Small scale sprouted barley fodder for feeding chickens, poultry, livestock etc.
We have been experimenting with small scale fodder growing, for our home animals. The biggest challenge has been keeping the wild birds and animals out of it, every passing creature seems to find it too delicious to pass up, which is a good sign.
There are some large scale automatic fodder solutions around, which are suitable for farming and livestock, which gave us our inspiration.
Why do this? Store bought poultry mix is expensive, around $30 for 40kg and lasts about 3weeks depending on the amount of chooks, vs $27 for 40kg of barley, which sprouted like this, a 40kg bag should last over a year.
It’s not meant to replace other feed, but supplement it with fresh green barley sprouts.
Barley seems to be the grain of choice as it contains a lot of goodness, and when sprouted it is even more beneficial, and fermented even better, wink wink :]
The wildlife forced us to make a fully caged compound to sprout the grain, and since doing this it has grown very well.
Barley roots are very vigorous and grow bigger than the tops, so not much soil or mulch is need as the roots support everything by creating a mat at the base.
We have used pots with a small amount of soil, then add the grain and a sprinkle of mulch over the top, mainly to retain moisture.
The grain is sprouted in about 3 days and is a lush green by about 1-2 weeks, just throw the whole lot to the chooks and they do the rest.
The pots are starting to seem a bit small, so are trialling old styrofoam veggie boxes for now. The compound should be able to fit about 7 boxes in it, so a replanting every three days or so should produce a steady amount of fodder.
The compound is simply an old metal bed frame with legs welded on it and wire wrapped around, should keep the swamp hens, kangaroos and other wildlife out :]
Update: One drawback with this system has been that it works too well. It keeps the wildlife out but is a bit difficult to access, and tends to get forgotten. We need to come up with an easier way to lift and lower the cage.
We have been supplementing the poultry food with sprouted barley and whatever spare greens we have for over a year now, and it has worked quite well. Spinach and mangle wurzel greens have been growing furiously and have been added to the diet as well.
We also hope to plant a few fruit tree’s in the chook yard such as mulberry and fig.