like. I have to tip trays pretty steep to get it to drain better, I am afraid of mold or rot if it has too much water.
Anyway, that is a little of my thoughts and experience and would love to hear from others so we can improve the system in a joint effort.
Here in the South, there's lots of green stuff for fodder. What seems to hold up best through the winter though is chicory. It puts on more growth through the winter than the radishes, collards, and turnips, and seems to be less affected by the occasional hard freeze.
I've noticed that areas where the chickens free ranged in the summer are still still contain green plants. This is under ice and snow. There's yarrow that still has green leaves, grass etc. The only place this has happened is where the chickens and geese have been.
I think there's some research to be done for poultry regarding no hay solutions and cattle. What if you have an animal that knocks away the snow to get to forage and you follow the animal with chickens?
Glad to see somebody else sprouts fodder for their chickens and will be keeping an eye on this thread. Good luck with your first batch!
Jeremey Weeks wrote:I'm sure this thread will catch Adam's eye--he sprouts seeds for his poultry.
Most definitely, a topic of interest for me! I use the sprouted grains in the spring-fall only. In winter with just my hens and no meat birds, they dont get sprouts. Too lazy I am. I could maybe sprout in my greenhouse, but I am just not up for all the carrying it would entail. Maybe someday I will pay the kids to do it.
I save any 5 gallon buckets that are already cracked, and drill a bunch of small holes in the bottom. I fill it part way with whole grain triticale seed (similar to wheat). I then take an intact bucket and fill it with water. I lower the first bucket with the grain, into the second bucket with the water, and let it soak overnight. I then pull the grain-filled bucket out of the water, and it drains automatically. I let the soaked grain sit for a few days outside under a tree, until it is sprouting. Then it gets fed to the chickens. I typically have several buckets going at a time, so each day there is a fresh bucket of sprouted grains ready to feed.
The system is really easy and efficient, very minimal labor involved.
Adam Klaus wrote:No, it doesnt dry out, because it is still in the bucket. Maybe a thin layer on top dries out, but it still seems to sprout fine. I live in a really arid climate too.
Easy is good. Farming is hard enough work as it is.
Ha! Nice idea! I just posted today over in the aquaponics area about where to find cheap trays to grow fodder in using my fish water. It could be I'm slightly over thinking things.
I have a tiny house and don't have room for trays of greens, though I have tried them in the past. I am hoping to develop some chicken pasture this summer, and to try the compost chicken feeding system geoff lawton showed in one of his recent videos. I also purchased some meal worms in the fall and have a small set-up for those. Several times a week I scoop some out and add to the chickens feed. I always just throw the scratch grains and scraps on the ground and let the girls scratch for it in the deep bedding.
I just ordered some seed for fodder radishes and mangel beets, that I plan to try for fall/winter forage crops for my chickens. And a deep woodchip mulch or compost pile is said to provide a place the chickens can scratch and find insects etc even in winter. My girls don't seem to mind the cold here in NW CO, as long as we throw some mulch on top of the snow. Also I am hoping to set up a paddock system and plant some vines, trees and berry bushes etc around the edges so they can have things to forage on that don't require a major effort to produce, as well as to provide some shade and shelter from the harsh winds and intense high elevation summer sun.
Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its students - Robin Williams. tiny ad:
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