Fodder Feeding for Chickens and Rabbits

by Daisy

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.





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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah Andrews June 11, 2016 at 9:45 am

Awesome idea! I, too, have recently begun to think this will be a good thing to do for my ducks. Right now they get what my chickens get, but my granddaughter has literally overfed everyone until there is no scratch feed left. So, in order to off-set the cost I’ve begun to think maybe I should start up a couple of off limit areas for growing extra food for them.

I will be following your progress with this project of yours and am looking forward to your results. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring me to get moving on this.

By the way, our wild birds also eat what the chickens eat and now there are lots of millet plants popping up all over the place. If only I could get them to all “go” in the same spot…lol.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Daisy June 11, 2016 at 9:53 am

Debbie–I hope this works out, because it solves a lot of issues, such as knowing what is in the feed I give my animals, being able to feed organic without the astronomical cost, and improving the nutrition in their diets. I want happy, healthy buns and birds! If you try it, too, let me know how your system works for you. And good luck on toilet training the wild birds! Ha!

pamela June 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I appreciate the slanting of the bins; however, would this be expedited of there were drain holes in the bottom of pans or is the necessary amount of water much greater than that for sprouting?

Daisy June 11, 2016 at 1:04 pm

pamela–Yes, I forgot to mention I drilled drain holes along one side of each bin, the side at the lower end of the slant. Thanks for pointing that out.

Cynthia June 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Will you be feeding this to your chickens as well? We just got 6 girls last month, so we are currently building our coop – hope it gets done this weekend! I am hoping to move them into a more healthy diet from medicated chick feed soon! 🙂 Thanks for the great ideas!

Daisy June 12, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Cynthia–Yes! I know my chickens and I’m almost sure they’ll love it! I’ll let you know as soon as I have some fodder ready, how they like it.

Janis Fisher June 13, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Hi Debbie. We have successfully grown fodder for our farm (3 horses, pig, chickens, rabbits) and found that when the temperature got above 65 degrees, the fodder would mold. Moldy feed kills! Fortunately, we were vigilant and prevented any disasters, but the potential for mold-related deaths is something to be hyper-cautious about. We are building a climate-controlled fodder house so that we can feed this wonderful nutrient dense food year-round. Another issue we ran into was that animal feed barley is also being dessicated with RoundUp to save on harvesting time. All grain is now being ‘dessicated,’ whether RoundUp Ready or not, human food or animal, unless it is organic, and the barley that was sprouting when we first tried this no longer does. Something to check into when purchasing your barley or other sprouting grains. I hope your results are as positive as ours. It is well worth the effort. Janis

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