Sprouting Barley

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SuperK, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    We are at day 7 in our quest to decrease our chickens feed bill; this attempt by sprouting barley. I read that by sprouting the feed you can get a 5:1 increase in feedstock, thereby decreasing the overall cost of daily feed. We are shooting for 30% Commercial feed, 30% Fruits/grasses and 40% Sprouted fodder. The kind of seed we decided on was easy- there are only two types readily available here: Barley and Wheat. I can get just about any seed, but shipping can take up to 6 weeks if they add my order to a bulk load coming over from the mainland. This barley is field run, un-GMO free certified , non-organic or just a plain old bag of seeds and it still is 20$ for a 50 pound bag. But with a 5:1 increase in feed stock, this brings the price down to a reasonable level from .40 cents a pound to about .08 cents a pound.

    Feed Rations by type.png

    We got going by buying a 5 shelf wire rack, black plastic growing trays from the local Garden Exchange with drain holes pre-punched, pump for circulating the water and a timer to set the pump times and of course; Barley seed. We have some tweaking to do on the system- the catch tub with the pump is too narrow and some of the rinse water falls to the left and right of the tub. The pressure isn't strong enough to use the spray feature of the emitters we have in the tubing, so we'll be changing the outflow port for more soon. The timer we purchased has a 4 set cycles capability with 20 simultaneous programmed memory. We need the pump to activate for about 4-5 minutes, every 3 hours during the day. When I get this figured out, this timer should do well.
    Sprouting Grain (1) - Copy (600x800).jpg
    This is the 5 shelf rack we got at the local big box store. The wire shelves allow for drainage and the paint resists rust. Out here, if it's metal, it will rust. How long we can put that off depends on paint, powdercoats, oiling etc. But they will rust. I plan on adding a set of accessory shelves to these and narrow them to get more trays- if we bump up the percentage of fodder to double or 80% of their rations, we can decrease the commercial feed accordingly. Sprouting Grain (4) - Copy (800x600).jpg This photo is the various stages of the sprouting. The raisin looking things in the second shelf, first tray is lava cinder. I dropped the tray and tried to separate it best I could. Better I guess to heave the lot when this happens, but as it takes a 24 hour soak for the seeds prior to traying them, it would put a space in the feeding routine. Since this was a first weeks worth, I tried saving it- but next time, I'll just double up on the seed in the next soak and spread two trays to "catch up" in the cycle.
    Sprouting Grain (3) - Copy (800x600).jpg
    This photo is showing the distribution tubing and emitters zip tied into place. This will change as the need for the shelf presents itself. They drip fine, they just don't spray like they are supposed to. The pump is supposed to put out 500 GPH, plenty for a spray but I have the tubing plugged into the accessory port rather than the 'fountain' port where most of the pressure diverts to. Sprouting Grain (2) - Copy (800x600).jpg This photo shows the tub and pump, though the hazy rinse water keeps you from seeing the pump itself. The haze is from the dirt, dust and barley fines that happen in shipping and is half carbohydrate half dirt. The first rinse and soak water is discarded. This is just the watering cycle and comes from the water in the first trays dripping down to the second shelf, to the third, etc, until it gets back to the sump. If this water is not changed every three days, it starts to ferment and smell. As it is, the moist barley attracts the fruit flies that attract the geckos, that attract the birds that forget about the geckos because of all the seed! A minor problem overall if the cost savings play out as suggested on the internet sites touting this method.
    I will update as I go along- I like saving money and I'll share what I learn.
     
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  2. KikisGirls

    KikisGirls Please read more Premium Member Project Manager

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  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Just looking at it now. My opinion not asked for, but I'm gonna kick it out there, just b/c that's what I do. Good set up. Nice that you can do it outside. OP, please forgive! While you will see some savings in your feed bill, don't count on the 5:1 ratio meaning that you will realize a 5 fold increase in food value. You will realize a bit of increase at the sprout stage b/c of the anti nutrients being broken down, and the enzyme action actually increasing the food value. Photosynthesis also kicks in a bit of increase. However, as the sprouts start to near the fodder stage, they have exhausted the nutrients of the seeds. This is where if they were planted in soil, they would have an established root system, and kick into high gear from the extra benefit provided by the soil and it's microbes. IMO, sprouting provides the greatest benefit at the sprout stage, and fodder, while it produces increased fiber, does not provide increased nutrition. In my own feeding situation, I still depend on FF to provide most of my bird's nutrition. The sprouts make up for the lack of free range.
     
