I know, I know you’re wondering what exactly is fodder? If you are an urban farmsteader/farmer, fodder is all the rage. It’s all over Pinterest, Backyard Chickens, and countless blogs and websites. But really, what exactly is fodder?
Fodder is a type of food for various farm animals such as cattle, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, sheep and even horses. It means that the “farmer” grows it and delivers it to the animals instead of the animals going out and foraging for it. We currently grow fodder for all of our peeps at the farmstead.
Fodder in the form of sprouted grains and legumes can be grown in small and large quantities. Systems have been developed recently that allow for many tons of sprouts to be produced each day, year round. Sprouted grains can greatly increase the nutritional value of the grain compared with feeding the ungerminated grain to stock. In addition, they use less water than traditional forage, making them ideal for drought conditions. Sprouted barley and other cereal grains can be grown hydroponically in a carefully controlled environment. Under hydroponic conditions, sprouted fodder at 150 mm tall with a 50 mm root mat is at its peak for animal feed. Although products such as barley are grain, when sprouted they are approved by the American Grassfed Association to be used as livestock feed. – Thank you Wikipedia. Now that I’ve answered the question; what exactly is fodder, we’ll move on to what we do at the farmstead.
The set up we have for our girls is a 10 day rotation and a mix of 5 grains (alfalfa, barley, milo, wheat and black oil sunflower seed). The girls go crazy when they see the fodder pans in the morning. Pretty sure it’s like crack for them. There is a process to starting fodder; first you soak your seed in water for 8-24 hours. We’ve had the best results with 6-8 hours of soak time though. Next, you drain your seeds and spread them out on your fodder pans. Since the set up we have is small, we simply use aluminum roasting pans. You want to make sure that your seeds stay damp – not wet. If your seeds are in standing water, your germination will decrease and your chances of mold will increase.
Look at that beautiful green food for the peepers. We have found that we have MUCH less waste with the fodder than we did with the grain. The chickens eat all of the fodder – the grass, the root mat and the leftover seeds. Since we have begun providing a steady diet of fodder to the girls, we’ve noticed more eggs – yep more eggs, bigger eggs – I mean you can’t shut an egg carton over them big, darker golden orange yolks – so tasty, the girls seem to be happier and healthier too. I even caught our Millie on the nest the other day – how exciting is that! I was pretty sure she was done laying for us.
We are going to be adding new critters to our little farmstead soon and we have been looking at upgrades for our system. We’ve been looking at the FodderPro systems and have done our best to pick out the one that will best be suited for our needs. It’s a little expensive for us at the moment and so, we’re hoping some of our followers and friends would be willing to help us out a little. We’ve set up a gofundme account for anyone that would like to become a ground floor member of the farmstead. We’ve done our research and have watched countless videos on different systems.