Troubleshooting: Sprouting Barley Fodder

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Fodder Day 4As you know, a few months ago, we began sprouting barley for the rabbits and chickens so we could save money on our feed. The growing of the fodder was going well until about a month ago when we noticed the following problems:

  • Seeds not fully producing
  • Fodder having a foul smell
  • Mold growing on the seeds.
  • Seeds dry out or getting old
  • Seeds not getting enough water

After being very frustrated, I decided that I would research the issues and see if other people have had similar problems. It was interesting to see that our issues were shared by others. Someone had asked about what happens when fodder has a foul smell,  it was said that this happens because the grain is spoiling rather than sprouting. This can be a sign that the pans are not properly drained. I was also able to get some information regarding the barley seed getting moldy. It is said that the barley will start to mold if you have poor air circulation in the pan. The information that I found was very interesting and helpful for us to start troubleshooting.

We gave our chickens the barley that was not growing in the pans. Then we washed all the pans with hot soapy water and let air dry. Then we had our son, take a drill and re-drill bigger holes in the bottom of the pans and sides. This should help with the drainage of water, which also helps with the smell.  Next, we wanted to try to add a scoop of barley seed in the pan to soak instead of 2 scoops. We are hoping that having less seed will help with air circulation and prevent the seeds from getting moldy.

The results from the first pan that we tried was not that great. The fodder seemed to only grow in the top 1/3 of the pan. The next pan had better results. We are now making sure that we wet the barley seeds at least twice a day to ensure a proper growth pattern. The next few pans were back to normal. We are hoping that the changes are going to produce the same amount of fodder as we were getting a month ago.

Please share your comments and tips of how we can avoid having these issues in the future.


Cheryl Blatnik

Cheryl is energetic,motivated,hard working, determined and loves a good challenge. She enjoys gardening, loves animals, and learning new things. Her goal is to become more self sufficient and a better homesteader. She would like to get back to the basics with cooking, homemaking, and food preservation. Cheryl additionally holds several degrees and enjoys her career within the medical community and working in Accounting. She is successfully raising a teenager of her own and 2 other teenage children. Her life long goal is to live in the country completely off-grid on a productive homestead away from goverment bureaucracy.

3 thoughts on “Troubleshooting: Sprouting Barley Fodder

  • September 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    On basic Your website I have to You a some questions:
    – Which is ratio between Fodder and dry hay as feed do Your rabbits?
    – Whic accesories to fed do You used- minerals, vitamins and etc..?
    -Do You have another types animals?
    -Which quantity to a percent from daily feed is green fodder for broiler chickens or hens?
    – Do You a experiences with Fodder to sheeps? Which kg a green fodder is in daily feed to a sheep?

    – Which type a fodder units do You used, From which producent?

    Best thanks

    Fr. KOLLAR
    country Slovakia, Europe

    Please Your message to my email:

    • October 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Great questions, we do not have sheep so I am unfamiliar with their feeding requirements.

      Ratio is not critical as this is a supplement and not their entire diet.
      Chickens (Hens): we use a 24hr soak process and then feed the (6) chickens the sprouted grain from that soak. usually a tray (12″x 14″) in size
      Rabbits: we typically do a 5 day sprout and give the (3) rabbits the same size tray.

      We have talked about going to a 100% fodder for all of our animals but that takes some work and our current system would not scale as easily to accomodate that much fodder.

      For other supplements, we typically use non GMO organic feed, and don’t feel the need to have to further supplement.

      We will typically use barley as fodder, and we buy in bulk from the feed store as it is grown locally.

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