Any farmer or homesteader knows all too well how much it can cost to feed the very livestock that feeds them or furnishes them with milk, leather, and more.
After a while, this can become tiresome and quickly add up, so finding ways to save money is kind of a huge deal and an important one.
Sprouting fodders are essentially a system that grows plants, grass, and more, giving your livestock something to eat rather than expensive conventional feed.
Plus, it can help your livestock access healthier food, as store-bought feed isn’t always the healthiest.
Since sprouting fodder is such a good and inexpensive investment, we wanted to cover a few benefits of having one; let’s jump in.
Benefits to Sprouting Fodder for Livestock
It’s Easy To Start
Sprouting fodders are very easy to start, requiring only a few pieces of wood, a base, and seeds, or your preferred material.
To start, choose an area to grow the seeds, such as a greenhouse or in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. Build or use a structure of around 6 inches deep and as wide and long as you’d like.
Soak the seeds in a bucket for roughly 12 hours, then place the seeds evenly throughout the structure, with a bed underneath if placed on the ground.
After a few days, the seeds will begin growing and should be ready after a week, depending on what seed you use.
That’s it; there isn’t much to it, though you may need a few tools. After the grass has matured, break it down and feed it to the livestock.
If you plan on doing this long-term, I recommend having more than a few setups to make sure you always have a fresh supply ready to go.
Saves Money on Feed
Livestock feed, depending on how many animals you have, can cost an arm and a leg.
Often, cows, pigs, and other animals eat out of plain boredom, which is where sprouting fodders shine.
A sprouting fodder makes for the perfect “snack” for in-between meals, saving the livestock from eating their primary food instead of the fodder.
Moreover, if the sprouting fodder is big enough in square footage, it may be enough to replace some meals that would otherwise be regular feed, saving even more money.
Plus, this saves money on watering larger fields that may be in a drought area.
Provides A Healthy Food
Some of the feed fed to cattle, pigs, and goats are full of preservatives, is nutrient lacking, or just plain out unhealthy.
Sprouting fodders provide the perfect mixture of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins to any livestock eating it. In some areas, grass isn’t as available to be eaten, making fodder perfect.
They’re also great for passive water consumption, as the grass will supply small amounts of water to the livestock, as long as it’s watered regularly, keeping the animals cool.
There is a reason why there are so many herbivores and why they have few health concerns; they eat healthy food.
It’s Great For Cattle
A sprouting fodder can help cows produce more and higher quality milk. Plus, the nutrients help the cows grow into healthier, leaner food sources.
Moreover, if there is a drought, the fodder can help supply food when all else fails as it’s easier to water.
However, if it’s going to be a primary food source for the cattle, you will need a lot of fodder, and I mean a lot.
You may consider choosing a cookie-cutter style that’s inexpensive and stay with that style for each fodder. Plastic works well and is cheap but will break down over time.
You may also consider putting a different kind of seed in each fodder, which will diversify the cow’s diet.
You Can Use Any Seed
Since fodders are simply a place to grow seeds, any seed that can grow in water can grow in a fodder.
Wheatgrass is one of the best, but you can also grow seeds such as buckwheat, ryegrass, barley, pearl millet, and alfalfa.
Other seeds work great as well, so it may take some trial and error before you get it right.
Some seeds may take longer to fully sprout, though, which is why wheatgrass and ryegrass are my top two suggestions.
Also, remember that some seeds may sprout better and or faster during certain seasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Fodder Does A Cow Need?
If you plan on using fodder for cattle, you’ll need to aim for at least 10% of the cow’s body weight. So, if the cow weighs 1,000 pounds, you’ll need 100 pounds per day.
This may seem like a lot, and it is, but if you have plenty of fodder growing at all times, then this should not be an issue.
Just make sure you plan and grow more than you need. Chances are, the cattle will eat up as much as you give them.
Can I Use Fodder For Chickens?
Using fodder for a chicken feed is ideal, as it will save you money while also giving the birds a healthier diet.
Fodder may also improve the quality of the eggs produced, and raise the chances of fertilization if that’s what you’re looking for.
The best fodder for chicken fodders is wheatgrass, oats, and ryegrass. However, just about any grass will work; chickens love everything.
What About Lighting?
The most optimal scenario is by using natural sunlight. This will help promote a healthier, richer result. However, human-made light can be used too.
It needs to be bright and reach every crevice of the surface areas; ambient light does not rotate as our sun does.
Ambient light can work nearly as well, but you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of it. Also, note that there are options for energy-saving lights that can tackle this job for you.
Sprouting fodder is one of the best passive ways to grow feed for livestock. They come in many shapes and forms, so that is ultimately up to you.
The build can be in a small plastic tote or inside anything that can hold moisture and keep pests out.
The result will be a healthier flock of animals, more money in your pocket, and better quality meat and eggs.
Just keep in mind that fodder can go quick if you’re using it for heavier livestock like cattle. So, make sure you grow plenty of it.
Luckily, this should not be a problem as the process is cheap and easy.