Growing Fodder For Livestock- Easy DIY Instructions

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rabbit-eating-fodder

Have you ever tried to grow your own livestock feed? Growing fodder is very easy to do with our step-by-step instructions. High in nutrition, fodder can be grown just about anywhere which makes it the perfect livestock supplement. 

We are striving to live a self-sufficient life by growing and raising much of our own food. Where I have felt the gap in our sustainability is in growing and producing our own livestock feed. We live in a very mountainous area and have little pasture to offer. During the recent food shortage and focusing on rationing food so we don’t run out, I realized we could store very limited amounts of livestock feed. It was then I looked into growing fodder. Fortunately, a friend in my Homesteading Facebook Group, Steve D shared pictures of the fodder he grows for his rabbits and chickens and told me how easy it was to grow. 

Growing Fodder For Livestock- Easy DIY Instructions

In addition to growing fodder, we also raise live Mealworms for our poultry. Mealworms are another animal feed source you can raise no matter how much space you have and they provide a great source of nutrition and protein. Yes, humans can eat them too! Fortunately, fodder is more palatable for us two-legged kind and just as easy, if not more so, to produce. 

Growing fodder is cheaper than commercial feed and helps cut down on feed cost. Obviously, we all love saving money, am I right? Besides saving money from going to the feed store, sprouting grains for fodder is healthy for your livestock. Sprouted fodder is more easily digestible for your livestock and contains essential nutrients and vitamins. 

What Animals Eat Fodder? 

Wanting to know what animals will enjoy homegrown fodder? Any animals that eat hay or grain will enjoy eating fodder. Depending on what type of fodder you are growing, fodder can make a healthy treat for humans as well. For years I have ordered a wheatgrass smoothie from health food stores, little did I know, growing my own fodder would be so easy!

ducks, chickens, rabbits, and more all love fodder

Livestock that will love fresh fodder, but is not limited to

  • Alpacas
  • Chickens
  • Cows
  • Ducks
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Lamas
  • Pigs
  • Sheep
  • Rabbits

To demonstrate the savings of growing your own fodder, a 50 lb bag of chicken feed from the feed store cost me around $14.00.  Sixty pounds of seed cost me $9.00 and can yield up to 600 lbs of fodder! The math alone was enough to convince me to start growing my own. We feed our ducks, chickens, rabbits, and our goats’ fodder. 

Instructions

I used a bunch of different kinds when I first started, such as sunflower seeds, different bird seeds, etc. The best luck I had was with wheatgrass seed, the second best was barley seeds. Often I mix them together for a nice combination. Wheat grows a great root mat (the white root system at the bottom). Barley roots aren’t as big but the blade of the grass is bigger than the wheat. The critters like them both. You can play around with different combinations to find what works best for you and your livestock. 
 
wheat grass seeds for growing fodder
 

Seeds for Fodder

  • Alfalfa
  • Barley
  • buckwheat
  • Clover
  • Field Peas
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Sunflower Seeds also called BOSS (Blacked Oiled Sunflower Seeds)
  • and more
If I could only choose one it would be wheat. It’s easy to grow and buy where I live. You can check your local grain mill to see if they carry fodder seeds. You will save money by purchasing from a grain mill vs buying online. 

How to Grow Hydroponic Fodder At Home

Hydroponic means to grow plants without soil. Since we all have access to water, growing your own hydroponic fodder is the easiest way to provide pasture for your livestock without land. You can also grow fodder all year long so your livestock can have access to fresh fodder no matter what the weather is like.

In addition to growing sprouted seeds for fodder with hydroponics, you can also grow food without soil with Aquaponics. I interviewed a friend who developed the barrel aquaponics system and they are able to produce a ton of food without soil. 

soak your fodder seeds for 24 hrs in a mason jar

 

Fodder Directions

    1. To start, fill a wide mouth quart mason jar half full of dry seed. 
    2. Add water until it’s an inch or so above the seeds and stir It around. 
    3. Place a screen lid on top of the mason jar and let it soak for 24 hours.
    4. After 24 hours, drain the water
    5. Rinse and drain the seeds. 
    6. Turn the jar upside down and pound on the side a couple of times.
    7. The air pockets stop the bottom from getting compacted. It helps the seed sprout evenly. Otherwise, you’d have lots of sprouts in the top half and little in the bottom.
    8. Fill the jar with water and try to gently work the sprouted seeds out. 
    9. Pour the seeds in your fodder tray
    10. Add water in the tray and smooth the seeds out so they cover the bottom of the tray evenly.
    11. Do this over a sink so the water can drain
    12. Let them sit for a bit and then tip them so the water drains out the back corner.
    13. Place the trays in the plastic drawer that they came with and sit it in a window.
    14. If your plastic trays did not come in a bin, cover with plastic wrap and place in a window. 

fodder starting to sprout

  1. Rinse and drain them twice a day, once in the morning and later at night time. At night they can sit in the kitchen sink and drain and be ready for their morning soak.

  2.  

    rinsing-fodder

Preventing Mold In Fodder

The most common complaint when growing fodder is mold issues. Mold can occur due to a variety of reasons such as bad or moldy seed, it was kept too wet, or too much seed added to the fodder tray. 

Here are some tried and true tips to prevent mold issues when growing fodder. 

  • Rinse the fodder real good with the kitchen sink sprayer and blasts any mold away. In 7 days you can have wonderful fodder that your critters will love. 
  • Add apple cider vinegar to the water when soaking your grains. 
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water and spray on the plants daily. 
  • On the initial soak to your seeds, add a splash of hydrogen peroxide. Let it soak in the peroxide water for about 6-8 hours, then rinse.
  • Keep good circulation around your fodder. 
  • Only spread a single layer of seeds in your fodder tray. Overcrowing promotes mold. 
  • If you get mold on your fodder after your grains have sprouted, add peroxide to your water and let it soak in your tray before draining. 

Growing Fodder-Trouble Shooting Tips

  • When soaking your fodder seeds, you’ll see stuff floating on top, pour this off.  The less gunk in the seed, I believe, gives you less trouble with mold.
  • If you dump the seeds in the tray too early it slows the process down by a day or two. If you dump them too late they are a bear to get out of the jar.
  • Screen mason Jar tops make draining the seeds easy during the soaking process.
  • I like to give my fodder seeds a head start by keeping them in a mason jar until they get a decent start on roots. Usually for about 2 days.
  • Sometimes if I wait too long (a couple of days) to add my fodder seeds to the tray, I have to use a spoon to get them out.
  • Try not to let older fodder drain into new fodder.
  • Start a new batch every couple of days so you’re in constant supply and never run out. 

How Much Fodder To Feed? 

You can grow fodder as a snack or as a regular staple to your animals’ diet. I feed three rabbits and 8 chickens, one batch is a 3 day supply, I use it as a supplement, not all their feed. When feeding fodder, our rabbits get about a 3×3 square and the chickens share a 3x 6 square.

One recommendation to give an animal 1/100th of its body weight in fodder. Other recommendations I’ve seen are 2% of the animal’s body weight in fodder per day. I honestly don’t believe your animals will overeat on fodder, especially if they have a well-rounded diet. Everything in moderation. 
 

What Seeds Do You Grow?

Do you have an amazing combination of seeds that you grow for fodder? We would love to try your recipe for our livestock. 

 

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