I'm sure by now you've seen all the posts about growing fodder for chicken feed. You've probably also read (or participated) in the countless forum threads happening on various chicken sites. I'm not going to bore you with the details you've probably already read, instead I'm going to show you how to do it CHEAPLY. I've seen some beautiful fodder systems, but many of them seem to be either very expensive to build (yes, I said build) or they happen to have access to a lot of raw materials that most of us don't have. I have to say I am mighty impressed with the automatic watering systems some have set up, but I can't wire a darn thing to save my life! So lets start with the easy-peasy cheap way to do it.
First get a bag of seed. I've been using winter wheat for a few weeks since that's what my feed store has right now. A 50lb bag was $12. Barley also works well if you can get it. Then you'll need a big cup to pour water and a strainer (I had extras in the kitchen, the dollar store has them) At first I used whatever extra containers I had laying around, but this gave me various sizes of finished feed. I had 2 plastic shoe keepers, a few old baking pans and some weird plastic food molds that I have no idea where I got. I eventually switched to aluminum baking pans from the dollar store. A 2 pack of 13X9 disposable baking pans was only $1. I also use a plant sprayer that I bought at Walgreen's last Summer for $1. I set the whole thing up on the top of my dryer in the laundry room. You need a temperature of about 60-70 for fodder to grow well, my laundry room stays about 60 in the winter. I think my husband would kill me if I tried to set up in any other room though. lol (this is day 1-5, picture above is day 7 & 8)
The directions are pretty simple. Pour some seed in the bottom of a pan and cover with water. Let sit about 12 hours and rinse. Drain excess water. Rinse it through the strainer and just toss whatever falls out back in. Rinse a few times a day for 7-9 days then feed to the chickens.
I found it's harder to rinse the first few days until the seeds start to form a 'mat' of roots. In the first few days I use the plant sprayer to mist several times a day and only rinse twice a day so as not to disturb them too much. Just toss back in whatever falls in the strainer. Once they have a good root mat and about 1/2 inch of growth I rinse a few times a day and just tip them to drain. I move them out of the laundry room around day 6 or 7 and put them in my office window to finish up. Plants give off oxygen, right? I figure they do me some good sitting in a room I always use, plus seeing something green keeps me from having the winter blahs! lol
This whole thing cost me about $20 including the seed. When I weighed the pan at the start it was less then 1lb....on day 9 it was 6lbs! That's a big change. Think about that...it's over 5 lbs of 'free' feed! I go through 3 bags of feed a week this time of year, so any dent I can put in the feed bill is much appreciated.
Wheat fodder is an excellent source of nutritious greens for your chickens. In fact, your cat will love it too! Check out this post: Growing Cat grass. If you're on a health kick, you can even make wheat grass juice for yourself! I think I'll just feed it to the chickens though!
Shared at: The Backyard Farming Connection & Green Thumb Thursday
Also shared at: The Welcoming House
And: Green Eggs and Goats
And: Tilly's Nest
Plus: The Creative Homeacre Hop