Chickens are natural foragers. They love to peck around for tasty greens, and their eggs are higher in nutrients when they do. But what can you do for your flock when access to forage is limited, like when they’re cooped up, or in winter? You can grow foraging greens yourself, easily!
Sprouted seeds provide easy-to-digest energy, allow your flock access to fresh greens year ’round, and provide essential minerals, vitamins, and increased protein. All Henny+Roo subscribers received our new Omega-3 Poultry Forage Seeds in their October boxes, along with a screened lid that can be used with any standard mason jar (we’ll get to why those are handy in a minute). The seeds are certified organic, GMO-free, and selected for their high Omega-3 content.
The Henny+Roo flock enjoys sprouted seeds when the weather in the Chicago area gets cold and bugs and fresh greens are in short supply. While eating the seeds straight out of the bag is a nutritious and tasty treat, sprouting the seeds allows for easier digestion and absorption of nutrients – about 5-6 times the nutrients they’d receive if eating the whole seed.
We selected plants with a high Omega-3 content (rye seeds, flax seeds, red clover seeds, and alfalfa seeds) certified organic by Oregon Tilth. When your flock eats high Omega-3 plants, this essential nutrient is deposited into the yolks of their eggs. A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids helps your health by lowering triglycerides, lessening stiffness and joint pain, and lowering depression and inflammation (Reference).
How to sprout forage seeds indoors or out
Henny+Roo Poultry Forage Seeds can be used to grow nutrient rich plants in your yard, or sprouted indoors for a healthy treat.
If growing outdoors, plant after danger of frost by sprinkling seeds over soil and raking in. Keep the area moist until germination (5-10 days), then water regularly. Keep your chickens away from the newly seeded area until the plants are 2-5″ tall, because they will devour them! Allow chickens to eat the plants about halfway down. If you have horses, keep them away from this area, because flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost, and horses shouldn’t graze on it.
Indoors, in a jar
The first step, when sprouting seeds indoors, is to make sure your hands, the jar and screed lid you’ll use, and seeds are as clean as possible. Sanitizing the jar and screen lid will help prevent mold and fungus issues.
Rinse the seeds and place a few tablespoons of seeds in the jar (make sure they don’t take up more than a quarter of the jar; they will expand a great deal) and cover with a few inches of water, Screw the mesh lid onto the jar and soak for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.
Drain the seeds and rinse them, then drain again. Find an area out of direct sunlight and place the jars upside-down, but at an angle to allow drainage and air-circulation through the mesh. You can use a dish rack or just a bowl to keep the jar inverted.
Rinse and drain the seeds between two and four times a day, making sure that they never dry out completely.
After about 5 to 10 days the sprouts can be harvested and served to your flock. You can also grow a larger quantity at once by using a flat tray or dish and more seeds. The seeds should not take up more than 1/4 of whatever container you choose.
The Henny+Roo October Box
Henny+Roo subscribers – we hope you’re enjoying your October box! If you’re not a subscriber, you can order an October box without a subscription from our Shop while supplies last.
Happy sprouting! 🌱