When we first started raising chickens, we gave them grain that we bought from tractor supply. And then I got into foraging and started foraging for the chickens in the spring summer and fall. So our cost of feed went WAY down and then winter hit and I couldn’t walk through the yard and find for for them anymore. With much distaste, we went back to buying grain, but we really wanted a better way. Plus we know(well I know) we are going to have lots more animals in the future, so we need a good way to feed them. Chickens only take in a small percent of nutrients from pellets. Plus they may even poop some out without even digesting them. With the new feed option we found, they are able to take in more of their vitamins and nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy.
And one day it hit me while I was playing a game called Stardew Valley on our PS4…….FODDER!!!! Oh yes! We were pretty surprised we hadn’t happened upon someone else doing this in all of our interweb searching about homesteading. Alas, we decided to start our own fodder system. We started on a system that would give us enough green tops, soggy seed, and roots to give to our chickens everyday. It is organic, cheaper, and awesome to watch. The only downfall is if you miss a day then you are behind a day. And since we cannot time travel yet, that means you will have to feed your animals something else a few days after you forget to contribute to the Fodder System.
To start you need to buy a bag of seed to grow. There are a lot of options when it comes to what to grow. Some people use just one seed and others like to use a mixture. We started on a budget. So we went to our local Co-Op and bought a 50lbs bag of wheat seeds for a little over $10. For us that was perfect. Since I have terrible luck, we didn’t want to have to much into our experiment if it went awry. The first real difficulty we ran into was figuring out how much we needed to give our chickens each day to keep them healthy without making to much and it going to waste. That took us quite a while since most people tell you how much they use for the whole coop not how much each chicken needs so we could do it for ourselves. And since we love our eggs and chicken meat, we want our coop to be full of very happy and healthy birds. But since you are here reading, you won’t have the struggle we did. Each chicken needs about a quarter cup of seed a day. Once it grows over a 7 day span, it will be a perfect amount for most backyard chicken breeds. If you have a special breed that tends to have specific feeding needs then go with other advice on amounts. We have not had any problems with our chickens with this amount though.
So find a shelf set up that works for the space you have to devote to the fodder system. We used a wire shelf and plastic shoe box bins. We drilled small holes in the bottom of all of the bins so that water will slowly drain down trough all of the bins.
We had enough room for 8 bins, so that’s what we went with. We placed each bin on the shelf flat and we move each box down a spot each morning. The bin we take out is Fodder that has grown over 8 days. It goes out to the chickens and then gets placed in spot 1 . You will need to soak your seeds in water over night before putting them in to the bin to grow. After feeding your animals the fodder, dump your soaked seeds into the now empty bin. we do this with it on the shelf already so that when we dump it all out, the water falls through that side. We use the container that we soak seeds in to water both sides, careful not to pour to fast or in just one spot. There is a big bin at the bottom of the system that catches all of the water. We are currently working on a way to not have to dump the bin out when it gets full. (thinking about a pond pump to set up an automatic watering system)
The fodder will grow a few inches tall. Pulling it out of the bins will be super easy. Fodder becomes like carpet as it grows.
We used the lids to cover our seeds over night because we had some issues with mice.
We are thinking of mixing up our seed mix come this spring. So if you have ideas or suggestions to help make our system better, let us know!! Show us your system if you have one going or just started. And follow us on Instagram and Facebook. And check out our homepage to see all of our other cool adventures 🙂
Thanks for reading and Happy Homesteading!