My fodder system diary.

RebelChief

Songster
5 Years
Mar 7, 2014
214
637
186
Brownsville, TX
Good morning all....thanks to gatus I was inspired to grow fodder for my 8 lovely ladies. I'm in week two and I thought I would share how things are going.

My first thoughts on my fodder rack. Gatus please let me know how to tweak this.

1. The top bucket for water I put holes all over the bottom. Should I have only put holes in one end and slanted it like the others? The first fodder pan gets a bit of a harsh rain shower.

2. I think maybe my slants might be a bit too aggressive and the water might be flowing too fast. Will it slow a bit as the root system develops?

I'm starting my seeds for now in a large ball canning jar with screen on top.

So the first seeds I tried out were a mixed wild bird seed that had all the usual stuff in it including black oil sunflower seed and the other jar was quinoa (I just happened to have some laying around). The birdseed seems to be growing nicely. After the soak and sprouting time I moved them to the first grow level.

Today I added the second soak and sprout group which is Wheat berries and Barley. They both have a good sprout. I checked the quinoa and the bird seed. The birdseed has nice growth. I thought the quinoa was not doing so well but on reviewing the photo on my big iMac....I can see some baby sprouts....so who knows.
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AllenK RGV

Chicken Addict
Premium member
Jul 23, 2017
3,634
8,942
627
Deep South Texas Laureles,TX 10A
Fodder for me had been so hit or miss the young birds were inclined to believe everything I took to the run was food and took to it easily. My older gals just looked at me like I was a crackhead. They didn't take to my sprouts until they felt the competition for resources as I now let them all free range together.
 

RebelChief

Songster
5 Years
Mar 7, 2014
214
637
186
Brownsville, TX
Fodder for me had been so hit or miss the young birds were inclined to believe everything I took to the run was food and took to it easily. My older gals just looked at me like I was a crackhead. They didn't take to my sprouts until they felt the competition for resources as I now let them all free range together.
I am hoping they like it. Today I pulled some little sprouts from my flower bed that had come up under where I had a bird feeder until the raccoon decided to destroy it. Trying to get them used to it. Since they are on sand and I'm not sure about free ranging here it might be the only green they get until I get a little tractor built to let them spend the day in. My front yard is about the size of two football fields...plenty of green but it would be open season since there's no cover.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,572
5,209
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
My first thoughts on my fodder rack. Gatus please let me know how to tweak this.

1. The top bucket for water I put holes all over the bottom. Should I have only put holes in one end and slanted it like the others? The first fodder pan gets a bit of a harsh rain shower.
First of all, thanks for all the great pictures.

It looks like you are having some great success with your project. So it's just a matter of fine tuning some things, I think. All my fodder bins only have holes on one end. If your top bin is to be like a "rain" bin, then you would be better off having that top bin laying flat and using small holes for the water.

2. I think maybe my slants might be a bit too aggressive and the water might be flowing too fast. Will it slow a bit as the root system develops?
From your pictures, it looks like your slant might be too aggressive. I made my slants one inch lower on the drain side, which works fine. But I think I also stated that it probably only needs about 1/2 inch drop. But yes, if your slant is too aggressive it will drain too fast and the seeds in the lower bin will all wash down to the lower side. After the seeds sprout and develop a root mass, it will not matter as much. If you can, I would suggest backing off that slant and maybe trying a 1 inch front-to-back drop which has worked fine for me.

I'm starting my seeds for now in a large ball canning jar with screen on top.
When I first started soaking my seeds, I put them into a separate bucket and transferred them to a bin for the tower after soaking. I quickly found it more efficient for me to just soak the seeds in a fodder bin to begin with. I put seeds in a fodder bin with holes into a bin without holes. Then I put those 2 bins on the bottom rack of my tower system. When I water the tower, the water eventually all collects in the that bottom 2 bins and starts my new soak cycle. After my soaking time, I simply remove the fodder bin from the collection bin and put the soaked seeds on the rack. No more need to soak seeds separately and transfer them to a fodder bin that way. OK, it does not really save much time, but I find it more efficient and it takes up less space for the whole project.

So the first seeds I tried out were a mixed wild bird seed that had all the usual stuff in it including black oil sunflower seed and the other jar was quinoa (I just happened to have some laying around). The birdseed seems to be growing nicely. After the soak and sprouting time I moved them to the first grow level.

Today I added the second soak and sprout group which is Wheat berries and Barley. They both have a good sprout. I checked the quinoa and the bird seed. The birdseed has nice growth. I thought the quinoa was not doing so well but on reviewing the photo on my big iMac....I can see some baby sprouts....so who knows.
One thing I learned from sprouting seeds for my human consumption (fresh greens for salads), is that bigger seeds need longer soaking times, which also means that smaller seeds need less time soaking (in general). I would be interested in knowing what soak tmes work best for your mixed bird seed.

If that mixed bird seed is like what we have here, then it is a mix of very small seeds up to larger sunflower seeds. Whenever I try to sprout/grow fodder from new seeds, I just try 3 different soaking times. In my case, I usually go with a 2 hour soak, a 12 hour soak, and a 24 hour soak. With barley, I found the 12 hour soak provided the best yield, then a 2 hour soak was OK, but the 24 hour soaking was not good at all and maybe the seeds got drowned? I don't know. I just looked at the results and settled on what worked best for me - the 12 hour soak.

I hope some of those suggestions will help. Looks like you have the idea and maybe some fine turning will help improve your project. I am always looking for ways to improve my existing system and am very glad when other people give me feedback. Thank you.
 
