Saturday, January 5, 2013

Growing Fodder (part 4) - Building the System

Once I had made the commitment to grow the Fodder this winter to supplement my dairy goats' grazing diet instead of purchasing hay ... I had to build the system to grow the Fodder in.

If you missed the earlier "Growing Fodder for my Goats" posts, you can access them here:
Growing Fodder Part 1
Growing Fodder Part 2
Growing Fodder Part 3


What did I need for the Fodder System?

I decided to use the "flood and drain" method of watering the growing trays.  So, I needed a water source for the irrigation system.

For the health of my goats, I have a great concern about making sure that mold does not have a chance to grow in the Fodder while it grows in the trays.  So, I decided not to re-use or recirculate the irrigation water and I would need a way to drain the water away from the system.

The growing Fodder would need a moderate temperature to grow in.  So, I decided to build the Fodder System in the unheated front entry room that's on the South end of the old farmhouse where I live.  It had everything that would meet all the considerations for the project ... water source, concrete floor, easy entry and exit, windows for light, electricity, and a door to the heated part of the house.  I could open the door to allow heat to flow into the room when necessary.

To grow the Fodder, I would need a sturdy shelving unit to hold enough trays to have a continuous supply of Fodder being grown to feed each day.  I had determined that I would be growing Fodder with 30 pounds of my seed mix each day to supply my goats with 1% to 2% of their body weight in finished Fodder.  So, I would need space for 15 (11x22) trays for each day.  Each tray would hold 2 pounds of soaked seeds on their first day on the shelves.  By the time they had grown for 6 more days, the finished Fodder would weigh 12 to 14 pounds per tray.  This growing shelf needed to be quite sturdy!


The system that I designed and built is 10 feet long, 6 feet tall, and 3 feet deep.  It has 8 shelves to hold the growing trays.  Each shelf will hold 15 of the 11x22 growing trays.

The finished shelves and drain trays


Here's how I built the system ...

First, I put in the Drain Trays.  These are old tanks from an RV.   I purchased the tanks at an action several months ago for the price of $1 each.  Didn't know what I was going to do with them at the time, but they sure worked great for this project!  I cut the tops out of the tanks using a cut-off wheel on my handheld grinder.

Drain trays made from RV tanks

These needed to drain the water out away from the system, so I plumbed them to gravity drain outside through the wall.

 3/4 inch pvc pipe going out of a hole in the wall.  

I used silicone to close the small gap around the exit pipe.  I also put insulation back into the wall around the pipe.

 I cut a hole in the Drain Trays to fit the 3/4 inch threaded pvc fitting.  

I also used silicone around the fitting to ensure there were no leaks.

 Both Drain Trays were plumed into the pipe going through the wall

Drain Tray plumbing finished.

After the water drainage was taken care of, I could build the shelves above the drain trays.


Here's how I built the shelves.....

I used 3/4 inch EMT (electric metal tubing) for the upright legs and for the 10 foot long horizontal shelve parts.  I used 1/2 inch EMT for the 3 foot horizontal shelf parts where the trays would sit.

I used 2 Hole Straps to join the EMT pipes together.

I  used 1/2 inch self tapping screws and my cordless drill.

I cut the pipes to length with a small hand held pipe cutting tool.

 The cut is made my rotating and tightening the tool.  This cut is almost all the way through.
I measured where the pipes would need to join each other. 

I screwed the straps to the 10 foot horizontal shelf parts. 

 I had to make sure they were all in alignment on one side of the pipe.

Securing the pipes together.

 I attached the leg pipes to the long horizontal shelf parts with the straps while they were laying on the floor.  
Then I set them up into position against the wall.  I used metal strapping and long screws to secure the shelf unit to studs in the walls to give it stability.

I finished the back first. 

Then, I attached the leg pipes to the long horizontal shelf pipes for the front of the selves.

Squaring up the front and back.

I used the 3 foot short shelf pipes to hold the front to the back of the shelves.  With the straps already screwed onto the long horizontal pipes, it was easy to slip the short pipes into the straps and tighten the screws to secure the short horizontal pipes.

Since the shelves were 3 feet deep (and my arms are no where near that long) ... I had to add all the 3 foot cross shelve pipes one vertical row at a time working from the inside of the shelving unit.

Adding the 3 foot shelf pipes 

 The shelves finished at 8 inches apart

 The finished Shelves and  Drain Trays for the Fodder System

Sprouted seeds in trays on the new shelf unit.

The end of the shelf unit is close to the washer and dryer.  This gives me the perfect water source for irrigating the Fodder System.

I'll describe the irrigation system in the Part 5 post ......



Linda said...

Oh thank you Brenda! I will need a much smaller system and I was thinking of using PVC pipe to make mine. Looking forward to the next part 5 post!

Rogue Wild said...

Love the design, emt pipe is great! I can't wait to read the rest of your journey, thank you so much for sharing it!

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