In 2013 I wrote an Instructable on growing fodder to feed Rabbits. Since that time I have had many years to practice and perfect this system, so I felt I should write an Instuctable on an improved fodder growing system.
My original Instructable was for feeding my Rabbits, this version is currently being used to feed my chickens, yet it could be easily (and often is) used for feeding Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and other small animals. I have made changes to this system so it is less labor intensive and will still produce the same (or more) amount of fodder.
My instructions start with explaining how to set it up, with instructions for the first and second day. To continue with the system just keep going through these motions.
If you have trouble with this Instructable format, or have any questions, please check my Youtube video. It is in the last step of this Instructable. It may be of some assistance. Alternatively, check out my website - www.littletassieprepper.com
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Step 1: Housekeeping
I thought before I get into the project I would describe the grain that I use. I use a whole barley grain which I buy from a local animal feed store. I am in Australia, so I doubt that this brand would be available to people outside of the country.
I have tried Wheat, which worked pretty well, yet in my experience barley gives the best results.
While you can grow the fodder in any location you choose, I find that using a greenhouse type structure will allow you to grow the fodder outdoors in most weather and prevent most animals from getting access.
I say it should be outside as the fodder will be draining water from the bottom of the buckets, and you don't want that on your living room floor.
Finally, I would like to say that this system grows good fodder for me in around 5 days. This can depend a little on the weather, yet it is pretty dependable. You should find similar results, yet if not please do not give up. Just give it a few more days. You may have to add extra buckets, and extra days, to get the fodder to a stage which you will accept.
Once you get the system running, you might like to copy me and set it up so you double up and grow your fodder in two buckets... you might even triple it. This is all up to you.
Step 2: Preparing for Growing Fodder
I recommend starting with at least 7 plastic buckets, 6 of them will be for growing the fodder, the 7th will be for soaking the grain. Using a 3mm drill bit, an electric drill and some artistic flair, I lay out a pattern of holes in the bottom of the bucket.
I normally just make my own pattern, yet for the sake of this Instructable I used a marker and drew a grid on the bucket. Drill a number of holes to allow the water to drain from the bucket at a nice pace, without making them too close together or numerous to compromise the integrity of the plastic.
Be sure not to press too heavily on the drill... let the drill bit do the work of cutting the hole. If you press too hard you may crack the bucket.
Do this for 6 of the buckets.
Now it is time to start the fodder soaking. I add around 900ml of barley to the soaking bucket, and follow that up
with 2 liters of water. I then place this on the bottom shelf of my Fodder stand.
Now it is time to wait for a night.
Step 3: Day 1 After Soaking the Fodder
So 24 hours have passed, the grain has soaked and drawn in moisture. It is ready to sprout.
I pour the water and grain into one of the buckets which I have already prepared in step 1 by drilling the drainage holes. The majority of the water should pour from the bucket, through the holes, leaving the grains slightly moist, yet not sitting in water. I allow it to sit for another 24 hours.
24 hours later? You wait...
To continue the production line, go back to the previous step - in particular, filling a bucket with 900mls of grain and 2 liters of water.
Do this every day till you have filled the last bucket with soaked grain.
Step 4: Day 2 After Soaking
This is who the fodder should look at day 2. Put another batch into the original bucket to soak by following step one through 2.
Step 5: Day 3 After Soaking
Day 3 after soaking. You can see some real progress around this stage, with the shoots emerging from the grain. As before, follow step 1 and 2 and wait another day for the fodder.
Depending on your climate, your fodder may be getting a little dry around now. I find now to be a good time to pour in a liter or two of clean water. It will re hydrate the fodder to improve growth, it will also flush out any water which may be getting a little funky. So pour in the water and let it flow out.
I have a sprinkler system set up in my greenhouse, so I have found I can skip this re hydration step.
Step 6: Day 4 After Soaking
Day 4 after soaking, the fodder could be used at this point and would provide a nutritious diet for your Chickens. I like to keep it going for a couple more days.
Step 7: Day 5 After Soaking
It is the fifth day after soaking and the fodder is ready to go to your chickens. I like to spread it out a little when I feed them, I have found that some will swallow it in large clumps if they can and it can cause them to feel some discomfort (they cough and sneeze). If that happens I find gently rubbing and massaging their crop will help them to digest the fodder.
If you would like to grow the fodder for longer, to feed to other animals like Rabbits, just keep going through these same steps till it is at a size of growth you can use.
Step 8: Video Instructions
If you are a more visual learner, please consider checking my video on the process which I posted on Youtube. It is my first real Youtube video, so it is pretty shaky.