Novice Fodder Grower Seeks Advice

Reader Contribution by Erin Baldwin
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I first heard about fodder systems on a homesteading podcast last summer and couldn’t wait to try it. A year later, I’m making my first attempt at it.

Fodder systems convert grains and seeds into living fodder that can then be feed to animals to improve their food quality and help cut feed costs. Folks use a variety of feed grains, but in my research I have found that most people have the best luck with barley.

Fodder systems can be pretty expensive, but if you do a bit of digging around online you will find tons of information on do-it-yourself systems that can fit the needs of smaller homesteads.

Fodder is so appealing to me as a way to provide fresh microgreens to our diary goats, which currently don’t have access to pasture. Providing fodder will enrich their diets and make for healthier goats that product higher quality milk. It also will allow us to stretch our buck a little further, potentially turning what we pay for 50 pounds of feed barley into 300 pounds of fresh barley fodder.

So for my first attempt, I decided to go through the whole process with just one tray. Here’s what I did.

Soak Day: I put 1 pound of feed grain barley into a bucket to soak overnight (for about 12 hours). The grain we purchased was pretty dusty, so I gave it a rinse prior to soaking.

Day 1: In the morning, I strained the barley and gave it another rinse. I then spread it out about a half-inch thick into a black plastic seed tray with small holes punched in one end for drainage.

Day 1 Evening through Day 6: I simply rinsed the barley in the morning and in the evening, and sometimes mid-day depending on my schedule to keep the seeds moist.

Day 7: Harvested the mat.

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have the super thick grass and root mat that I have seen others rolling up like carpet at the end of Day Six or Seven. Nonetheless, the whole process was pretty neat, and both our goats and chickens were pretty fond of the end results.

I’m ready to give it another try, and I’m hoping to reach out for some tips from the expert fodder growers out there. What types of things do you do to make your sprouting successful?

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