Thursday, March 31, 2016

Growing Sprouts for Chickens

I've kinda dropped out of the blogging world for a bit but I'm heading into April with the best of Intentions. I've decided to do the A to Z blogging Challenge again this year to get myself back into the swing of writing again. I really do enjoy the writing, the challenge as well as meeting new people and find new awesome blogs!

My getting back into it post is one  that has been brewing around for a while. I was supposed to be a February post, back when the chickens didn't have any greens, other than what I was hiding from them in the garden. Sorry girls, it's still off limits but you have other things to keep you busy now.
I was feeling sorry for them since the pickings for fresh greens was a bit slim, oh they were still getting scraps and their favorites but the foraging just wasn't happening. So I decided to create some foraging opportunities for them.

What is a Spout? A sprout is a whole grain or seed that has been grown with just water. Once a seed has been germinated it is considered a sprout until it reaches 4 inches, after that it is considered Fodder, which is a whole nother concept. Obviously they start out the same way but since Fodder grows longer it runs the risk of growing bacteria and therefore it takes a bit more attention and work.

Are there any benefits to sprouting grains over just regular feed?
I think so and some science backs that up. Our Girls are spoiled and can get into trouble during the colder months so a bit of well placed sprouts can entertain them as well as give them something healthy in their diet. It has also been shown that sprouts are easier to digest and that the sprout it's self has beta-carotene as well as more available nutrients  as compared to the unsprouted grain.

What kind of seeds should I use? I've sprouted grains and beans for our consumptions but I wanted to try something that would interest the mini velociraptors we have in the yard. So I did some research and came up with Scratch and Peck Foods . They have a great variety of grains, suitable for sprouting or just scatter feedings. I picked the 3 Grain Scratch. As you can see below it's non-gmo and organic, which are both important to us. This type includes Barley, Wheat and Oats, all great for sprouting. We don't have a local retailer so I ordered mine from Amazon. It's not the only thing out there and you can try a variety of seeds, grains or beans that work great for chickens.

Here's a view of the grains. We'll have enough for sprouting, and treats for a while!

Is it hard or time consuming? Sprouting grains is an easy task, that really only takes minutes a day for great results. So if you've sprouted before or aren't really sure what I'm talking about this will walk you through some of the basic steps to get started growing a great supplement for your poultry

Do I need a bunch of special equipment or a ton of space? Nope, I use a couple of containers I had on hand, but you can use jars, used berry containers or check out some of the serious sprouting options out there. I kept my on my kitchen table, it gets a good amount of sun, but window sills are great places too. The temps should be between 45 and  70 degrees. 

Ready to get started? Good Deal here we go!

1.The first thing is to take your grains/seeds and soak them in clean water for 8 to 24 hours. Make sure the water covers the grain completely. I soak mine overnight. It's the last thing I do and then when I get up they are ready to go.
2. Getting your containers ready, Pick a container with very small holes or poke holes in the container you plan on using. Not too big because you don't want to loose you seeds when you rinse. Any size container will do but I recommend smaller containers just because they are easier to handle, and a small amount of seeds will produce a large amount of sprouts.

3.Drain your grains well and spread them into your container 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.

4. The sprouts will need to be watered and drained completely twice a day for 5 to 6 days. At which time they will be ready to fed to your poultry! I took my containers and put them in a larger container with water, allowed them to sit for a few minutes and they took them out and left then in the sink to drain.

To give you an idea of what you can look forward to, here is a day by look at my efforts!

Day One

Day Two

Day Three- roots are really growing fast!

Day Four- Sprout Side

Day Six - Let the Feast Begin!

I had a few so I strategically placed them around the yard

And the great part is there is no waste! They eat the entire thing!

I hope this encourages you to grow some sprouts for your Flock, I'll be starting another batch this weekend for our newbies, since they are shut in until they get a bit bigger!
Aww aren't they the cutest?

Thanks for stopping by and remember to check out the A to Z Challenge which starts on the 1st! No Fooling here!. I'm going to be talking about a different kind of Fruit,Veggie or Herb everyday. You might just find something you can't wait to try!