There are as many ways to grow fodder as there are people doing it. There are so many variables for each individual that no single way will work for everyone in the same way.
My system is only used in the winter when the green turns to brown outside and my flock can't find greens from themselves.
They are free range all year but when the snow cover is down, they venture out only in the shoveled paths.
I have a flock of around 15 - 20 throughout winter and feed a shoe box sized "block" to them each day.
I keep my set-up in my house which is heated with gas forced air and a wood burning fireplace occasionally.
I rinse the seeds (do a really good job of winnowing http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/winnow
and then rinsing if you use grains that have not been cleaned well) and then soak them overnight. I use the strainer below and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grains at a time.
Other than rinsing the seeds, do you add peroxide, vinegar or something else to the initial soak water? Or you haven't had any trouble with mold, etc. TIA!
No mold problems here.
I think that is because:
- Air inside the house during the time of year I grow fodder is dry. The dry air is why I use the damp paper towel the first couple of days. Once I see the root break-out, I know they don't need the extra moisture (usually about 48 hrs after soak-the "third day").
- I do a very good winnow and rinse on "dirty" seeds.
- I don't put too many seeds in the box, a thin layer, a few seeds thick is all I do.
- I drilled lots of holes in my boxes. Being aware to put the holes in the lowest parts of them to allow the water to drain off. NO SEEDS SITTING IN WATER.
- I don't reuse water. Fresh clean water for the soak and each rinse. We have a well with a water softener so no high water bills if I use lots of water. I know the availability/cost of water can be a problem for others.
- I don't close up the "greenhouse". It is open and gets good air circulation.
- I don't stack the boxes on top of each other so good air circulation.
- I don't grow them for very long, mine are fed when the green leaf/blade is just starting.
- I scrub the container thoroughly and spray with diluted oxine or vinegar water after I feed from it and let it dry until the next morning before reusing it.
This may be time consuming but I am an empty-nester working part-time and have the time. I spend extra time during the nicer parts of the year out in the yard doing all kinds of things. I look at the extra time spent on fodder well worth it during the not-so-nice part of the year. I know the flock is getting something good for them and it keeps them healthy and ready for the breeding season.
Just want to say that I don't heat the coop or use artificial lighting for egg production during the winter. I have Icelandic chickens that want to brood their own chicks in the spring and the pullets born in April and early May will start laying October and lay through winter.....unless they try to go broody in February. Pullets hatched after May will not usually start laying until January when the days start lengthening. It is important to me to keep some "live" food available to them during winter and fodder is not that much work once you have a system down. Depending on where you live, getting the seed will be the hardest part.