Amounts for fodder/sprouts

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by aladatrot, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. aladatrot

    aladatrot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2008
    LaPorte
    Okay, I don't have a handful of pet chickens. I have better than fifty in my obsession, and feeding all of them is more costly than feeding that high bred cutting horse in my barn. Been researching sprouting and foddering (insert giggle here) as a way to knock some of the shock out of the chicken feed bill. Not 100% sure this is going to cut costs, but I'm willing to try it.

    Found some great articles online, as well as some informative threads here. What I haven't located or possibly overlooked is how much to feed of these items. I'm still going to offer layer ration each day, but I'd sure like to cut back in my main bordello of 40 hens. These girls cannot free range due to neighborhood dogs, coyotes, and a pair of very active hawks. I keep them in front of pellets, plus flock blocks, and their house has huge wire windows and perches set up so they can see the world. They seem happy, they just eat so much that I'd be receiving dividends if I bought stock in purina (and if I were also their only customer).

    So for all of you sprouters and fodders out there [and mudders too], how much do I need to sprout per day for a flock of 40?
    Muchas Garcias.

    Cheers
    M
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    A friend was moving to a barn that offered fodder as their only feed choice. I did a bunch of research as well and an not impressed with the hype. A pound of grains is still only a pound of grain once it sprouts. It doesn't magically become 10x more calorically dense because you've added some water and let it sit for 5 days. The eggs will be tastier and have nicer orange yolks from the greens. I would look at other ways to cut your costs. Can you buy bulk feed? Can you formulate a layer blend with less costly grains? Do you have a small craft beer brewer or home brewers nearby where you can get spent grains? It's high in calories and protein and chickens love it. Best part is it's usually free. Do you have a bakery in town? They always have excess or spoiled product that they usually offer to pig farmers. I have a catering company next to me at work and they will save me produce, egg shells, pies... (mostly treats) in exchange for eggs. They screwed up a batch of 100 peach pies over the summer and the girls are still enjoying one now and then. I also plant a large winter squash garden just for the chickens (spaghetti squash is their favorite). If hay is cheaper than feed in your area, give them a small square of alfalfa.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  3. aladatrot

    aladatrot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2008
    LaPorte
    We buy feed in bulk from the co-op, and I could cut costs that way if I'd come up with some better storage options. We buy horse and cattle feed by the ton, but I'm afraid I'm pretty limited when it comes to space for poultry feed (plus rodents love poultry feed above all others). Currently having to buy my chicken feed no more than 350 lbs at a time. I guess one of my concerns is keeping them balanced. I use lights and timers to keep them laying all winter, and I need to make sure they are healthy and able to keep production up. I guess that's why I was so drawn to the sprouts and fodder as nutritious filler that will keep the hens from hitting their layer ration so hard. I figure having access to whole grains and green food has to be better than the meals and byproducts in poultry feed, so they'd be getting quality nutrition in addition to the commercial ration.

    I'm on the Texas Gulf Coast, so alfalfa fetches a premium - but I could add some dehydrated alfalfa shreds to their pan with the oats and greens. A pre packaged bag of shredded alfalfa is about the same cost per 50 lbs as a bag of oats.

    Cheers
    M
     
  4. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    You probably have read this article but JIK you haven't:

    http://www.sheepandgoat.com/articles/hydrofodder.html

    It's not a balanced nutritious filler as they want you to think. Yes it can have a place as a treat but it's a higher cost so what's the point?

    If you have a one ton minimum on all feeds, look for others to split the run with you. Moving away from a Purina product and going with a mill brand will save you $2-5 cwt. Talk to your mill about formulating a base feed for both the cattle and chickens. You will add grains and extras depending upon the end user.
     
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  5. aladatrot

    aladatrot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2008
    LaPorte
    I did read that, and it made me decide to only do a small amount of actual fodder (as did another article on how grass leads to deaths from impacted crops and gizzards). I'm a little baffled with all the pro articles and all the con articles. On one hand, we are all told to go the less processed route for our own health. They also speak of how raw grains are improved on a protein and chelated mineral level, increased vitamin levels, etc. The con articles on sprouts claim it to be not cost effective - which I can't fathom because of the inflated price of chicken feed. Again, I need to bear in mind that this is an attempt at cost savings, not only flock health. I don't expect the sprouts to magically turn into ten times more grain than they started as, but the increased protein and vitamins as well as the idea of un processed grains and not sweepings and God knows what else they put in commercial layer ration has to count for something.

    I do feel at least somewhat guilty for the fact that these hens cannot live as God intended. They've never enjoyed more than a few supervised trips outside, but the predator situation here is just not condusive to their being allowed that freedom. I love the movies, but if a pack of coyotes drug off one movie goer and big hawks snatched another each time, I'd keep my butt away from yhe movie house. I'm not willing to lose hens like I have in the past at a rate of one or two per day. That twinge of guilt is likely fueling this fire to some degree...

    Thanks for your input. You have certainly given me more to ponder.

