I don’t remember where I first heard about fodder feeding for livestock, but from the beginning it made good sense: sprout and begin to grow the grains you feed your animals before you feed it to them.
It maximizes your feed dollars AND nutrition, a win/win.
Of course, it’s not effortless, or everybody would be doing it. But how hard could it be?
I’m about to find out.
First, I had to locate a source of livestock grade barley seed, unhulled. Fortunately, I was already connected with my local Azure Standard drop, so that part was just a matter of ordering the grain and collecting it from the monthly truck delivery site.
Then I had to decide on and construct my fodder feeding system.
I decided on a system of dollar store dishpans on a vertical rack.
I didn’t want to buy anything other than the grain and the dishpans, so I used 3 discarded cedar fence boards and some scrap square trim for the shelf supports.
After trimming off the more rotten ends of two of the boards for the sides, I still had enough length, about 64 inches, to space 7, 12-inch wide shelves along the length of the two sides.
I slanted the shelves about 6-7 degrees, alternating the angle of the shelves so that they would create a gravity powered watering system.
If that’s hard to picture, maybe this quick video will help:
Each of those bins will be filled with a week’s worth of sprouting barley in various stages of growth. As I water from the top, all the bins will get water. It saves time and space and I can collect the water at the bottom after the last bin has drained to water some lucky nearby plant.
When we first got our English Angora Rabbits, we fed them timothy hay (dried) and rabbit feed from the pet store. I also immediately began giving them fresh clover, sorrel, wheat grass, and lamb’s lettuce–whatever was fresh from the garden and yard. They seemed to prefer the fresh green food above the other feed, and who could blame them? Given the choice of fresh salad over dehydrated pellets I know which one I’d choose.
If I can get the fodder system going well, I plan to continue to offer them the feed and hay, but hopefully they won’t require as much, and will mainly eat the fresh fodder.
I’ll show you pictures of the growing barley hopefully soon, and let you know how the critters like it.