Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Growing Fodder (part 7) - Growing and Feeding

Once the Fodder shelving and irrigation system was in place, I began preparing the mix of seeds that I had planned to sprout and grow to feed the goats.  Here's how it's gone so far ...

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
Growing Fodder Part 4
Growing Fodder Part 5
Growing Fodder Part 6


If you recall from my Part 2 post ... my goats wouldn't even taste of the Wheat Grass Fodder that I had grown.  And, from the tests I ran on several seeds, I found some things they liked as sprouted Fodder.

Here is the seed mix that I'm growing for them......

RatioSeed$ per lblb per day
5 PartsRye0.3515
3 PartsWheat0.2911.25
1/2 PartWinter Peas0.571.5
1/2 PartSunflower0.531.5
1/4 PartTurnip2.000.75
Seed Mix0.4030
I weigh out each seed type and pour it into a large tub to mix the seeds together.

Seeds in the tub

Seed Mix

I prepare a 5 gallon bucket with warm water to soak the seeds in preparation for sprouting.  I add a cap (tsp) of bleach to the soaking water to kill any mold spores or bacteria that may be on the seeds.  This is to help prevent mold growth as the Fodder grows.  

Adding the Bleach

I add the seeds to the 5 gallon bucket and finish adding enough water to cover the seeds by at least 2 inches.  I soak the seeds for 4 hours.  I've found that this gives me the best germination rate.

 Seeds soaking

When the seeds have finished their soak time, I dip the seeds out with a strainer and place them into the growing trays about 1/2 inch thick.  I found that the 30 pounds of seeds would fill 24 trays.

Growing Tray 11x22

 Drain Holes in the Tray

Soaked Seeds in the Tray

At the end of Day 1 - you can already see root sprouts on the seeds.

Day 1 

Day 2 - More Root growth

Watering the trays from the irrigation system at the top of the shelving worked well by allowing the water to drain through the upper trays to and through the lower trays.

Watering the trays

Water running through the upper trays to the lower ones

You will recall that I built the Fodder System in the unheated entry room on the south side of the old farmhouse where I live.  The farmhouse's only heat source is with a wood stove.  So, I was hoping to be able to grow the Fodder in the unheated room without needing to open the door to share the rest of the house's heat with the "fodder room".  Without the door open the temperature was around 50* during the day and around 40* at night.  This was with outside night temperatures in the 20's.

 Daytime temp in the fodder room

What I found at this temperature is that the Fodder grew VERY slowly.  I realized that I was going to have to keep the wood stove burning pretty hot and share the heat with the fodder room so growth would be more acceptable.

Day 3 growth from the cooler temperatures


The main issue I had with the earlier Fodder tests is that my goats wouldn't taste of it.  They are the reason that I'm growing Fodder.  At the time I was running tests, they had LOTS of browse and graze out in the areas of the ranch where they free range forage every day.  So, they had no incentive to eat this strange looking grassy stuff.

At the suggestion of friends, I fed some of this batch of the mixed seed Fodder at the Day 3 early sprout stage.  It still looked like a grain that they might recognize.  They do get some oats when they come into the milking parlor during the milking season.

Day 3

 Removing the Sprouts from the trays

  Sprouted seeds in the bucket ready to take to the goats


I built a couple of feeders for feeding the Fodder to the goats out of a 7 foot x 8 inch pvc pipe.  I cut the pipe in half with the cut off wheel on my handheld grinder.  Then made legs for it from pressure treated lumber.  It should be a convenient height for the goats to eat from.

Pipe feeder for the Fodder 


 I took the Day 3 Sprouted seeds to the pregnant does in the Kidding area first to see if they would eat it.  Yes, they enjoyed it very much!

 Lilah and Fawn eating the Sprouts

Lilah especially liked it

Then I took the rest of the bucket of Sprouts to the rest of the herd before turning them out to graze for the day.

 Several of them tasted and ate the Sprouts

But, no one was really excited about them.

I encouraged more of them to come to try the Sprouts 

It was obvious that they would rather have me open the gates so they could go out foraging for the day.

After letting the goats out, the chickens came in to pick through what the goats had left 

The chickens really liked the Spouts

 I also took some to the rabbits.

The rabbits really liked it too

The rabbits are enjoying some of the fresh growing Fodder each day.


After opening the door from the house to the unheated fodder room, the temperature has stayed between 60* and 70* in there.  The Fodder has grown at a normal faster rate with the warmer temperatures.

 Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

You could almost see it growing with the warmer temperature and plenty of water from the irrigation system. I'll be taking that nice green Fodder out to the goats in the morning to see if they'll eat it.

I found that the grassy seeds - rye and wheat - out grew the other seeds in the mix.  The other seeds - peas, turnip, and sunflower - have sprouted and are growing, but not at the rate of the grassy plants.  I may be doing more experimenting with my seed mix to provide the goats with a Fodder they'll love.

In the meantime, the pregnant does who are in the Kidding yard ... are enjoying the Fodder since they are not going out foraging so close to their due dates.


1 comment:

Linda said...

Brenda, do you think vinegar could be used instead of bleach?