Sunday, February 15, 2015

FODDER FRENZY

This week on the homestead I strayed a little from my ever mounting to-do list. Any homesteader knows there's more work than rest involved in our lifestyle and at times the tasks can be overwhelming. In these times I look to those tasks which relax and center me in order to let go of some of this chaos.

Oddly enough one of those tasks is my fodder system. Tending to those little sprout lings brings me more joy than I ever could have imagined. 

Maybe it's the fact that I'm growing feed for our farm stead animals completely from scratch! 

Or maybe it's the fact that I can turn a 50 pound bag of barley seed into 300 pounds of fodder feed. 

It could even be the fact that I can feed my livestock fresh sprouts in the dead of winter. 

Or maybe it's just the ease at which I can pick up our bags of barely just a mile and half down the road. 

All of these are great reason for this lady to spend some time with the seeds! Just think, that is 6 pounds of fodder for every 1 pound of barley seed. So if a horse needs between 1.5-3% of its body weight in roughage per day then, for my girl Sweet Pea, who is roughly 1000 pounds, she needs anywhere from 10-12 pounds of feed per day..... Do you realize 1 pound of seed made into fodder covers about half of her intake for the day??? That's what I'm talking about!

OK, Q, what is this fodder that you speak of???


Basically its immature grass sprouts grown in trays to about 8-9 days maturity--depending on what your feeding, and the light accessible to the sprouts.

I grow my small amount of fodder in plastic storage drawers and it works great! At this point I am only supplementing my farms diet, but next winter I hope to provide at least 50% of the animals' diet with fodder.....

All you need to do is water the fodder twice a day, or keep it just moist enough so the sprouts will not dry out, and you're gravy! I have even heard it is best to recycle your water. I do this for a few days before changing the water, it starts to smell yucky especially in warm season when flies will be attracted to it.... and commonly drown in the water.... not so yummy. So use new water or recycle the old, especially if installing a pump system (my dream fodder system would have one!), whatever works best for you and your animals.

(Day 6: Rabbits love it about this age)
--Don't mind my chipped polish ;)--

Just imagine the possibilities!!! 

This means I can feed all of my animals fresh sprouted barley grass through the winter... A form of protein which is very important to foraging farm animals. Especially my free range chickens and horses. 

My hens and ducks prefer it around day 3-4 since the sprouts are still very new and white. Our hogs will eat just about anything so they like it at any stage, but like the birds I see the sprouts and seeds consumed but most of the greens left behind. So I find the older I let the fodder mature the more likely it will go to the rabbits and horses. 

Maybe a system like this???

I have ample space in our laundry room. It is a separate room inside our detached garage with lots of space, and the place I germinate my fruits and veggies (which I cannot wait to start!). 

So there it is. One of the easiest ways to feed your livestock that you never new about..

Bada bing bada boom
Watering the fodder,

Q