After acquring the rabbits back in March, we were feeding them rabbits pellet food instead of fodder. We would buy them an 8 pound bag of food that cost around $8.00 every 2 weeks. We then found a local feed store that sold 50 pound bags of food for the cost of 19.99. We had gone through about 1/2 a bag when we decided that we wanted to try our hand at growing fodder. The price of feeding the rabbits was starting to get expensive.
We had heard of people feeding sprouted grains to chickens and rabbits. We did some research and thought we would give growing fodder a try. Fodder is feed such as coarse hay or straw, which is given to animals and livestock. It is made from seeds such as barley, Lucerne or oats.
To get started growing our own fodder we bought the following:
- 6 cheap dish pans from the dollar store
- 50 lb bag of barley from local feed supply store
Step 1: We put 2 scoops of barley into the dish pan with no holes. We add enough water to the pan to cover the seeds. Allow the seeds to soak for overnight. A shorter soak time may result in fewer seeds germinating.
Step 2: The next day after the seeds have soaked, drain the water and dump into the dish pan with holes .
Step 3: Rinse or water each tray 2-3 times daily. The goal is to provide water for growth, but not allow standing water in the trays. Be sure after watering that each tray has drained well.
Repeat Step 3 keep rinsing at least twice daily for seven to nine days depending on the growth. Growth is very dependent on temperature and water.
Step 4: Harvest. Once the fodder is as tall as grass in the pan (i.e. see the photo above), we feed the rabbits with it.
We were really excited to see the progress of how quickly the barley sprouted. Once the first round of fodder was done, we fed it to the rabbits. They loved the new food. We have been able to save money by supplementing the rabbit pellet feed with fodder. Besides the fodder, the rabbits are also eating orchard grass and a timothy hay mixture, and almost no pellet food. This is about as organic as we can get their diet at this time.
Sprouting barley seems to take a bit longer in our neck of the woods than what we have seen in videos, as most videos the fodder is 3-4″ within 5 days, and we don’t typically see that growth until around day 7-9. This is something to consider as I’m not sure it is our process or just the temperature of the growing environment.
The chickens will not require as much growth as the rabbits do as they are more accustomed to eating seeds, so we will probably begin feeding the chickens fodder after the 3rd or 4th day. Once the barley has sprouted and started establishing a root, but before they start to grow any green shoot.
Please share your experiences with growing and feeding sprouted grain to your livestock.