    Cheers
    M
     
  6. QuietPony

    QuietPony Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here is my counter-top fodder set up. This tray system is about 5x7' and offers more than enough for my flock of 5.
    I used a drill to put holes in the trays for draining, and removed the white top of the shelf to give the greens more space to grow up. They youngest seeds start at the bottom after a long soak in an old cottage cheese container and move up each day or so after their daily rinse.
    No matter the nutritional value, I like doing this in the winter as a boredom buster for my layers in the winter. Not to mention it's quite fun to watch the grass grow on my kitchen counter while the snow flies outside. I only use wheat and BOSS for now. Sometimes combining the two in one tray. (Although BOSS is much slower to germinate and is often only cracking open by the time I feed out the wheat grass)

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    One has to be able to understand the charts and the difference between "as fed" and dry matter values. Most people are just looking at the as fed values and latch on to those numbers. What I have seen on the horse side of feeding fodder is the belief that it can replace or be fed with hay on a # for # basis. If the fodder is 88% water it's pretty obvious to me that you would need 8X by weight more to have the same calories. Just like pasture grass. The average horse eats over 100# of pasture to maintain and that same horse could do fine on 15# hay. One needs to focus on the calories in the fodder because that's the bottom line. Your hens need calories first to produce.
     
  8. gabejb

    gabejb New Egg

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    I thought I would contribute my understanding of sprouted fodder to this discussion. I have been feeding my 6 hens on sprouted fodder for about 3 months now. They get about 4-5 lbs finish fodder each day, which starts as about 1.5-2 lbs dry grain. I do give them calcium, grit, and a few handfuls of formulated feed each day. My ladies are 6 months old now, so they were still growing when I switched to fodder and they have matured and gained weight fine on fodder. I sprout my fodder for 3 days only, they are still mostly seeds with just tiny shoots emerging.

    Here's my understanding of the benefit of using sprouted fodder. A grain seed when it is dry and dormant is meant to be a nutrient STORAGE device, to protect the proteins, carbs, starches, and nutrients for the future plant that will grow from that seed, and so they are stored in long chemical chains and protected from being digested by an animal that might eat them. Once the seed begins to sprout the seed releases enzymes that begin to turn the seed into a nutrient DELIVERY device, allowing the proteins, carbs, starches, and nutrients to be more easily digested by an animal (chicken) that eats it. In this way, although the total protein content does not change, the amount of protein that the chicken should be able to digest goes up.

    Grains also contain chemicals called Anti-nutrients, that actively block a body's ability to digest that grain and to absorb the nutrients in that grain. When grain is sprouted it starts to eliminate these Anti-nutrients so that the growing plant can get at the energy in the seed, and if the sprouted grain is eaten the animal can absorb and use the nutrients and energy at a higher rate.

    I would love to hear how it goes introducing sprouted fodder to your flock.
     
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  9. bbyblueyes3

    bbyblueyes3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2013
    Thanks for the info and pic... Have been thinking about doing this
     
  10. JamesLewis

    JamesLewis New Egg

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    Mar 5, 2014

    Heres something else to add to all this for 10 bucks you buy a two pound bag of kelp meal. Gods super vitamin for the same price a two pound bag of alfalfa meal gods second super vitamin. You take those boil them to extract the nutrients and what not and add it to the water mix. Either bag could last you a month plus. This adds trace minerals to the mix plus plant growth hormones. Now your little seedlings are getting nutrients they need in small amounts that they then turn into extra vegational growth.

    1 pound of grains doesnt magically turn into 5 or 8 pounds of fodder those carbon atoms come from somewhere. Plus when they take in light energy it doesnt just vanish it turns into solid energy. If you took away the air and tbe light they wouldnt grow at all. In fact tbey would simply ferment. So in short a pund of grain turns into 5-8 pounds of fodder because its growing not just fermenting. Why do you think animals put on most of their summer weight in spring? Its beacuse its soft new growth its new life. Feeding fodder goes beyond just the science and fact sheets. It dives into something more metaphysical then truly physical. Dry weight drops because what was onces inwater soluble is now water soluble. Have any of you done the tests yourselfs to see what the results would be from seed to sprout? If you have it would be clear as day that the fodder has a increase if only minor so minor its hard to imagine in dry weight beacuse its taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Carbon is the main source of the dry weight. The starches that get washed off are then replaced by a more easily digested soild makjng the slightly lower dry weight better for the animals over all. Beacuse the body is able to readily digest it.
    If after all this you still think the loss of dry weight is to much then add in some bread crumbles or other dry human food scraps.

    As for the impacted crops. You dont have to use just barley or oats. Milo, corn, sunflower seeds, milet and so many other seeds can be used. If its a seed you can make fodder witb it. Hell i use a mix of commercial finch bird seed whole feed corn and rye grass seed. Plus a impacted crop will have to do alot more witb the size of bird how long you grow the fodder and the type of grit they have available to them. If your still worried you could use some device to shred or cut it up for you.
     

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