So I was reading a blog a few weeks ago in search of alternative pig feeds. Well, this particular blog (http://theozarkhouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/growing-fodder-for-the-homestead/) talked about using home grown fodder for piggies. The claim is turn 1 lb dry seed (barley in our case) and turn it into 8 lbs of feed in a week. Sounds good, right?
There is alot of conflicting research on fodder feed. Supposedly it increase digestibility of grain…but because the seed is only sprouted and does not feed off soil the only nutrients available are those already in the seed. A few nutrients seem to increase in availability up to 8 days a few decrease slightly. What does increase is water weight..but dry weight actually DECREASES in some cases.
But II do find lots of testimonials of people claiming it works. So for a start of cost of $25 I gave it a try. My first fodder mat:
I had some seed starting trays sitting around so i put the sprouted seed in there to grow into a nice mat. See what happened when I popped it out? It all stuck together!
So the process I used was to soak seeds overnight with a dash of bleach to kill mold spores. After that I transfered it into basins from the dollar tree i drilled small holes in for drainage. I’d rinse the seeds twice a day then once they were drained I’d give them a good mix with my hands to aerate and then stack them up and put them in a drawer to sprout (top one got a little plastic on top to keep from drying out) After about 3 days they were sprouted enough to move to a tray. I repeated rinsing twice a day until they were tall enough to feed.
So lets see how the animals responded?
Piglets? Meh. its ok…..but not as good as moms milk or grain.
Rosie, my hero, tore into it. She did seem to enjoy having some salad.
So one day into it only one of my animals seems to like it. People are claiming all sorts of things about fodder: its cheaper, it improves gain, animals come to prefer it, less sickness and more production. Well…since I can’t convince my milk sheep to eat it I have no easy way to gauge success on my farm.
But my neighbors….THEY actually have chickens. This year has been a bad year for eggs, though. Usually they get 5 a day around this time of year. This year they have been getting 2 a day. from 10 chickens. They were figuring the hens were all laid out. So we decided to give the chickens some fodder to see how the responded. None of us really expected to much bu they were willing to give it a shot. Interestingly they laid 4 eggs the first day, 3 the next and another 3. So three days into the experiment the egg production has increased by 50% already. That seems an awful quick response, almost too quick for me to believe. My neighbor thinks its the fodder, so they will continue to get it and we will see if their production continues to improve.
This morning when I went to give them their fodder the girls all ran up to me…first time those chickens have ever greeted me! Guess they like it.
In other more embarrassing news with the help of my mother and niece we put in 30+ posts for what will be the winter paddock in one afternoon. Not bad. But before its closed for winter I want to move Rosie in for a week (or more?) for weaning so I was working on a simple hoop house of t-posts, a tarp and cattle panel. And as I pounded in one of the last t posts of the day *bonk* somehow I hit myself in the head with the post pounder. How? I really, really do not know. But it hurt. And I look silly now.