Thursday, January 3, 2013

Growing Fodder for my Goats (part 2)

After my initial test of growing fodder in Mid-October, I felt pretty good about the results.  I had successfully grown beautiful green Wheat Fodder.

If you missed the blog post on this, you can click catch up on how I started this Fodder adventure.


Of course growing Fodder to simply grow Fodder wasn't the point of experimenting with this idea.  The whole reason of doing this is that my dairy goats had to consume the finished product.  Did they like it?  No...  They did not appreciate my efforts.  I couldn't even get them to taste it.  Several of them sniffed of it, but no one would taste it.

But, you have to look at their point of view on it ... They had LOTS of delicious graze and browse available to them at that time.  The fall rains had come and the fields and hedge rows were lush.  The trees still had candy leaves on them.  Why should an animal that prefers browse choose to eat a boring grassy food?  They weren't hungry enough to want this strange thing I was trying to get them to eat.  They just wanted to go out to stuff themselves with the wild forages.

Was I disappointed?  Yes.....  I was very disappointed. Did I give up on the Fodder idea for supplementing their food during the winter months when free range foraging would be very slim?  No..... I just had to find something that would appeal to their tastes and be able to be grown hydroponically in a Fodder system.  It also had to be affordable and meet the economic reasons of why I was choosing to grow Fodder over purchasing expensive hay for the winter.  

So ... I fed the first batch of Fodder to the chickens and the Second Round of testing began ......


For this round of testing I would soak, sprout, and grow several different kinds of seeds to see how they would work growing them as Fodder.  I needed to see at what rate they would sprout and grow.  I planned to create a mix that would be more appealing to my picky goats.

I choose grains/seeds that were available locally in bulk and could be obtained throughout the winter.  They also had to be affordable.

For testing, I purchased 5 pounds each of these grains/seeds ...  .

Seed $PerLb
Rye        0.35
Wheat        0.29
Turnip        2.00
Winter Peas        0.57
Buckwheat        0.72
Black Oil Sunflower        0.53

 I measured 1/2 pound of each into a separate container to soak them for 4 hours and then put each of them into a colander lined with a paper towel to keep the seeds in and allow for good drainage.  My kitchen became the Fodder testing and growing system.  I used the dish drainer to hold the colanders and watered the batches of seed with the kitchen sprayer 4 times a day.

The soaked seeds in the colanders 

 Buckwheat sprouting roots at Day-2

  Buckwheat growth at Day-5

Winter Peas sprouting roots at Day-2

Winter Peas growth at Day-5

 Cereal Rye sprouting at Day-2 

Yes, this is the amazing fast results for the Rye! Root growth and top growth by Day 2.

  Cereal Rye root and top growth at Day-2 

  Cereal Rye growth at Day-5

Black Oil Sunflower sprouting at Day-2 

Black Oil Sunflower growth at Day-5

Turnip sprouting at Day-2 

 Turnip growth at Day-5

Wheat sprouting at Day-1

Wheat growth at Day-5


I learned through this test that most of these seeds sprouted and grew at about the same rate.  The Rye grew much faster than the other seeds, but I felt that they were all a success for growing as Fodder.

Did the goats like any of these? Yes!  They loved the Black Oil Sunflower sprouts, the Turnip sprouts, the Buckwheat sprouts, and the Winter Pea sprouts.  So ... I'm making a mixed seed Fodder for them that has Rye and Wheat as the base with enough of the other seeds mixed in to keep it interesting for them.

I was ready to design and build the system where I would be able to grow the quantity of Fodder needed for supplementing their winter nutrition needs. .... to be continued!



Denise Wilhelm said...

I am so avidly interested in how this works!! I raise dairy and meat goats in one of the coldest parts of Alaska, and getting good nutrition into them during winter is critical - mostly because it lasts so long! My goats get browse from about the end of June to the end of August. That's it. The rest of the time they eat hay.

Brenda said...

Denise - I think growing fodder for your goats would be a great solution for giving them fresh food. I've found that I can grow a lot of fodder in a relatively small space. I'll be posting all the details. :D

*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

I remember how disappointed you were when they wouldn't eat it.. Apparently they also didn't want just One kind either!!Lol I know mine liked the Turnips I planted in the pasture this year and they love the BOSS that sprouts..

starlighthill said...

Thanks for posting your experiments. I raise fodder for my sheep, bunnies & hogs (when we have them)& am blogging about this, too. A reader told me about your blog & I'm so glad she did.
My experiences with rye were the same as yours. Do you know how the protein % in the BOSS is changed by sprouting?
I wish I could find a source for peas. That would pump up the protein & be great for my chickens.