Guess what season it is in the Northern Hemisphere?! - Its FODDER Season! 🍀

Sep 2, 2018
7,894
31,397
1,357
Big Chimney, WV
My Coop
My Coop
What is fodder and what is it good for?
Fodder is the process of germinating seeds and feeding the resulting sprouts (and remaining seeds) to your animals. By feeding the sprouts to the animals the animals will benefit from both the seed's energy and the plant's energy. They will also enjoy eating some fresh greenery during the cold months, when nothing fresh grows outside and foraging. Side effects of feeding fodder may be a more active flock, healthier birds and an increase in egg production, even though it is winter.

How to grow fodder and isn't that a lot of work?
There are several methods to grow fodder, for small amounts you can grow fodder in jars, like described in last year's thread »Starting a Fodder adventure« from @FnWeirdo.
To grow larger amounts of fodder using a fodder-system is recommended. There are commercial solutions available, but those are expensive and are built to grow really large amounts of fodder, like for dairy farms. But there is an affordable solution available right here on BYC: @gtaus built himself a fodder-tower out of some scrap-wood last year and published the instructions in his article »My $10 Inexpensive DIY Fodder Tower with Dollar Tree Dish Bins«. I built one for myself, have used it last winter with great success and just started to grow fodder this year for my ducks.
With the fodder tower in place i can grow one large bin of greens for my ducks per day, spending less than 20 minutes of time per day:

Morning:
  1. Take the top-bin out to feed the ducks
  2. Weigh grains into a jar and cover them in water
  3. Pour water into the top bin and let it flow through
  4. Place the fodder-bin into a south-facing window so it can green up
Evening (after feeding the :
  1. Clean the fodder bin that was just used
  2. Move the remaining bins up one level
  3. Empty the water-catch bin at the bottom
  4. Pour the soaked grains into a cleaned bin and place it into the bottom rack

Now you made me curious, is there more information available?
Yes, there is:
I want to grow my own fodder now, where to buy the grains and what kind of grains?
Let me start with the kind of grains first: I have tried Alfalfa, Rye, Oats, BOSS and Winter-Wheat and so far Winter-Wheat grew best and the Oats were the most difficult ones. Soak the oats too short and they don't sprout, soak them too long and they don't sprout, too cold, too dry - they are just difficult. @gtaus was most successful with Barley - which seems to be unavailable in West Virginia.
Where to buy: Local seed- and feed-stores are a good source, fodder grains don't have graded for human consumption. And there are some large companies who sell seeds by the pound over the internet:
And of course the usual suspects, like Amazon and eBay, also you can buy bird feed at the local grocery stores and let it sprout.

No more excuses! Do something good for your animals and grow some Fodder!
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
3,036
11,522
637
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
@WannaBeHillBilly, Thanks for the shout out.

I started growing my winter fodder a little over a week ago. I had some wheat seed left over from last winter and tried to grow it in my fodder tower. My first batch was a disaster - the wheat fodder grew well, but it was full of mold. So, I had to dump the first batch into the compost pile. I adjusted down the amount of wheat per bin, added some bleach to the soaking solution, and the follow on bins have been better and my chickens seem to love the wheat fodder.

Don't know if the mold problem is due to the wheat seed itself, or if it is the fact that I bought the seed last year, etc.... At any rate, I just used the last bin's worth of wheat seed from my storage bucket today and will switch over to barley seed (last year's seed) to see if I get better results and less mold. If I still see mold problems with the barley seed, I'll be heading into town to buy some new barley seed. I had no mold problems last year growing barley fodder with fresh seed.

Both last year's barley and wheat seed were stored in plastic garbage bins out in the garage, so the seed is still good. If nothing else, I'll use that old seed and mix up a new batch of chicken scratch. Also, I still have some oats and BOSS to mix in the chicken scratch. A bag of cracked corn will finish the scratch mix. Like I tell people, growing fodder can be easy, but if you decide not to use the seed for fodder, you can always feed it to them in a scratch mix. Nothing goes to waste.

Anyway, hope your new fodder thread catches on fire and encourages others to give growing fodder a try. My hens love the fodder greens and that is all the green they will get until next May when our grass starts to grow here in northern Minnesota. Finally, just want to mention that I use my fodder as a supplement to a well balanced commercial layer feed and not as a substitute feed. Fodder is the only variety they get all winter here. But they love it.
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
8,243
35,923
933
Belding, MI
I did a "quickie" experiment with alfalfa in a couple of margarine tubs. That went over very well with the chickens. Now I'm trying four little tubs of chia seeds. (And I end up with the "ch-ch-ch-chia song in my head every day! Grrrr!) I have a three pound bag of chia from Costco; I figure that should last a looooong time. If they like this, then I will be starting new seeds every day of the week so that they have fresh greens all winter.

