In the last several weeks our chickens have changed dramatically.
They gave us our first egg in December and since then their egg production has increased to three dozen per week.
Their temperament has started to even out to where they are not quite as feisty and will even allow themselves to be stroked when they are nibbling on scratch.
They have ravenous appetites. I wouldn’t necessarily say that is a change, that has pretty much been the standard since day one; but they have started to crave anything green and frequently wander from the protection of their little yard in search of it.
With the bitter cold weather we’ve had however, there has been little available to satisfy them. I was delighted then to learn about growing supplemental fodder for the girls and even more delighted when I was offered a sample from Incubator Warehouse.
What is fodder?
Fodder is simply feed for animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, and even chickens. For my girls, I’m viewing it as a supplemental feed: a nutritious snack to give them an extra boost through the winter months when foraging for greens is scarce.
The fodder I received from Incubator Warehouse was their layer blend: a combination of hard red wheat, barley, safflower seed, field peas, and sunflower seeds. The mixture is sprouted and grown in little trays until it resembles something of a chia pet, and then fed to the girls.
Why should I feed it to my animals?
1. Fodder provides high nutrition. Barley grain alone provides 12% protein but when sprouted and grown into fodder it increases to 15%.
2. It helps reduce feed costs. If you are paying extra for high quality feed and scratch then you know how expensive chicken feed can get. Fodder is filling. A 25# bag will last a long time, helping to offset the cost of feed.
3. It provides fresh greens year ’round. This makes the girls happy.
You can read more more about the benefits of fodder here on the Incubator Warehouse website where they offer four different reasonably priced fodder blends.
How do I grow it?
This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you purchase an item.
My fodder instructions were provided with several youtube links demonstrating inexpensive, easy to make, but rather large fodder growing systems.
Since I have just seven chickens, and the fodder is only going to be supplemental, I chose to scale down the process to make it a bit more manageable and conducive to my situation. Here is what I did:
- 1. I purchased several small food safe plastic containers like these.
- 2. With a small drill bit, husbie drilled a series of drainage holes on the bottom of each.
- 3. As per instructions, I filled each container with 1/2″ of fodder mix that had been soaked in water overnight.
- 4. Under the kitchen faucet, I ran water through the fodder, making sure that it drained well.
- 5. I set the rubbermaid containers on a lid to provide air circulation so the fodder wouldn’t mold.
- 6. I repeated the rinsing process 2-3x per day until it had sprouted to resemble a tender grass.
- 7. When it had grown to a length of about 2-3″ I broke off chunks and fed it to the girls with their morning scratch.
Notes and Observations:
* The fodder grew very quickly. It sprouted almost overnight and had reached a desirable height within a week.
* It also molds easy. Because this is supplemental, I fed it to the girls in small amounts at a time. The leftover didn’t keep well and ended up developing mold through the roots. In future it would be best to grow what can be consumed in a day.
* I learned that when it comes to chickens it should be treated with caution. Since food is processed through their crop, long strands of grass can compact and create issues. For this reason, I did not let the fodder to grow any taller than 2″ and even then I broke it up before feeding.
* Fodder can also be given just in the sprouted form, (think bean sprouts for chickens) or even fermented which is something I plan to try next.
I received a sample of this product from Incubator Warehouse but the thoughts and opinions are all my own.
Have you ever thought about feeding fodder to your chickens?
Find this post and others like it linked to: Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways