Looking for a way to let your silkies enjoy free range greenery in the middle of winter? Want a break from the boredom of the coop and give the birds some entertainment? Sprouting will give you the benefits of free range all year round.
At VJP Poultry, we are always looking for ways to improve our operation. Sprouting grains and growing fodder is one way in which you can get more “bang for your buck” as far as your feed bill goes. Sprouting not only makes your grain more usable nutritionally, but it also reduces the amount of feed you purchase because of the increased volume of sprouting seeds.
Sprouts and fodder are simply different stages of the same thing. Seeds first sprout and then as they develop stems they turn into fodder.
Sprouting makes vitamins, minerals and proteins in grains more digestible. Sprouting improves enzyme content. After sprouting, the grain becomes 40-50% more digestible . The silkies are actually getting more nutrition and fiber than from the same amount of unsprouted grain. Sprouts contain chlorophyll and beta – carotene resulting in darker yolks and more nutritious eggs.
Seeds and grains come with a preservation system that is designed to protect the seed’s stored proteins, fats and minerals over an extended period of time until conditions are right for germination. This protective shell consists of items that are anti nutrients when ingested.
Sprouting or fermenting seeds and grains reduces or eliminates the anti nutrients and increases the bio availability of many nutrients such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, Folate, fiber and essential amino acids such as Lysine.
Sprouting is very easy. First acquire seeds from a reputable source. Always use clean, sanitized containers and clean, fresh water. You can sprout any seed but most people sprout wheat, oat and barley seed. BOSS sunflower seed are acceptable too.
Next rinse the amount of seeds you plan to sprout and then soak them in water for 8 to 24 hours. I just soak them overnight. The next day rinse again and put into some kind of tray with drainage holes in it. I then rinse the whole tray in water for five minutes once a day. I keep my trays on shelving where they get some sunlight.
Each day they will continue to grow sprouting roots and then stems. When the stems are between one inch and four inches is a good time to feed them to the silkie chickens. You don’t want the stems too long as this can cause an impacted crop. Around 6-7 days growth is good.
Watch out for mold growth. The more you rinse the seeds, the less black mold growth there will be. I have yet to see any mold growing in our fodder.
At VJP Poultry, our silkies love to gobble up the fodder and sprouted seeds. Even the seeds that don’t end up sprouting but have just been soaked are yummy to them. I feel better knowing that they are getting green growth all year round. Growing fodder is a fun project which can be done indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer. Have fun sprouting seeds and growing fodder for your pets.