Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Start Of The Sprouts

I decided to started doing barley fodder for my animals, so that I could minimize on my feed cost, also as a top up, fresh and natural winter feed and the fact that its such a quick turn over process, from start to end it takes 8 days, is brilliant.
Especially for those who battle with grazing in the winter and have to bring in hay. This system can be a low cost and a dependable source of feed that is a nutritional supplementation for all grazing animals. You can supply a great source of nutrition to a wide range of animals (horses, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, Alpaca)

This is my adventure and experiences on growing my own fodder.

How I make my sprouts:

First of all I soak the barley seeds in water and a tablespoon of Jik (helps prevent bacteria and mould growing) overnight.

I then transfer them into a tray which has holes along the one side.

I then put them in my homemade "sprouter". My homemade sprouter is basically two planks, one bigger than the other, to give a down hill water run, (see below pic) then the next shelf will be the same, but the smaller plank under the first shelf's fat plank and the fat plank under the first shelf's thin plank. To give a zigzag motion as the water runs down. I pour water on the top shelf and watch the water zigzag all the way down to the gutter under my contraption which leads to a bucket. That waters my vegetable garden.

I water them no less than 3 times a day, (I plan on putting a irrigation system in with a timer at a later stage)
In 7-9 days you will have sprouted barley ready for feeding.

Your root should be white and smell pleasant,  there should be no fluffy white stuff, maggots, blue-green marks or black fungi on the barley. If so do not feed it to your animals. 
The green grass should be healthy looking and you should get a good mat of white roots.

The below picture shows the growth of the barley by day. 
It's actually 8 days if you include the over night soak.

You should get 500gr of dry barley seeds to 5kg of barley sprouts. Give or take!

I feed my animals a half and half mixture of grain and barley fodder. Just as a supplement and a substitute.
It took one to two feeds for my horses to think that the barley fodder was delicious. They would always eat it last, now I see them grabbing chunks of barley as I give them their feed.
My pigs thought it was Christmas, there was no persuading them. They just climbed in.
The chickens love it, they come running from the other side of their run to come scratch and peck at the delicious green mat.

I have started to grow a little patch of barley in my vegetable garden, in hope to harvest the seeds and to sprout them for my livestock. If its a success then I will plant more barley at a larger scale.
 Growing your own Barley fodder uses less water than growing your own good quality hay

Natural Feed = Natural Digestion

Green leaves = live enzymes - All grazing animals rely on bacteria and enzymes in the gut to aid digestion. The horse for example is designed to extract up to 30% of its nutrition from the ceacum (hind gut), and with dead feeds they aren’t getting the beneficial enzymes and microbes that fresh fodder can provide. Feeding fresh green fodder will mean your horse will get the maximum from it’s feed, and none of it is wasted.
Amino Acid proteins - The sprouting grain converts its existing protein into Amino Acid proteins in the green leaves. These are the best form of protein as they are building blocks for larger proteins. They are used for building muscle tissue, and provide your horse with slow release energy. These are the factors that improve condition, work rates and recovery rates.
Essential fatty acids - Barley fodder is packed with essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. Studies have shown that a good supply of these compounds helps relieve arthritis, asthma, eczema, inflammation after exercise and ulcerative colitis, whilst also improving recovery rates, immune system, hormone balance, bone density and efficiency of oxygen transfer from red blood cells to tissues.
Hydration - When taken from the system the feed is wet and the biscuit itself contains up to 80% moisture. Amongst other things this provides excellent hydration, which helps to flush toxins from the system improving recovery rates and blood flow.
Sprouts can have an alkalising effect on the body and help to neutralise acidic waste, helping to develop a stronger immune system and quicker healing. Horses assimilate and use nutrition and oxygen more effectively when their rumen and cells have an alkaline balance.
Chlorophyll is excellent for blood cleansing and renewal, as well as helping to detoxify the body. It has a regenerative effect on the lungs, glands, vascular system and lymphatic system.
Fresh fodder biscuits provide a simulated grazing process for your horse, which is much more suited to their digestive system than several bulk feeds of concentrated nutrition per day.

Vitamin and Mineral benefits

Vitamin A
~ Excellent for disease resistance
~ Skin & coat condition
~ Nervous system function

Vitamin E
~ Immune system competence & disease resistance
~ Heart, skeletal & respiratory muscle function
~ Oxygen utilisation
~ Possible role with Selenium preventing muscle tie-up syndrome
~ Nervous system function
Vitamin C
~ Possible link to blood capillary strength and fragility

Recommended Feeding Guideline:

• Horse: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; 1.5% body weight in dry hay

• Beef Cow: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

• Dairy Cow: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

• Sheep: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

• Goat: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

• Dairy Goat: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

• Alpaca: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

• Pig: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder

• Rabbit: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration for roughage

• Chicken: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; grit and calcium supplements

Please watch your animals weight and health when changing their diet.


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  1. That was smart of you. We just took a tour of a farm last week, and the cost of feed is no small thing.

    Thank you for linking to Super Sunday Sync. I am your latest blog follower.

  2. Very cool - thanks for the info.

    Now, not having a hydroponic system, I must just work out how to grow some for our Alpaca's... :)

  3. I have been hearing more about this!