Why do we need another chicken blog or forum?

Many chicken forums are moderated to sell commercial feed, chemicals and ideology.
I prefer to find my own balance between nature, welfare and cost in raising happy chickens.

Friday, November 18, 2011

easy peasy sprouting for chickens

Sprouting is easy!

All you need are a very large bucket (20 L for instance), a circular piece of shadecloth about 80cm in diameter, about 10 narrow cable ties, some whipper snipper cord or thin rope, and a hook for hanging.

One way to make a hangable bag is to take the circular shadecloth and insert a cable tie every so often until they go right around the circle, evenly spaced. Leave a good inch or more between where you insert the tie and the shadecloth edge. Only do up each cable tie enough to form a generous hoop. If you insert whipper snipper cord or rope through the cable ties you have an instant drawstring bag, which you can hang or close over the bucket during draining.

Another way is to simply insert whipper snipper cord through the circular shadecloth near the edges, knotting it just tight enough to allow it to open over the bucket (for up-ending). When hung from hooks the drawstring naturally pulls tight:

The process is quite simple. First the grains are soaked for 24 hours, at a ratio of a quarter-bucket of grains to three-quarters water. If you try to increase the grain-to-water ratio you may see some fermentation on a warm day (which you don't want).

Secondly after 24 hours' soaking you want to drain the grains into your shadecloth bag. You can either tip them onto the outspread shadecloth or gather the shadecloth about the bucket top and up-end the whole thing.

Gather the loops over a hook and hang this newly-formed bag. Every day in passing you should give the bag a jostle to make sure the grains are not clumping together (if they do this too much you may get pockets of souring/mould), and you should also give them a rinse by either dunking the bag in water or giving them a good spray with a hose.

You can use the soaked grain on that first day, and every day after that for about 3 or 4 days you can feed the sprouting seeds. By day 4 I find that the sprouts are getting pretty lengthy, so I mostly feed them out by day 3.

Of course, you could always keep two hanging bags at different stages of sprouting, if you want to aim for the maximum nutrition (when sprout tails are about 1cm long). But I seem to get good bird health results feeding anywhere between days 1 and 4.

This is a terrific way to ensure a constant supply of sprouting grains, and do I need to add that sprouting enhances the availability of vitamins to birds, and makes the grains more digestible?

What better way to avoid artificial vitamins in feed? Sprouting rules!


Steve said...

What type of grain do you use Erica?

Erica Bandanna said...

At the moment I'm only sprouting wheat, because (due to having young chicks around) I'm hand-grinding the corn, peas and sunflower.

But as the birds become able to digest whole sprouted corn, corn and pea sprouts will be included too, at about 10% and 5% of the diet respectively.