I stumbled upon sprouting for livestock when I was looking for information on sprouting for my family and it became a subject I needed to know more about. The cost of feeds has and is going to continue to go up, and even though all of our animals (except the rabbits) free range graze all day everyday, we still buy feed to supplement. We currently spend about $400 a month on feed, not including hay that we purchase for the rabbits & for winter. When I started researching, I was blown away by how much we could save while increasing not only their nutrition but the amount it would produce using a fraction of what we're currently feeding.
What was really interesting to me was that once I started looking for information, I found there were quite a few others who'd already started and were sharing their journey (at the bottom of the post I've got the links of the places I found). Facebook groups for backyard chickens and rabbits were talking about, goat farms and alpaca herd owners were doing it. Then I went out to a farm a couple of hours from us and they had a wheelbarrow sitting at the entrance of their barn full of fodder that they'd sprouted in their workshop! They were feeding it to their goats, ducks & chickens and they gobbled it up!! That was all I needed to see to know that this was something we HAD to learn to do and implement as soon as we could.
Starting the overnight soaking
1/04/13 - I started with a small amount, 1/4 cup. I want to make sure what I'm using will sprout before investing bigger amounts. I'm using what I've already got here on the farm.
From left to right - Jar 1: Pasture mix (orchard, timothy, fescue & rye grasses with red & ladino clover) - this is what we use to seed our fields for the cattle, horses & goats.
Jar 2: 5 grain scratch (corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, black oil sunflower seeds) - this is part of what we feed our chickens in the evening. I don't have much faith that this will do anything because its already been mixed and the corn is cracked.
Jar 3: Black oil sunflower seeds - we mix these into all of the feeds. One of our rabbit does will dig through her feed and pick out all of the boss, throwing the rest out, so she gets hers separate in a small bowl.
Jar 4: Winter wheat - we use this to seed our fields as well as have one field just for growing it thats fenced off from the cattle.
5 grain scratch close-up
I weighed everything out.
The pasture mix - 1/4 cup = .80 oz (23 grams)
The 5 grain scratch - 1/4 cup = 1.35 oz (38 grams)
The black oil sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup = .85 oz (24 grams)
The winter wheat - 1/4 cup = 1.50 oz (43 grams)
Pasture mix close-up
These charts are not my creation, they were posted on facebook.
This chart came from The Nourished Seed, but their wordpress blog has been deleted at the time of this posting.
This chart is from Oolaboolah and is part of their article on sprouting nuts and seeds for good health.
Part 2 will be tomorrow, I'll share the rinsing/draining of the jars and what we'll be using for cover. I'll also be sharing more information from those who've run into issues, are having great successes and how their animals are responding.
Links for great sprouting/fodder information
I love the setup that Quartz Ridge Ranch has and they've been so encouraging with their support! They've got quite a few posts about fodder on their blog with lots of great pictures!
Little Seed Farm shares their sprouting routine for their goats with lots of pictures and information.
Over at Promiseland Farm they've got a video showing how they prepare their seeds and talk about the nutrient values and what to look for when you're purchasing seeds.
In the Backyard Chickens forum a couple shares their setup and success sprouting in the PNW on their back porch! Lots of pictures and steps.
Paca Pride Guest Ranch is sprouting on a bigger scale for their, you guessed it, alpacas! They are also in the PNW. One of the things I really liked about their journey is that they had the sprouts tested by their vet to confirm the increased nutrition value. In the comments they talk about places to find seed on the west coast.
Over at Alpacanation.com there is a great thread with a farm owner, Holly Zech, that has been sprouting successfully for her alpacas since June 2011. Full of great information!
To Sing with Goats shares a tutorial and parts list.
YumUniverse breaks down what sprouting is, how it works, why you soak & rinse as well as the nutritional value for people. Lots of great pictures and information!
Faster Fodder - Florida inmates sow barley as part of an inmate training & self-sufficiency program