Fodder - how to ensure nutritionally complete?

Ephyra

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Apr 13, 2019
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Does anyone else grow fodder for their geese? I currently give mine wheat and barley fodder as a treat, but I'd prefer fodder to make up the majority of their diet as I feel it's much healthier/natural for them. But I'm worried they could end up missing out on nutrients, is there a particular blend of seed or way to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need? They do eat Mazuri waterfowl maintenance. Thanks!
 

DiYMama540

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I'm going to tag some of our fodder experts for this @gtaus @WannaBeHillBilly

I've played around a bit with fodder and sprouting, but haven't tried making it their complete diet. My guess is you will still have to supplement with their regular feed. As I'm sure you know, geese are feathered piggies! In order to keep them full, you'll be looking at a pretty large fodder operation.
 

Ephyra

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Apr 13, 2019
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Feathered piggies describes them perfectly!! Love that. I agree that supplementing their regular feed would be best. I was hoping to do maybe 80% fodder though, or whatever is ideal for their health - I read an article here that suggested 80% grass to 20% feed/grain. I only have two geese at the moment but a large operation doesn't bother me! Thanks for the help!
 
Sep 2, 2018
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Thank you very much @DiYMama540 for pinging me!
I do not know much about Geese diet other than that true vegetarians and exceptionally good grasers. - As much as my Ducks love their daily fodder ration, fodder alone would not cut it for them, they need protein for the eggs. - From what source do Geese get their protein?
Producing fodder is relatively easy, even at larger scale if you use @gtaus fodder tower system. What kind of seeds you should use? - As many different seeds as you can get! Think about the diversity of plants on a pasture. It is not all grass that grows there!
I tried wheat, rye, oats, alfalfa and sunflower seeds, with different results. Wheat works best for me, @gtaus has the best results with barley. - You actually just sparked the idea of trying to turn grass-seeds into fodder in my brain…
As for the balance in your geese's diet: I would offer them as much fodder as they eat and you are able to produce and just give them free access to their grain or pellet food, so they can decide how much they need. Birds usually know very well what they need to eat.
 

Ephyra

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Apr 13, 2019
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Great info!! Thank you! Wow, I love that fodder tower system. Great point on diversity... I was hoping to try ryegrass and oats next. I'll try to add as much variety as possible and try free feeding the pellets - that does make sense! I'm not even sure how to tell, but I'm concerned that my goose may be overweight (very much a feathered piggy!), but I think if she had fodder to nibble away at all day she'd be less inclined to eat lots of pellets which I think are very high in calories? Do your ducks keep a good healthy weight this way? Thanks again for the help!
 

gtaus

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Does anyone else grow fodder for their geese? I currently give mine wheat and barley fodder as a treat, but I'd prefer fodder to make up the majority of their diet as I feel it's much healthier/natural for them. But I'm worried they could end up missing out on nutrients, is there a particular blend of seed or way to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need?
It's been a long time since I raised ducks and geese. Geese are particularly good at eating grass. When I had geese, I allowed them to free range on my lawn, and more importantly, I live on a lake and they were in the water a lot eating stuff. I always had commercial feed available for them, but they showed more interested in eating grass and lake stuff. They did not eat much commercial feed, but it was always offered. I don't know what nutrients commercial feed offers that the geese could not get from eating plants, but wild geese seem to grow strong and healthy without commercial feed pellets.

I am raising chickens now, and the commercial layer feed I give my birds contains oyster shells, which is something I don't believe they get from fodder. However, barley fodder contains 16.7 protein, which is almost exactly what my 16% protein commercial layer feed provides.

As to fodder nutrients, I am no expert, so I will offer this Sprouted Barley Fodder Fact Sheet by The NY Farm Viability Institute. What I find interesting in that barley fodder fact sheet is that the vitamins in grown fodder far exceed the vitamins in the barley seed itself. The other thing I keep reading about is that the birds are able to digest fodder and extract nutrients from the grass much better than eating whole grains. I don't know if that holds true for commercial feed, which is ground and pelletized grains. Also, fodder is as much as 95% water by weight, so 1 pound of fodder is not the eqivalent to 1 pound of whole grain.

I give my 10 chickens a half dish pan bin of fresh barley fodder every morning. It is used as a supplement to their layer feed, and not a replacement. But my chickens are laying eggs, it's in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and there is no other options for fresh green grass for my hens. They love the barley fodder and eat that before their commerical feed. I grow the fodder to give my girls some more natural, and healthy green options to eat. There will be no fresh grass to eat for months where I live.
 

gtaus

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Great info!! Thank you! Wow, I love that fodder tower system. Great point on diversity... I was hoping to try ryegrass and oats next. I'll try to add as much variety as possible and try free feeding the pellets - that does make sense! I'm not even sure how to tell, but I'm concerned that my goose may be overweight (very much a feathered piggy!), but I think if she had fodder to nibble away at all day she'd be less inclined to eat lots of pellets which I think are very high in calories? Do your ducks keep a good healthy weight this way? Thanks again for the help!
If you decide to grow fodder, and have options for a variety of grains, I would encourage you to grow the different grains separately from each other and not to mix the grains in the fodder bins (at least, not at first). What we have discovered is that different grains will sprout and grow better under different conditions. For example, I soak my barley seeds for 12 hours for maximum germination rate. @WannaBeHillBilly reports that soaking oat seeds for 12 hours drowns/kills the seeds and they will not grow. He found a 2 hour soak to be best for oat seeds. He is currently experimenting with various soaking times for wheat seeds, and I look forward to hearing the results of those tests. Also, the different grains grow fodder at different rates, so to maximize the fodder yield, I would suggest growing each type of seed in its own bin and not combine seeds into single bins. I think a variety of fodder grasses would be great for your geese, but just not mixed up in the same fodder bin.

As far as a bird being overweight, I have read articles that if you keep feed available 24/7, the birds will learn to only eat as much as they need, and only a little at a time. If you only feed them once or twice a day, they will learn to gorge themselves when food is available not knowing when it will be available again. I guess that makes sense to me, but I don't know how true it is as I have always had commercial feed available 24/7 for my birds. They seem to happy and healthy and nobody fights to get the food. None of my hens are overweight.
 
Sep 2, 2018
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Great info!! Thank you! Wow, I love that fodder tower system. Great point on diversity... I was hoping to try ryegrass and oats next. I'll try to add as much variety as possible and try free feeding the pellets - that does make sense! I'm not even sure how to tell, but I'm concerned that my goose may be overweight (very much a feathered piggy!), but I think if she had fodder to nibble away at all day she'd be less inclined to eat lots of pellets which I think are very high in calories? Do your ducks keep a good healthy weight this way? Thanks again for the help!
My ducks have no chance to gain too much weight: They have a lot of space to free-roam and forage and they use that every day. On top of that we live on a steep hillsite and running uphill requires even more calories. And don't forget their main task: Drilling hole after hole after hole into the ground until the whole hill becomes a sponge. 😂🤣
 
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