Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Grow Wheat Grass for 17 Chickens for Less than 25 Cents a Day - Instructions

Last year I shared with you one of my fodder growing experiments.  It didn't turn out so well, but I continued to play with several of the factors that made it less then wonderful, such as the kind of seeds I would grow, the trays needed for optimum sprouting and ultimately grass growing, temperature and location of my trays, and finally the rotation schedule that would provide me with the exact amount of feed I would need every day for my hens.

All of my experimentation has helped me develop a master-plan that I would like to share with you.  I've been using this plan successfully for almost a year.  With this method I can grow enough Organic Wheat Grass to feed (as a supplement) to my 17 hens during the times of year when access to fresh grass is not an option...which is most of the year here in ArizonaI can do this for less than 25 cents per day!  This does not include the initial cost of my supplies however.  If you want the same supplies I used, I have included links to purchase these items online, below.

Beautiful Organic Wheat Grass in Various Stages of Growth

Here are the detailed instructions for my super-easy, proven method:

First, I bought Two (2) Victorio Seed Sprouter sets - that gives me a total of 8 round sprouting trays.   I have six trays in my rotation at all times and two trays are cleaned and ready each new day.

Next I bought the big trays I use for days 4 thru 9.  You will need Three (3) Large Trays Without Holes and Six (6) Half-Size Trays With Holes.  I bought an extra couple so I don't have to immediately wash out the tray emptied each day, but it really isn't that much of a chore.  I figured I could use the extras for my garden seedlings.  The reason I don't use these black trays from the beginning is because, until the seeds sprout, they can too easily fall thru the drain holes, and they also sprout better in the round Victorio trays in my opinion.  (Click the title under each image to be taken to the Wheat Grass Kit website to purchase the trays.)

Large Trays WITHOUT Holes

Small (10"x10") Trays WITH Holes
I use Organic Hard Winter Wheat Berries (seeds).  I purchase my seeds through a co-op bulk feed group here in Arizona for about $16 for a 25 pound bag.  If I run out before the next order time I also purchase them in the bulk section of my local natural grocery for $ .99 per pound.  Yes, I could buy it much cheaper at the feed store BUT, it wont be Organic, Non-GMO which is all I will feed my hens.  For less than 25 cents a day I am not concerned about the cost to purchase the best seeds possible.  I have also found through my experimenting that the standard bulk seeds which are not organic do not sprout as well so you are using lots more seeds and getting less growth...where is the savings in that?

Here is my routine:

If you start with Day 1 step (below) each day, by the time you get to the 10th day you will have a 10" x 10" patch of lush green wheat grass to feed your chickens.  Keep it up and you will always have a fresh batch daily from there on out.

1/3 Cup of Organic Hard Wheat Berries (seeds)

DAY 1: (and each morning thereafter)
Each morning you will be starting a new set of round trays.  Put 1/3 cup of wheat seeds in each of 2 round Victorio sprouting trays.  Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water, then allow to drain. The theory is "Flood & Drain".  After I rinse the new seeds thoroughly I put these two trays on the bottom of my existing stack of trays. (Note: when you first start you wont have an existing stack, but by day 2 you will.)

I place the whole stack of trays into the sink and slowly run cold water into the top tray, and allow it to run until all of the trays are full of water.  Then I lay the lid on top -but do not snap it down, if you do it can cause molding because they cannot drain.  While that is draining I rinse out the holding tray (that's the bottom white tray without holes).  Once the water has pretty much drained out of the trays, I put the whole stack (6 trays by day 3 and each day thereafter) on top of the white holding tray and place it on my counter out of my way.

In the evening I will 'flood and drain' all trays again.  The seeds should be rinsed approx every 12 hours, it's not exact, I do it in the morning, then sometime after dinner or before bed.

Six Trays Full, draining.

DAY 2:
Repeat Day 1 using 2 new round trays of seeds.  After thoroughly rinsing the new seeds,  stack all round trays from the day before on top and fill them and rinse all of them by slowly filling the top tray with cold water and allowing the water to drain down thru all trays.  Once drained, rinse the white holding tray then, stack all trays on top, lay the lid on the top tray.

Repeat the evening rinse.

DAY 3:
Repeat day 2.  You should now have 6 round trays with seeds/sprouts stacked up with the oldest sets on top and the newest seeds on bottom.

DAY 4 (and daily after this point):
Dump the two round trays of sprouts on top, into one of the black half-size trays. Gently spread the sprouts evenly over the bottom while running cold water over the sprouts.  Thoroughly rinse (flood & drain) the sprouts and allow most of the water to drain from the tray before placing it into the large tray without holes.  Be sure to rinse the large tray without holes before placing the freshly drained half-sized trays back in it after each flood & drain session - this helps to prevent mold growth.

I keep my big trays on a shelf, under a standard shop light in my laundry room, however they will grow almost as well with a bright window exposure, but they tend to lean towards the window.  Simply rotate their direction at each rinsing if that is a problem.

Repeat Days 1 thru 3 in the round sprouting trays. 

Rinse all trays again twice a day.

DAY 5:
Repeat Day 4. You should now have two half-size trays in one large tray, plus maintaining the 6 round sprouting trays.

DAY 6:
Repeat Day 5. You should now have three half-size trays actively growing, plus maintaining the 6 round sprouting trays.

DAY 7:
Repeat Day 6. You should now have 4 half-size trays actively growing, plus maintaining the 6 round sprouting trays.

DAY 8:
Repeat Day 7. You should now have 5 half-size trays actively growing, plus maintaining the 6 round sprouting trays.

DAY 9:
Repeat Day 8. Today you should have 6 half-size trays actively growing in various stages as seen in the picture below, plus maintaining the 6 round sprouting trays.

Grass in Various Stages of Growth

DAY 10:
Gently pull the roots up out of the drain holes in your tallest grassed half-sized growing tray and drop the whole block in the chicken pen.  If you want to split it among your birds you can gently pull it in half, but it isn't necessary, they tear it apart pretty well themselves.  Wash this tray out (or use a clean tray) to repeat starting from Day 4.

You now have all trays full and each new morning you will have a fresh block of Organic Wheat Grass for your chickens!  You can 'mow' this grass and use it to make your own healthy green smoothies too!

Just keep it going and you will never run out.

Keeper of 1 husband, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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This post was included in the HomeAcre Hop at Pint a Size Farm where I am entry #83, and in the From the Farm Blog Hop where I am entry #104..


1 comment:

  1. This is do great! I only have 5 little ones, but I'll have to try something similar. Do you only do wheat grass or do you mix it up sometimes?


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