Why Sprouted Grains are Good for Your Chickens

Sprouted grains provide easy-to-digest energy, allow your flock access to fresh greens even in winter, and provide essential minerals, vitamins, and increased protein. But what are sprouted grains, and how can you make them yourself?

The Henny & Roo flock enjoys sprouted grains when the weather in the Chicago area gets cold and bugs and fresh greens are in short supply. We’re thrilled to partner with Scratch and Peck Feeds to include a 1 pound bag of organic whole barley in our January subscription boxes for backyard chicken keepers (order your subscription or one time box for yourself or your favorite chicken keeper)!

Sprouting grains allows for easier digestion and absorption of nutrients, about 5-6 times the nutrients they’d receive if eating the whole grain.

In addition to being super healthy, it’s a fun boredom buster for to your flock that may be cooped up more often due to weather.

High-nutrient feed means high-nutrient eggs, so spouting grains has benefits for you too. You’ll likely see your hens pick up production a bit, and you might notice a more deeper yellow yolk.

Ready to give it a try? Sprouting grains is super easy, and we thank Scratch and Peck Feeds for sharing their method:

Step 1: Sourcing – Not All Whole Grains Are Created Equal!

Like with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to whole grain quality. There are grains specific to sprouting for human consumption, others may have a viability guarantee, there are even grains treated with chemicals like antimicrobials or fungicides that should not be used for anything except direct plantings. The best choice for sprouting or growing will always be Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Organic seeds and whole grains (and that’s exactly what you’ll get in your January Henny & Roo box).

Step 2: Disinfecting – Clean Hands, Grains and Containers

To help prevent mold and fungus issues later on, the most important step is making sure your hands, the containers used and the whole grains themselves are as clean as possible. Before working with them, make sure you are prepped and ready with clean hands and sterilized sprouting containers.

Whether growing sprouts or fodder, it is recommended to sort through the whole grains for any foreign items, even before rinsing or soaking.

Barley Whole Grains from Scratch and Peck Feeds

Step 3: Hydration – Initial Rinse and Soak

Dry whole grains are considered dormant until exposed to enough water to fully absorb and soften the shell for sprouting. After rinsing and draining them, add them to a container able to fit all the whole grains plus 2-3 times the amount of water, along with providing room for the grains to expand as they absorb water. When rinsing or soaking, too much water will never be a problem – however, issues can occur if not enough water is used or if they are soaked too long. Each grain soaking time will vary with most ranging between 8-12 hours. For example, legumes like beans and peas are recommended to be soaked 8-12 hours, while the suggestion for grains like wheat and barley is about 6-12 hours.

Step 4: Maintenance – Rinse, Drain and Repeat

Once the grains have finished soaking, rinse and thoroughly drain before adding to the chosen container. For smaller sprouting projects, a quart mason jar may work just fine, while a larger fodder production will need trays of some sort. Whatever container is chosen, drainage is crucial! Some people may even choose to drill holes in a flat seed tray or tub with a tray underneath to prevent standing water in their containers. If a mason jar is used, it is best to cover the mouth with cheesecloth and turn it upside down to continue draining in between rinses. When using trays, it is best to keep the grains at a depth no more than ½” to help with air circulation and drainage.

Henny & Roo fodder

Place your sprouting or fodder container in an area with some light, but no direct sunlight at about 60-75 degrees. Do not put the container in a cupboard due to stale air issues – air flow is important to prevent mold and fungus from developing.

Every 8-12 hours, rinse the sprouts with clean, cold water several times and then drain as much water as possible. During this process, it is important to look for any discoloration among the sprouts that may be mold or fungus. Repeat the rinse and drain process until the sprouts or fodder reach the desired length – usually 3-5 days depending on seed or whole grain used.

On day two, we already see tiny sprouts!

Step 5: Feeding Frenzy – Who’s Hungry?!

Grab a handful of sprouts or break off a chunk of fodder to take out to your flock. Some people like to use a feeder to keep the sprouts contained – or even just toss them on the ground for your chickens to enjoy!

We’ve just started a new batch, and in a few days we’ll share how things are going. Until then, Henny & Roo subscribers – we hope you’re enjoying your December box! If you’re not a subscriber, learn more about our monthly supply deliveries for backyard chicken keepers.

Happy sprouting! 🌱

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