It’s no secret by now that we are in “how-to-save-the-most-money-while-raising-non-gmo-organic-backyard-chicken-eggs” mode.
There has been a lot of projects and experimenting around here. So much that Scott often wonders if the “honey-do” list will ever end. No, honey… It won’t ever end. 😀
To recap, so far we have:
- Created an extended chicken run using free pallets
- Built grazing boxes (aka a buffet for chickens)
- Converted the tops of the pallets in our extended chicken run with herbs and shallow root veggies that will help feed the chickens
- Dedicated a section of our raised beds for our chickens (check out this awesome chicken garden variety pack!)
The next thing I’m experimenting with is growing sprouts for them. Essentially, it’s like the grazing box but without dirt. You get your grains or sprouts, soak them in water for the first day, and then rinse them out twice a day until they sprout to the desired length you want.
Doing this gives them fresh, nutritious greens and hopefully saves you money on feed. For the sprouts, I decided to try alfalfa, clover, wheat grass, and barley (find organic sprouts here).
The process was incredibly easy but there are a few newbie mistakes I made that I want to share:
- I put 1/2 a cup of each in a pint size mason jar which ended up being a mistake for the clover and alfalfa. They outgrew their space 4-fold and one jar actually busted on me. Next time, I’ll put about 2 tablespoons of clover and alfalfa per jar or use bigger jars and increase my amount of sprouts.
- I soaked them for two days instead of one. Yep, I totally forgot them about them being in the cupboard. Next time, I’ll probably set a reminder on the phone since it has been so busy and crazy around here lately.
- I didn’t have a mesh screen so I had to use a really small mesh colander which worked fine, but it would have been much easier with a mesh screen and rubber band that fit perfectly. I’ve considered getting one of these sprout kits for ease.
At the end of my experiment, I found that growing your own sprouts for chickens on a small scale (like in the mason jars) is great to give as a nutritious treat that does not cost much at all. In terms of saving money long run and making an impact on the feed bill, you would have to turn the whole process into a fodder system and grow them on a larger scale (think large flats).
Sprouting for your chickens and determining if it will decrease your feed bill also varies on the amount of chickens you have. We have eight girls so a couple mason jars would serve as great treats but nothing that would cut our costs significantly. If we only had two, I could see it making a difference.
That being said, I can definitely see myself growing sprouts as treats for chickens once or twice a month because the cost of seed is extremely minimal and the amount of time you have to actually put into growing the sprouts is minimal as well.
In terms of what the chickens liked best; they went for the barley and wheat grass first and then after a little hesitation, went for the alfalfa and clover. Interestingly enough, I thought they would gobble up the alfalfa and clover but they always seem to surprise me with what their spoiled chicken taste buds like.
Have you ever grown sprouts for your chickens?
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