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  4. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Love the feedback. I can't make changes good for my birds unless I know of a change that may need to be made, right? Though I have raised chickens in the past, I was young then and things change over that many years. I consider myself as a newbie and I have much to learn.
    I have made some changes to the pump- I went from a 1/2" tubing to a 3/4" in hopes of getting a bit more pressure at the sprayers, but nope. Still the same. I believe that I am at the height limit for head lift for that particular pump.
    Beckett Pnod Pump 400.jpg This is what comes with the Beckett 400 GPH. Max lift is stated to be 78 inches, but it barely makes to that distance. No more than a dribble at 6'6". Even at 5' the pressure isn't enough to spray, just dribble. Still, that's all I really need, I don't want the seeds too disturbed when wetting them.
    I finally got the timer figured out, there are 4 setting for on and off- The one that works seems counter to the "On at xx:xx then Off at xx:xx" idea. But it's coming on at the time I set, and staying on for the time period. I like that it handles all the on/off cycles I need so I'll make it work outside even if I need to wrap it in saran wrap. The timer is the
    Defiant 15 amp 7 day plug in 1 single outlet digital timer, Item #548-148 At Home Depot. Chicken timer.jpg
    The next change I am making is to supplement the Barley with BOSS. I just got a some BOSS on sale at our local ACE (9.99 for 20 pounds). I do not know the germination rate of this product yet so I will do some tests and see. Either way I think that sprouted or no, the BOSS will be a great addition to the feed for the girls.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    BOSS is fairly high in fat, don't know how sprouting changes that, or if it even does. My plan is to sprout a combination of Barley and BOSS, perhaps add some millet. It's been a while since I've sprouted, so I'd have to run a sprouting trial to see how long it takes each seed to reach the desired feed out stage. Also, if you are living in winter wonder land, you might consider the need to supply grit during the winter. You can either sprout them together, perhaps doing a pre-soak/head start for the slower maturing seed, then add the slower one at the appropriate time... or you can simply sprout them separately.
     
  6. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    LOL Lazy Gardner- Thank you for the suggestions on the separate timing. I do live in a mostly Winter-free area being in planting zone 11.We did get snow at the top of the volcano last Christmas though. The Big Island of Hawaii is ALL grit- the lava / cinder we live on is microscopic to boulders that are car sized, so no problem finding enough for the girls. Half the island does have dirt, but not my side. Most of the landscape plants growing here root into the rock or travel over rock till it gets to pockets of cinder or the little dirt we do have. The North end of the Island has some rich deposits of real 'run-your-fingers through the dirt kind of soil. All the years of growing sugar cane on the hillsides did that.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Wow. I'd not paid attention to your location! Awesome! Trade you some snow for some sand and surf!
     
  8. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    :)LOL, I get a lot of that but Paradise does have its darker side. We live on the wet side of the island (100-300 inches / year) so it's lush jungle wherever someone has stopped hacking it back and it's a magnificent 85 degrees with 90% Humidity. Everyday. Whether it's January, June, August, December, it's going to be 85 degrees at my altitude. I love it here, but the biggest drawback to living on an Island 3000 miles from anywhere is that we have to ship everything we need in from the mainland, the Asia or from Japan. For example, the barley I stared this sprouting project with cost me 19.75 for a 50 pound sack. I can order a pallet of it to save a bit by buying in bulk, but the pallet will come by boat, not by truck. There are two boats from the US mainland- one takes 3 weeks, the 'fast' boat, and the other that takes 6 weeks, aka the 'slow' boat. The added cost of a bag of seed? $9.75 per bag! I can get it through Lakeland Feed for $9.49 per bag, but they don't ship to Hawaii at all. Heck, even Amazon Prime doesn't ship here in all cases!
    It's frustrating to be sure, but I love it here. BYC members are welcome here, so if you ever get to the big island, look us up!
     
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  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Is that 19.75 your total price for barley? I paid $22 for a bag last week.
     
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  10. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes, field grade, NOT organic, NOT sure if it's gmo free. So i guess the price isn't as bad as I thought. thanks!
     
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