Growing Sprouts for Poultry and Livestock

Save money on animal feed by growing sprouts for poultry and livestock.

| July/August 2015

Chances are, if you have poultry or other livestock, you’ve considered ways to decrease your feed bill, increase animal nutrition, and become more self-sufficient in the process. A typical fall or winter trip to the feed store is all it takes to get the wheels turning. Numerous droughts in recent years may have further greased the gears.

Freshly sprouted fodder might be just what you are looking for, especially if you live in a cold or dry climate and cannot pasture your animals year-round, or if you don’t have extensive pasture space. While sprouted fodder won’t replace 100 percent of your animals’ diet, it can become a valuable source of inexpensive nutrition for your herd or flock.

Back to the Roots

Even though you may have just recently heard about fodder, sprouting seeds for livestock is not a new idea. References to sprouting small grains for livestock can be found dating back 400 years. It seems natural that feeding livestock has always spurred our innate curiosity to improve feed values and efficiencies along with quality of life in the animals we tend. I collect old livestock husbandry books, and there are many references to soaking, sprouting  and cooking grain within their pages, including observations on the nutritional value of the various processes.

Perhaps you have never heard of sprouted fodder and are wondering what it is. Sprouted fodder is simply grain that has been allowed to germinate and grow until right before it starts showing its second set of leaves, at about seven to 10 days after sprouting. The entire sprouted mat is fed to livestock: shoots, roots and grain. It is very similar to the microgreens that are so popular in modern cuisine. Barley is the most common grain found in sprouted fodder systems, but other grains and seeds can be used.

Why Sprouts?

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