Hi all! First, I would like to ask that my thread not become a debate about growing fodder. We have decided to use it, and if you would like to debate or read a good debate, please go to this HT thread.
My purpose with this thread is to show what we used for materials, how it's working, etc.
Our unit is completely manual - no pump.
We purchased a plastic shelving unit at Home Depot for 37.99 plus tax. We purchased 16 plastic shoebox sized Sterlite boxes at .97 cents each. We purchased three water collection tubs, at a total of about 10 dollars. We had the 3/4 inch pvc pipe on hand already, as well as the screws.
The grain: the first bag I got was wheat berries from WalMart, 25# for 13.98. Then, we were delighted to find a local feed store sells barley for 13.99 for 50#. So in the future we may, for costs' sake, do only the barley.
Grain costs if we use only barley, will be approx. 17.5 cents per tub. Total cost for our set up including tax (but not counting the grain): 68.27
DH screwed the pvc pipe sections to the shelves. This created the lift needed for drainage and at the same time, keeps any tubs from sliding off the shelf. He also removed sections of the shelf under where the drainage holes in the tubs sit, so as to avoid splashing. The tubs have 2 holes drilled and the tubs sit with those holes alternating.
Today is day 6. I soak the grain the night before. In the morning I rinse it, place it into two tubs. I pour fresh water onto the top four tubs about 3 times a day. The water is collected on the bottom shelf in tubs. I pour off this water once or twice a day.
If you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them!
The dry barley grain:
The collection tubs at the bottom:
Some shelf part removed to reduced splashing. Holes in tubs line up with the black marker line you see on the tub. This makes it easier for me to know they are lined up with the extra opening:
I will begin feeding two tubs a day tomorrow! We have 2 goats and 10 chickens. I will only give a small amount at first to the goats so as not to cause digestive upset.
Update: Ok, my two old stubborn Nubians will not eat the fodder. Tried smearing canned pumpkin on it, and also, peanut butter. They are not going for it. This is no problem, I had not really planned for it to be a major change for them anyway.
The chickens are going mad for the stuff and I have reduced the morning scoop of feed in half. They mob me for the stuff when I walk in! I am hoping we might be able to do a pig, and will use the fodder as a supplement.
When I cut the mat up it smells so good. Also, as the water is draining thru the tubs, it sounds like a rain forest in there. It's quite delightful.
Anyhoo, it is going very well. No mold, no smells. I am loving it. I reduced the growing to one tub per day for just the chickens since the goats are obviously not going to participate!
On some days I put the oldest tub under our grow lights for the day and it really greens up.
1. The holes were created by DH - he actually heated up a metal coat hanger and pushed it thru! They are located at the ends of the box. In the case of these boxes there is a little groove around the inside edges.
He poked four holes total, two in the bottom at the end, and two in what I will call the wall of the tub.
2. I just weighed a fully grown tub, and it is (just the grass) 2 lbs. 8125 oz. This tub is a bit older as I still have extras from when I changed to starting just one tub per day.
3. I use about 9.8 oz. of grain per tub. Note, I am using a 50/50 mix of barley and wheat right now. One or the other may be heavier, so of course if you're doing only a single grain, this may change.
4. Right now I estimate the low temp in that room gets about 56F at night. The high about 70. Humidity ranges from 50% to about 53%.
Misc. notes: I wash the water collection tubs once a week, they begin to get a film on them. I use fresh water with every rinse. We do have well water.
There are often times small sections of a tub that don't send up grass shoots as much as other areas, and we have figured this is due to the water movement or air flow or some such. They do sprout though, and I consider those balder spots just as good for the animals.
I now rinse about 4 times per day. I simply pour about a half gallon water into each of the top four tubs, four times per day.
Update - we have our first mold. The white stuff. It was in two tubs, and both of those tubs were seeded the same day.
So I will now add a drop of bleach to the soak water and a drop per gallon to the rinse water. I have been very careful to be clean since the beginning, but mold is everywhere and a common problem with fodder as I understand. I will update later if the mold does not return.
You guys are really getting me interested in this. I started my first sprouts 3 days ago from a package of Mung beans my Sis sent me 4 years ago, They are growing really good. I'll be looking for a place to buy Barley. I need things like this in the winter, I get stir crazy. My Angora rabbits should really like this.
I have been doing fodder for several weeks now - I get a 5.3 to 1 ratio using wheat seeds (I can't find barley yet). No mold problems yet, but I do soak the seeds initially in water with a bit of bleach for 10 minutes before rinsing and soaking them for the 12 hours. I am using a different system, but am still figuring out how best to do it.
Here is a link to the system I am using, except I don't cover anything with plastic domes (I don't have any and everything is staying really moist anyway).. My temperature is about 64 degrees and I do use a grow light (bought a bulb on Amazon and put it in a regular lamp - link is below).
I toss a bunch of winter wheat out in the yard every fall but it is for my cats. They like it when it is short to munch on from time to time. When it is tall they hide in it. It's also fun when the neighbors try to guess what kind of "grass" I have since it is green all winter long.
We are thinking about ding this also. Will this be the only feed you give them? I am trying to get an idea if fodder can be a complete feed for laying hens as well as meat birds for us this spring. I understand that you need to add some calcium to layers and possibly some protein to the broilers. What you folks think?
Ok, I just have to comment on this. I've seen everyone talking about fodder lately and I've wanted to try. My only issue is being unable to find any wheat or barley. I basically slapped my forehead and said doh when you said you got your wheat at walmart! I'm pretty sure I've seen the big bags at my local walmart! So excited to give this a try sometime soon!
mrstillery09 - have you checked every feed store? We found only one of them that carried barley!
bubbas boys, I feed them lay crumbles, cracked corn and a tiny amount of black oil sunflower seeds, in addition to some oyster shell for calcium. I have simply cut back the amount of that feed now that they are also getting the fodder.
Nothing scientific here. I have not noticed any decline in egg production in the reduction of the commercial feed at all, but of course it's also Spring!
I am curious to know - now that you've built the system and are trying to make use of it - do you consider a fresh fodder system worthwhile? if so, why? I have debated it with multiple people, and see the pros and cons on both sides of the argument: a hydroponic fodder system is expensive; to the contrary, if you live in an area like I do where there have been years where feed has been next to impossible to acquire, and people have abandoned their livestock to die of starvation because they cannot find feed, or afford the feed that they can find, having a guaranteed source of feed is obviously worthwhile.
Also, some argue that the nutritional value of fresh fodder isn't much, if any, better than dry - particularly when you consider the weight of fresh fodder, being about 90% water; furthermore, there are as many calories in the barley seed as there are in an 8 day sprout; to the contrary, most of the livestock that would make use of fresh fodder have evolved to make the most of fresh grass, not seeds or hard, dried grass.
So do you find a hydroponic fodder system objectively worthwhile?