I also plan to try sprouts from seeds I got from a large weed that is in the amaranth family. I know it as red rooted pig weed. Can't beat free!
 
Sep 2, 2018
7,894
31,397
1,357
Big Chimney, WV
My Coop
My Coop
@WannaBeHillBilly, Thanks for the shout out.

I started growing my winter fodder a little over a week ago. I had some wheat seed left over from last winter and tried to grow it in my fodder tower. My first batch was a disaster - the wheat fodder grew well, but it was full of mold. So, I had to dump the first batch into the compost pile. I adjusted down the amount of wheat per bin, added some bleach to the soaking solution, and the follow on bins have been better and my chickens seem to love the wheat fodder.

Don't know if the mold problem is due to the wheat seed itself, or if it is the fact that I bought the seed last year, etc.... At any rate, I just used the last bin's worth of wheat seed from my storage bucket today and will switch over to barley seed (last year's seed) to see if I get better results and less mold. If I still see mold problems with the barley seed, I'll be heading into town to buy some new barley seed. I had no mold problems last year growing barley fodder with fresh seed.

Both last year's barley and wheat seed were stored in plastic garbage bins out in the garage, so the seed is still good. If nothing else, I'll use that old seed and mix up a new batch of chicken scratch. Also, I still have some oats and BOSS to mix in the chicken scratch. A bag of cracked corn will finish the scratch mix. Like I tell people, growing fodder can be easy, but if you decide not to use the seed for fodder, you can always feed it to them in a scratch mix. Nothing goes to waste.

Anyway, hope your new fodder thread catches on fire and encourages others to give growing fodder a try. My hens love the fodder greens and that is all the green they will get until next May when our grass starts to grow here in northern Minnesota. Finally, just want to mention that I use my fodder as a supplement to a well balanced commercial layer feed and not as a substitute feed. Fodder is the only variety they get all winter here. But they love it.
I got rid of all grains from last year, my experience is that older seeds have a significantly lower germination rate. Bought just 100lbs of winter wheat for ~$28 and will see how far i can get with that. Next time when i am at the seed store i will go to the bulk room and see if i can find some other seeds, like veggies or oil-seeds (rape or flax) and try to sprout those.
My ducks were down to 5 eggs per day and today, after feeding fodder for a week i got a full dozen!
 
Sep 2, 2018
7,894
31,397
1,357
Big Chimney, WV
My Coop
My Coop
I did a "quickie" experiment with alfalfa in a couple of margarine tubs. That went over very well with the chickens. Now I'm trying four little tubs of chia seeds. (And I end up with the "ch-ch-ch-chia song in my head every day! Grrrr!) I have a three pound bag of chia from Costco; I figure that should last a looooong time. If they like this, then I will be starting new seeds every day of the week so that they have fresh greens all winter.

I also plan to try sprouts from seeds I got from a large weed that is in the amaranth family. I know it as red rooted pig weed. Can't beat free!
NO! Not that chi-chi-chi chia sound! Now i have an earworm too! 🙉
Careful with Amaranths! I read on Wikipedia that
Like many other species of Amaranthus, this plant may be harmful and even deadly when fed to cattle and pigs in large amounts over several days. Such forage may cause fatal nephrotoxicity, presumably because of its high oxalate content.
Alfalfa fodder looks weird to say the least, like a can of tiny worms, but my ducks gobbled it down like crazy and couldn't get enough of it.
Please keep us updated on your results!
 
Sep 2, 2018
7,894
31,397
1,357
Big Chimney, WV
My Coop
My Coop
So, my fodder ALWAYS gets moldy after about 2-3 days post soak. Suggestions?
I'm leaning towards growing it in some dirt at this point just to control the microbes and just feeding the greens not the seed....
I follow wash my Winter Wheat grains twice in a pickle glass before filling the glass ½ full and then add some drops of bleach to the soaking water. Let sit for 6-10 hours and pour it into a bin, drain the soaking water out and wash the grains again.
I also add some bleach to the daily flooding water.
So far no problems with mold.
Also, my garage is unheated and between 8 and 10°C (46-50 F) which keeps any potential mold grow down.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom