Is anyone doing this? I'm not talking about grain that sprouts accidently and could be moldy...
I'm talking about intentionally sprouting the grain on a routine basis and feeding it fresh.
I've been doing some reading about it and it makes sense...
In the same way that sprouted grains are more readily digested by humans, livestock also benefit.
I was wondering if you're doing this, what grains/seeds you choose, and how you set up for sprouting on a larger scale.
I went out and bought several yards of a small weave fabric net that I'm going to sew up into large, drawstring sacks. I'm setting up some 5 gallon buckets to use for soaking/dunking the seeds twice a day, and then the bag will hang to drip dry. Each sack holds about a 1 lb coffee can size scoop of seed.
Best I've figured, the seeds need one day of soaking and then five days
of dipping twice daily to grow to a good level of maturity.
I'm starting this experiment by using wild bird seed mix and corn, and I'm feeding this to the chickens. It's working great so far.
I'm going to try it out on the sheep next.
I'm guess the soaking and dipping water would be a good base to use for compost tea.
Many years ago, I saw a demonstration of this at the Los Angeles County Fair. They had a refrigerator-sized sprouting cabinet that held quite a few trays and were filled with grain. The grains were kept moist with a misting system. The first tray on top had the newest grain, then went downward to the bottom where fully sprouted grains were removed, cut into serving sizes and fed to livestock. I believe they were using rye, a very quick-germinating seed. The theory was that the roots held many nutrients not present in the bare seed and would be much superior for the animal. It was being pushed for the horse industry at the time, particularly the racing circle. I watched for it to catch on, but never saw anything else about it.(This was at least 25-30 years ago!)
I've sprouted seed for my rabbits and chickens during the winter when greenery was sparce. It was appreciated, but I'm not sure there was much advantage nutritionally.
Here are a couple of links. I would like to do this, and planned on starting this winter, but as many other things, it just didn't happen. We like to eat sprouts ourselves, and feel like it would be better for the animals as well.
I just read on a rabbit site about someone who did some research and decided that all you really need to do is soak the grain for 8 hours or so, that this soak releases the enzymes (?) that are so beneficial, this way not only is it easier but you don't have to worry about molding issues. I try to back track myself and find that site for you look at. Liese
Those were interesting links. It amazes me that you two managed to come up with both ends of the spectrum for us to look at: should we feed just germinated seed, or adopt the greenhouse method that actually grows the seed out to grass.
It seems there have to be benefits at all stages of the process. I wish there were more studies about this. We need a biologist out there to help us out here!
For instance, the germinating article contends that feeding early in the process prevents enzymes from being washed away. That makes sense to me. There is only so much "food" inside that seed. At some point growth becomes dependent on outside sources of nutrients.
On the other hand, my instinct is telling me that chlorophyll has to be significant in some way. What and how much, though? Would taking it to the "chlorophyll stage" balance out the enzymes lost in rinse water? Or be worth the additional hassle?
Can there be too much enzyme? I'm thinking that in nature, birds would naturally find and eat large quantities of just germinated seed, so their digestive systems should be ideal for this food.
But I wonder about rabbits and livestock.
Grazing doesn't allow them to pick out large quantities of seed from the ground, so would taking the sprout process further be more "natural" for their digestive systems?
I noticed gccrook's greenhouse link states they convert 10 lbs of grain into 65 lb of grass feed, and that is compelling! But how much additional input of nutrients is required to get to that stage of growth, I wonder?
The following article clip discusses just a few more benefits of feeding sprouted grain/seeds. (Unfortunately, it doesn't reveal the stage of growth that these beneficial conversions take place.)
Source: "Organic Cows: Healthy Approaches and Treatments--" by Paul Bransky
"Sprouting converts grain starches into more digestible NDSF sugars. "The rumen can't handle starch to the extent we think it can," he said...Randleigh started sprouting because in autopsies of cows who had ketosis "they found their lymph nodes were congested with starch. When they fed their cows corn sugar instead of corn grain, they got rid of all the ketosis. So they knew it was a starch factor."
... In 2000 Brunetti sprouted wheat, corn, oats, barley, buckwheat, rye, sunflowers over 3-5 days and analyzed them. "We saw a huge movement of protein to be less soluble; we actually created bypass protein," he said. "What else happened is we got rid of the enzyme inhibitors." Enzyme inhibitors protect seeds from germinating in a hostile environment, but they also inhibit metabolic enzymes in the digestive systems of animals and humans.
Sprouting also removes phytic acid, a mineral inhibitor...
My chickens sure love sprouts and it keeps those yokes that bright color you get in the summer when they are eating grass.
I would imagine it has never caught on for large animals because it is labor intensive in that you really need to watch it and be sure you aren't feeding molds. In the house if I don't rinse really regularly, sprouts sour fast. I can not imagine how you would not have the same problem on a larger scale. My chickens aren't too fussy, but any cow or goat or rabbit I have ever had are a little more discerning.
http://www.smallfarms.net/growingfodder.htm Here's another one for cattle. But they are using lots of water, the system also relies on fuel. Seems like they are making some compromises that for a smaller system could be circumvented. Or if just germinating the seed, rather than sprouting gives the same benefit-it would be even easier.
Your point about ruminants not naturally foraging for just germinated seeds-well, naturally they didn't eat much quantities of corn, soybean meal, oats or barley either but we feed that to them in a dry state, right? Course, if we wanted to make a study we would have 3 groups; 1 fed germinated, 1 fed sprouted and 1 fed dry grains. Hey, Minnikin why don't you do a SHARE study? If approved, I believe it even comes with funding...maybe. I'm going to call around to see if I can find some barley to soak, I have sheep & dairy goats. Will let you know how it goes.
Course, if we wanted to make a study we would have 3 groups; 1 fed germinated, 1 fed sprouted and 1 fed dry grains. Hey, Minnikin why don't you do a SHARE study? If approved, I believe it even comes with funding...maybe. I'm going to call around to see if I can find some barley to soak, I have sheep & dairy goats. Will let you know how it goes.
This is a great thread and I'm bumping it up to get more input from those who might have missed it last time around. We just bought 40 kg. (88 pounds) of barley and of wheat as winter feed for our geese, chickens and rabbits. I also feed the rabbits alfalfa hay and as many fresh foods as I can. I experimented with sprouts last year and all the critters liked them, so this year we're going to try it on a larger scale. I think I will feed most of them just germinated but may grow out some to green sprouts for variety.
I'd love to hear some feedback from the original participants of this thread about how it went and how their animals fared on the germinated grains and/or sprouts.
Thanks for the links, Cowcreekgeeks and Wags. Very interesting information, but they are very sketchy about details of water and temperature requirements. Looks like I will have to do some serious experimenting!
After Y2K didn't happen, we had folks give us several barrels of wheat. We ended up soaking the wheat in water and letting it sit for about a week. When it started to ferment, we fed it to our butcher hogs. They loved it! They grew really well on it too.
We called it "wheat beer". You sure didn't want to spill any on yourself - can you say, "frat room?" LOL
I wouldn't feed the above to my goats, but am intrigued to try sprouted grains. The OP idea sounds fairly simple and easy to do... Might have to try it. Thanks for such an interesting topic!