How many square inches of fodder per chicken?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by AnimalLover99, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. AnimalLover99

    AnimalLover99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know this has already been asked but I haven't seen many answers, and the two I saw were very different. One said 1 sq in per chicken a day, another said 4? Does anyone else have any input? I am going to have about 20-25 chickens and was thinking about feeding half of a 10"x10" container a day, right in between the two answers I saw. They would free range part time and have oyster grit and maybe some layer pellets if needed. Does that amount sound about right?
     
  2. LBKS

    LBKS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What are you trying to do with your fodder supplement? Are you aiming for as much fodder as possible to reduce feed costs? Are you aiming for optimal health benefit of fresh greens? What kind of fodder are you going to be sprouting? And how thick are your fodder mats going to be in seed per sqft? How long will you grow them for? There's tons of questions that make answering these kinds of questions hard and the information might help someone answer you. I think your best bet is to pick a starting point and experiment.

    I can tell you what I did for determining fodder for a rabbit: I started a few fodder mats with different seed density (one cup per sqft, 2 cups per sqft, etc). Grew them out 7 days (the amount of time I decided to grow fodder for) to figure out which density I was going to use -- the one that gave me a mat that held together nicely and a good amount of greenery to feed. For my purposes, I settled on 2.5 cups per sqft (which held together okay after the end of my growing period, in the light conditions I provided). Once I started making uniform mats, I put out a quantity and checked if it was gone in 24 hours. If it was, I gave more the next time. Once I got to where there was a little waste, I used that amount to make sure all that could be eaten was being eaten - a little waste was okay for the goal of maximizing the amount of greens eaten.

    In the case of these mats, it was actually helpful to use a slight bit more seed for looser mats - they just fall down after the greens are ripped off and the chickens pick through the "crumbs" of oats, roots, and green nibs -- so no waste and the mat cleaned up after itself since the rabbit wouldn't eat the root part of the mat even if it stayed up there.

    If I were feeding chickens, I might want a tighter mat so they can break the sprouted leaves a bit better instead of pulling the whole thing up without breaking it into smaller bits. I might also grow it for less time so the sprouts weren't so long - thinking risk for crop impaction if they are too long.
     
  3. AnimalLover99

    AnimalLover99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was thinking about using hard red winter wheat, and for the thickness I was planning on about 1/2 inch deep, I don't know how many cups per sq feet that is. I want to do it mostly to cut feed costs, but also for their health. I guess ill just have to experiment, thank you for your input. And how much hay do you feed your rabbit in addition to the fodder? I also have a rabbit and might use fodder for his feed too.
     
  4. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    wheat sprouts are particularly good for rabbits, specially nursing does. how much fodder depends on how far you are going to let the sprouts go. Is it going to be LS (length-of-seed)? or 1 or 2 inches? is this the only fresh food they get? LS fodder is basically still wheat with some vitamins (slightly fewer calories, slighlty more vitamins). Wheat grass is a vegetable (very little calories, lots of vitamins and minerals). My guess is that for wheat grass, somewhat less than one square foot per adult chicken per day (maybe 80%) if it is the only fresh food.
     
  5. LBKS

    LBKS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Inch depth is another good metric, I just use cups/sqft because that's how I measure out my seed to sprout so the mats are consistent - I'd say my mats are about 3/4 of an inch deep since I use a thick seed base. I haven't sprouted wheat mainly because I haven't found a good source for it, but from what I understand it grows a lot faster than oats so you should get a denser mat from it.

    My rabbit hasn't really gone through any noticeable amount of hay since I started feeding fodder mats, but my fodder mats are long leaved (6 inches + leaf length) and in enough quantity that she doesn't run out before the next 12"x12" mat comes in - so she may just not be eating it much (if at all) with fodder available. She has pellets available in addition to hay and fodder, I'd say she goes through the contents on one of those small metal cage wall feeders every week or so. The current bag of pellet feed is going to last forever at this rate. She's about 10 pounds, for reference on how much she eats -- smaller rabbits would probably need less fodder/other food sources.

    If you have rabbits and chickens, I think you'll get a lot of bang for your buck from fodder mats since the chickens will clean up the roots/seed portions after the rabbit in addition to any fodder they get for themselves.

    As far as the chicken fodder end of things, I haven't feed it to my chickens in mats yet, they have just gotten leftovers. I'd think they'd eat less per day than my rabbit though, so I'm guessing you'd never need to go over a sqft per chicken -- but would still need other forms of food for them to eat to make sure they get proper nutrition and sufficient calories. I think the rule of thumb stands at 1/3 of a chicken's diet can come from forage, which would leave you with 2/3 of their diet to come from other food sources. I'd guess that you could get more of it from fodder since fodder is sort of forage on top of a grain mat base for them, but I would err on the side of caution.

    Good luck with your experiments in fodder, it's pretty rewarding for the amount of effort it takes.
     
  6. desertrocks

    desertrocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    I just started my first fodder experiment using wheat seed I got from the bulk bin at WinCo which is a grocery store.
    I have 10"x20" plant trays which I drilled with 3/32" holes an inch apart in the bottom rails of the tray for drainage.
    I soaked the seed overnight in a mason jar full of water. I made the mistake of only buying 1# of seed so the mat is going to be pretty thin this first time.
    I put it in the tray yesterday and am seeing germination after 24 hours. Now I wish I had bought 2# of seed as it would have provided about a 1/4-3/8" mat in that size tray.
    I also picked up a pound of groats which I will get another pound of and try it in the other tray I prepared.
    33 layers/pullets and 4 young roos, I am figuring a 10X20 mat every other day.
    Once I am sure things are going as planned, I will post the entire process with pics.
    I will probably go to a regular feed store for grains after this effort.
    2# of seed will fit nicely in a 1/2 gallon container for soaking purposes so I am using 1/2gal. Mason jars. Easy to mark so I can distinguish between seed varieties. The groats and wheat seed look very similar unless it was mislabeled at the store.
     
  7. desertrocks

    desertrocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh yeah, this is going to work.
    After soaking overnight and watering 2X a day, this is where we are at after 72 hours.[​IMG]

    This has been sitting inside the shed the whole time. Door faces north so it has only been getting indirect light and not a lot of that. Afternoon temps are still hitting the 90's but night temps are around 70°.
    So far so good.
     
  8. LBKS

    LBKS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice growth! They'll keep growing well even in colder temperatures, my household swings from upper 50's to mid 70's right now and at most it's moved things to an 8 day cycle instead of 7 day cycle for growth. With your warmer temperatures I bet your mats thicken up nicely rather quickly.
     
  9. desertrocks

    desertrocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am putting a pound of groats in a jar to soak today so I can compare the 2. I am also going to get enough trays to run a tray a day on a 10 day cycle. Headed to a feed store this weekend to look for seed in 50# sacks. I may start a fresh thread on it so anyone interested can try it. I am amazed as to how easy it is.
    I was a bit concerned about the heat since I am doing it in the shed but now I am pretty sure I could have started it a month ago.
    I will definitely see how far into the summer next year I can do it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015
  10. desertrocks

    desertrocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Groats went into tray yesterday.
    Bah.......
    No love from the server this morning. For some reason it won't imbed images.
    It appears that it is a glitch with my phone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015

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