Last edited:

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,572
5,209
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
I just noticed mold on the bird seed. Do I need to toss it? I didn't add bleach when I soaked....lesson learned :(
I do not toss seed if it has a little mold on it. I would pick it off the spot and compost it, and continue on with growing the fodder in the bin. If your whole bin was moldy, I'd dump it in the compost pile and make a written note, or mental note, of why mold started growing and what to do to prevent it.

Some people recommend putting a cap full of bleach into the initial soaking water. These seeds have natural mold on them, and that may depend on where/when the seeds were bagged. I never had a big problem with mold in my tower system, but I suppose it could depend on the temperature/humidity where you grow your fodder.

Although it was not necessary, I did end up buying a jug of bleach at the Dollar Tree and have started adding a small cap full to my initial soaking here inside the house. In general, my house is cooler than my garage was this past summer, so my seeds are not drying out as much between the 12 hour flood and drain sessions. So I was concerned that mold could start to grow. Every day or so I will also add a capful of bleach to my top "rain" bin with water and just let that trickle down to all the other bins below. I have not had any problems with mold in the fodder bins growing inside the house with just a bit of preventative bleach in the water.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,572
5,209
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Fodder for me had been so hit or miss the young birds were inclined to believe everything I took to the run was food and took to it easily. My older gals just looked at me like I was a crackhead. They didn't take to my sprouts until they felt the competition for resources as I now let them all free range together.
This summer, my girls preferred green grass that they were used to eating over my homegrown barley fodder. But here in Minnesota, we have to do without any fresh grass for about 5-6 months of the year. With winter well on the way, my girls tear into the barley fodder I feed to them every day. It's the only fresh greens they get during the winter. Everything gets eaten from the tip of the blade down to and including the root mat. Nothing goes to waste, and I consider growing the barley fodder a good invest on my time (1 lb of seed into 5+ lbs of fodder).

I don't let my chickens free range due to hawk and eagle concerns, but even so, here in Minnesota, they would be hard pressed to find much good stuff to eat under a foot of snow.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,572
5,209
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
My front yard is about the size of two football fields...plenty of green but it would be open season since there's no cover.
Where I live, people who let their chickens free range are called former chicken owners. We have too many hawks and eagles looking for an easy meal.

Whenever I add, or change, anything to my chickens feed, I try to introduce it slowly. Like transitioning the chicks from starter feed to grower feed, and later from grower feed to laying feed. I have found it best to mix the new feed in with the older feed for a number of days to a week.

This past summer, I introduced my barley fodder to the chickens when they were still eating grass clippings. They seemed to prefer the fresh grass clippings, which they were used to, but they did eat up all the fodder too. So I knew fodder would work for my chickens this winter. And it does. Now when I give them fodder in the morning, there is nothing left of it in a few hours. Success in my book. I'm sure they would prefer to be out on fresh green grass and pecking and scratching for their food - but that's not an option in a Minnesota winter.
 

RebelChief

Songster
5 Years
Mar 7, 2014
214
637
186
Brownsville, TX
First of all, thanks for all the great pictures.

It looks like you are having some great success with your project. So it's just a matter of fine tuning some things, I think. All my fodder bins only have holes on one end. If your top bin is to be like a "rain" bin, then you would be better off having that top bin laying flat and using small holes for the water.

The top bin is flat and has multiple holes, small ones that rain down on the first bin.

From your pictures, it looks like your slant might be too aggressive. I made my slants one inch lower on the drain side, which works fine. But I think I also stated that it probably only needs about 1/2 inch drop. But yes, if your slant is too aggressive it will drain too fast and the seeds in the lower bin will all wash down to the lower side. After the seeds sprout and develop a root mass, it will not matter as much. If you can, I would suggest backing off that slant and maybe trying a 1 inch front-to-back drop which has worked fine for me.

Luckily I used screws so I can easily fix that.

When I first started soaking my seeds, I put them into a separate bucket and transferred them to a bin for the tower after soaking. I quickly found it more efficient for me to just soak the seeds in a fodder bin to begin with. I put seeds in a fodder bin with holes into a bin without holes. Then I put those 2 bins on the bottom rack of my tower system. When I water the tower, the water eventually all collects in the that bottom 2 bins and starts my new soak cycle. After my soaking time, I simply remove the fodder bin from the collection bin and put the soaked seeds on the rack. No more need to soak seeds separately and transfer them to a fodder bin that way. OK, it does not really save much time, but I find it more efficient and it takes up less space for the whole project.

I think I will do this with with the next batch. I bought a case of the bins so I have a few extra. I've found all sorts of uses for them in the kitchen and my craftroom.

One thing I learned from sprouting seeds for my human consumption (fresh greens for salads), is that bigger seeds need longer soaking times, which also means that smaller seeds need less time soaking (in general). I would be interested in knowing what soak tmes work best for your mixed bird seed.

I went with the 12 hour soak on everything. I think the quinoa needed less. I did 12 on the second batch as well.

If that mixed bird seed is like what we have here, then it is a mix of very small seeds up to larger sunflower seeds. Whenever I try to sprout/grow fodder from new seeds, I just try 3 different soaking times. In my case, I usually go with a 2 hour soak, a 12 hour soak, and a 24 hour soak. With barley, I found the 12 hour soak provided the best yield, then a 2 hour soak was OK, but the 24 hour soaking was not good at all and maybe the seeds got drowned? I don't know. I just looked at the results and settled on what worked best for me - the 12 hour soak.

I hope some of those suggestions will help. Looks like you have the idea and maybe some fine turning will help improve your project. I am always looking for ways to improve my existing system and am very glad when other people give me feedback. Thank you.

Always room for improvement! Glad to have you experience people to learn from.
 
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