What is fodder?
Fodder is a mat of sprouted seeds that can be used to feed a variety of livestock and small animals, including chickens.
While we think of whole grains as food, they are really seeds formed by a plant to regenerate itself. Untreated whole grains need nothing more than a little moisture to try to do what they’re meant to do: grow.
By giving grains the conditions necessary to sprout, they’ll do what comes naturally with very little effort on your part.
The foundation for a fodder system is a quality seed. The four basic types of seed grains used to sprout fodder are rye, oats, barley, and wheat. All of these are fairly common ingredients in poultry diets, you may even find them in your prebagged feed. When these grains are sprouted, the germination process is said to make the nutrients up to 40% more digestible and available.
Fodder is not only super nutritious for chickens, ducks, and geese, providing them protein and fiber, they enjoy nibbling the tops and scratching at the roots looking for bugs.
How to grow your own fodder system
You will need
- Drawer storage trays (we recommend 3 sets)- see picture or shallow seed trays
- Drill with a 3-5mm bit
- Bulk whole grain – barley, wheat, or oats work well
Soak your grains of choice in a food-grade bucket or bowl overnight. This will jumpstart the process.
Take your drawer storage trays or shallow trays and drill holes around 5cm apart. Just on the bases, this is for drainage (exclude the bottom tray if using a drawer system).
Fill the top tray with soaked seed up to around 1cm deep. Repeat steps 1-3 every day until you have a full cycle set of fodder. As you fill a new tray, move it down the drawers (so the new tray is at the top)
Keep the grains moist, but not soaking wet, until they begin to sprout. Water the top once to twice daily and let the water run through to the lower trays. Empty the lowest tray before watering again. Make sure you’ve set them in a sunny place so they grow quicker.
After 3-7 days, your fodder will be sprouting nicely, depending on the temperature in your home or where the fodder is located. Once the tray is at your desired length flip the fodder matt out, give it to your chooks and cycle that tray to the top of the drawer system to fill the next day.
Fodder can take a few tries to master, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll begin putting together a constant rotational system that suits your needs.
Drawers suitable for fodder system