Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Experiments with Growing Chicken Fodder

In a previous post I told you about building a grazing frame to grow greens inside the chicken run for the chickens to eat.  The frames prevent them from digging up the roots or eating the plants down to the roots so the chickens can 'graze' on the greens throughout the spring and summer months.  Since they will probably not grow well in to the winter months, I have been doing some experimenting with growing fodder so I will be able to keep my chickens in healthy greens throughout the year. 

Two baskets of Fodder in the mini indoor greenhouse.
I have been testing different seeds that I already have around the house to find out which ones sprout the fastest, and with the biggest bang for the chicks buck as far as large, plentiful sprouts go.  First I tested wild rice...not so good.  As you can see here (if you squint your eyes) it takes forever for the rice to sprout and they are very small and tiny.

Wild Rice sprouts after 8 days.

Since I am growing wild bird seed (and pasture grass) in the grazing frame I thought I would test some of the wild bird seed as fodder.  It sprouts pretty fast, here is my test basket after just 2 days.

Wild Bird Seed Sprouts at Day 2

And here it is after 4 days.

Wild Bird Seed Fodder Sprouts Day 4

And here on Day 6.  I went ahead and gave the basket to the chickens.  I went back to check on them in a couple of hours and there was only a few little pieces left in the I would say they liked it.  I wasn't real impressed with the amount of greens that the wild bird seed produced, but in all fairness I didn't use much seed to begin with.

Another thought as to why the wild bird seed did not do so well for basket fodder is that it grows better in dirt.   I'll keep watching its progress in the grazing frame in the chicken run (where I have planted wild bird seed and pasture grass).  I know that in the past I have been able to grow quite exotic looking plants without trying when if falls from the feeder onto the ground below the bird feeders by the patio.

An interesting note, I seemed to get a lot of gnats inside the greenhouse, mostly in the area of the baskets.  Something about it must have attracted the gnats.  I had the greenhouse outside on the patio because I figured using the A/C indoors would have made it too cool around the greenhouse and inhibited the growth of the sprouts.  Being outside probably contributed to the gnats accumulation as well because I did not have any gnats in the greenhouse when it was indoors used for starting my seedlings for the garden earlier this spring.

Since the greenhouse was outdoors and the temps have been in the upper 90's this week, I think it may have negatively impacted the seed growth.   The high temps required me to rinse them about 3 or 4 times a day to keep the sprouts from getting too dry, where normally I think once or twice a day rinses should be enough.   I will experiment more with growing fodder baskets in the fall when the greenhouse will work more effectively in cooler outdoor temps.

Well, I am off to more experimenting with growing fodder.  I'll keep you posted of my findings.

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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