Gene and I are still fighting the nasty flu bug that had been going around our area so our homesteading efforts this week are minimal. I made a big pot of homemade chicken and vegetable soup today and I am hoping that this natural medicine can help us to feel a bit better and soon. On to today’s post.
It is sprouting greens season again.
Sprouts are simply whole grains or seeds that are grown with water before being fed to the chickens. Sprouting grains is an easy way to provide chickens with fresh, nutritious greens any time of year with very little effort.
Chickens need a mix of protein with an adequate source of energy vitamins and minerals as well as water. These requirements are met by feeding them while grains in addition to the protein source. Sprouting grains is one way to stretch a feed budget for the average backyard flock as a supplement to their diet but not as their primary feed source.
In addition, I am always looking for ways to give my more chicken live greens, especially in the winter months. Sometimes I sprout mung beans in a quart jar in my kitchen and in warm sunny weather I plant barley seeds right in the soil of their chicken run. This makes greens available to them anytime they are outside pecking and scratching.
Thinking ahead to winter, when it will be too cold to grow the barley seeds out-of-doors, I am experimenting with sprouting barley seeds in a plastic dish washing tub in my laundry room right now.
I like to have live green sprouts available for my chickens.
Sprouting can be done on your kitchen counter or in your laundry room. No special lights are needed just a room temperature around 45 degrees F and 69 degrees F.
This winter I am using an old black metal shelving unit that has been used in both of my homes and more recently in my art gallery. I set this stand up in my laundry/mechanical room near the sink for rinsing near the natural sunlight shines in from a south-facing window. Our laundry/mechanical room is the warmest room in our home due to winter use of our clothes dryer, our hot water boiler heating unit and the south-facing sunshine…so it’s the perfect place in our home for sprouting.
I bought my barley seeds from the Amish feed store in our area. I requested untreated seeds and they were able to order them from an Amish farmer in Indiana. This is the closest I can get to organic whole grain seeds. Barley is a cover crop that is high in nutrients when sprouted because the nutrition then become more bioavailable. My chickens love seeds of all types and sprouted barley seeds are no exception.
There are several ways to make sprouts but this is the one I use.
- Put the grains in a bucket and let them soak for 12 hours.
- Pour off extra water and smooth the grain out to a thin and even layer.
- Put trays on my food shelving rack.
- I rinse and water my trays of barley seeds twice a day. I do not reuse the water.
- I grow these sprouts for around 5-8 days and when they are sprouted, I grab two handfuls and toss them into the chicken run.
I make my barley sprouts in a newly bought plastic paper holder I purchased from the Dollar Store and an old retired white dish pan that became available when I bought my new metal dish pan this summer from Lehman’s, www.lehmans.com/ I always love to repurpose things when I can and not add to the landfill problem.
I love Lehman’s because all the wares they sell are solid made and they have been providing non-electric alternatives since 1955. They offer homestead needs from oil lamps, wood stoves, off grid necessities to kitchen ware that will last a lifetime and still be passed on. I recently splurged and bought a solid blue graniteware washing tub, an Amish made tack cloth clothes pin holder for my clothesline and a study, metal dust pan. None of these items will ever have to be replaced, not in my lifetime or in the lifetime of my children either..
Sprouts can be fed to the chickens at any time but the nutrition benefits max out at around day six.
There is a lot if information on sprouting on the internet if you need more details, of free to contact me and I’ll help you any way I can.
Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna