Howdy! Mary here.
Let’s talk about barley…
I acquired a couple big bags of barley from a friend in the hopes of building an elaborate grain sprouting/fodder growing system to feed my chickens. What I didn’t factor in was the amount of time that I don’t have to build such a system. I did some quick research, found an easy method and before getting analysis paralysis dove right into the process.
What I found out is that sprouting grains is incredibly easy. You can do it, I can do it, and so can you.
“Well great, now I know that I can sprout grains, I need to know how to sprout grains. And also, why?”
Reasons to sprout grain:
- It really cuts back on feed costs! I already ferment my feed which has saved tons of money already but what if you had yet another cost effective food source that can feed your chickens less for less? Meaning, sprouted grains are full of great nutrients and are very filling, making your chickens healthier, happier and full of good food while using less than half the amount you would normally use in dry grain! Bulk grains are also very cost effective to purchase.
- A source of entertainment for your chickens. My hens go absolutely crazy for these sprouted grains. I either put a few handfuls on top of their feed in the morning, or sprinkle a bunch of grains in the run for them to have fun scratching and pecking for.
- Why do you need a third reason? I think all things mentioned above are convincing enough. Plus I got nothing else besides this: Your chickens will thank you. OH if you let the sprouts grow long enough into little grass-like things, your hen’s egg yolks will be far brighter and richer. That’s a plus.
How to sprout grains(the lazy method)
- Find a good size bowl.
- Put a few cups of grains in it. (I’ve only tried barley but the possibilities are endless until you’ve maxed out all varieties of grain that exist) There are many different types of wheat, oats, peas, lentils, etc. But make sure you have ones that are whole grain and minimally processed. Split peas or rolled oats probably won’t sprout whereas whole peas or steel cut oats most likely will!
- Cover the grains with water and soak for 8-24 hours or for ease of mind, overnight. It’s not an exact science.
- Once your grains have soaked, strain the water out and spread the grain on a paper towel lined baking tray. Make sure the tray you have is deep enough to hold 1/4-1/2” thick layer of grain once it’s all spread out.
- If you want to be super attentive, go for pouring water over your grains and draining completely twice a day. I got away with watering and draining when I remembered but making sure they were always moist. Also, there is no special light needed! A kitchen counter will do just fine and long as there is some light. I did mine in the rabbit shed which has a window.
- Now all I wanted was sprouted grain but if you want full on grass fodder, you will need a different system (and teacher because I have never grown it to full height XD). The grains can be fed to your hens at any point during the sprouting process. The longer you let them grow, the more nutritious they’ll be for your hens! Day 3 is usually when I start to put some big handfuls on their feed.
I can personally attest that this saves a lot of feed. I have 17 hens and they were eating half the amount of feed that they normally eat when I put a few handfuls of sprouts on it. Now I can ferment less feed, use less feed, and save money in the long run!
I would totally recommend sprouting grains for your chickens! It’s super easy and they love, love, LOVE it! Just keep in mind that sprouted grains don’t replace chicken feed. They need a good variety of different grains, plants and supplements to ensure the best health possible. Also make sure that your chickens always have lots of grit! It is important anyway, but especially when feeding things other than normal feed. I just dump buckets full of gravel in the run and there are plenty of sizes of rock to choose from, plus my run is already very rocky.
Let me know if you try sprouting grains! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂
K bye! You’re awesome! Have a fantastical day.
“I have too many chickens.” ~ No one ever