If you've been wondering what you can give to your chickens as healthy treats this winter when they can't get out to forage, and produce isn't plentiful why not sprout some seeds or beans for them? It's inexpensive, easy and gives them much-needed nutrition when they can't forage for grass and weeds.
You can sprout all kinds of things: clover, alfalfa, mung beans, radish, mustard, grains, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Check your local health food store or online for organic beans and seeds for sprouting.
I recently sprouted some mung beans for our chickens. Here's what I did:
Pint or quart canning jar with lid
1 rounded Tablespoon of mung beans (or other beans, seeds or grasses)
Small piece of rubber shelf liner
Cut the shelf liner to fit inside the ring part of the jar. This allows air to circulate inside the jar. You can buy pre-made sprouting lids, but this way is easy and inexpensive and works just as well.
Pour one rounded Tablespoon of beans into the jar and cover with cool tap water. Let soak for about 8 hours and then drain the water. Refill the jar and swirl the beans to rinse them well and then drain again. Hold the jar upside down and shake a few time to be sure all the water has drained out. (Alternatively, you can set the jar upside down in a bowl at an angle until all the water has drained)
Set the jar on the counter in a spot with low light and continue to rinse and drain twice a day for several days. All you are doing is keeping the beans moist. You should soon see sprouts starting.
Once your beans have cracked open and begun to sprout, move the jar to a sunny location, but not in direct sunlight, to allow the sprouts to green up a bit. Continue to rinse and drain twice daily until the sprouts are done. In about 5 days, leaves will begin to grow and your sprouts are ready to feed to your chickens!
Easy right? And your chickens and ducks will love them. I keep a five jars going in rotation all the time over the winter for frequent treats for our girls.