DIY fodder system

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by ditch witch, Feb 4, 2013.


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  1. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    My options for feeding my rabbits are limited and pricey here. Only two places carry actual "rabbit pellets". One is Squallmart, the other is Gebos. Both only have small bags which cost almost as much as a 50 pound bag from the feed store. Only one feed store carries rabbit pellets but it's dusty and cheap and I've gotten more than one bag that had some mold in it. The other just tells me to feed them straight alfalfa pellets, which I've been doing but it's acidified their urine something fierce.

    I saw this fodder system in the FarmTek catalog and just drooled, but at $3000 for the smallest system, it's hardly feasible for 8-10 rabbits. HOWEVER....

    I am going to see if I can build my own. I have an idea for a sort of self watering gutter system but for now I'm going way cheap until I see how the buns do on fodder over pellets. If it works the way I've figured, I should be able to ditch the pellets and just feed the fodder and dry hay. Got it started, and so far so good using winter wheat, gallon water jugs, and a greenhouse flat.

    1. 2.
     
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  2. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    Here's some pics I've collected off other folks who are trying their own, at-home system, and some are feeding several head of dairy cows with it.

    day5. fodder12-29-11waffle. fodder12-29-11. fodder greenhouse. oatsshelf.
     
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  3. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    Another DIY one, large scale.

     
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  4. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    AND another DIY, this one is long.
     
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  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor Site Supporter+

    My only comment would be that; rabbits like many animals including man may have adverse reaction to different/odd foods for them. It can give them severe disentary to the point of dehydration and possible death. Changes should be gradual. This super food fodder should be a treat to start with, then maybe 1/4 of their food, then half etc until you have them weaned off their old food and onto the new food. I know I have read this with regard to rabbits. I can't give you a source. There is nothing wrong with my memory however. Look into it, research it, or just do what you will. I just wanted to warn you of possible consequences. Best of luck with the project.
     
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  6. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    I got 75 pounds of alfalfa pellets to go before I can switch 'em over completely. Didn't mean to give the impression I was going to make such a massive change overnight. But thanks for the warning, and no worries on the source. It's kinda common sense. ;)
     
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  7. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    So here's day three and four. I know it's kinda lame but I'm all giggly about it. *I* think it's pretty cool.


    day3. day4.
     
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  8. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    Day five and six, plus of the whole "system". I'm thinking tomorrow I can pull the first batch out and feed it. It's crazy how fast it's grown! The early trays were 3 handfuls of wheat seed, while the later ones were down to 2.5 or just 2. I'm thinking 2 handfuls is enough as it really bulks up fast and I'm a little worried about rot when it gets that thick. I've been spraying it under the kitchen faucet 3-4 times a day, and on the first few days propping them on an angle to drain better and covering them with a dishtowel. Days 4-6 are out in the open to catch some light from a northeast facing window.


    day5. day6. diy fodder system. 6days.
     
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  9. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    Feedin' time! :D
    Normally I give them scrap veggies every day but today they're getting wheat grass instead. So far Lola, Leroy Brown, Brandy (she's a fine girl) and Black Betty all give it a thumbs up. ROOOOOXanne gave me the red light but she hates me and will wait until I'm out of sight before she comes out of her nest box anyway.

    morning of day 7. cut to serve. lola.
     
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  10. have you seen videos by larry hall? the float is the costly part maybe a swamp cooler float would be cheaper.

    I bet they will love that better than pellet and way healthier
     
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  11. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    replying to see if it unsticks the thread
     
  12. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Damn....another childhood ideal broken. I thought all this time that rabbits ate carrots and clover.
     
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  13. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    I'm still waitin' for mine to drop some Cadbury Eggs.
     
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  14. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    The ones with caramel? That would be detrimental to my health. I don't eat sweets, but when I do--it has caramel in it (or butterscotch).
     
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  15. Kirsten

    Kirsten Monkey

    If you would like more ideas or need components go to half pint homestead.com where i get my feed the mirco would pay for its self in two months for two rabbits
     
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  16. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    Brilliant. It looks like it works great
     
  17. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator

    Great thread. Sprouting is very nutritious and I like the method used. I know that @Ganado has done a series on sprouting for human consumption. I like the recycling of the milk jugs to use as equipment for sprouting.
     
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  18. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    We grow fodder for our chickens in the winter to give them something green to eat....they seem to love it. I've used barley and wheat, but use mostly wheat since it's the easiest to get.

    I used Rubbermaid dish busing trays, drilling a bunch of holes in one end of the tray to drain the water from them.

    I built a rack on casters I keep in the basement, it holds 10 trays (added 2 more after these pics), which seems to be about the number of days it takes to grow a full tray. The rack has a large black plastic pan (mortar mixing pan from Lowe's) filled with water, in the base with a small pump on a timer. I set it to run 15min every 6 hours, so 4 times/day the trays get watered automatically.

    The trays are on wood slides, sloped in opposite directions on each level so the water drains from top into the next level, and so on, back into the base pan. The "h" is for the end with the holes.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The pump in the base pan runs to a copper line up the back, to a T in the top with holes drilled in it.
    [​IMG]

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  19. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    HIGH TECH FODER SYSTEM
    Quartz Ridge Fodder System 2.0
    [​IMG]


    LOWTECH FODER SYSTEM

    Sprouting fodder for livestock is similar to sprouting seeds for human consumption, but in an extreme degree. Think more along the lines of sprouting wheatgrass than the little bean sprouts you would put on a sandwich. By sprouting grain and harvesting it (feeding it to your animals) right before the sprouts get their second leaves at about 7-10 days, you do not need to use anything more than water to grow them –not even fertilizer. The action of sprouting amplifies the natural proteins, vitamins, mineral, enzymatic activity, omega 3’s, amino acids, natural hormones, and stimulates immune response. Of course the increase in these wonderful benefits varies grain to grain.


    The sprouted fodder, no matter what seed or grain you choose to use, is fed whole; greens, seeds, and sprouts as a whole. Commonly used grains for fodder are barley, wheat, and whole oats. Barley, which is the easiest to grow, has a crude protein percentage of 12.7 percent and a crude fiber percentage of 5.4 percent as a seed. These percentages jump to a crude protein percentage of 15.5 percent and a crude fiber percentage of 14.1 percent after an average of seven days of sprouting. By sprouting, the digestibility of the grain increases from 40 percent to 80 percent so livestock will not need to consume as much fodder compared to commercial feed because they are obtaining more nutrition from a smaller volume of feed.*

    As far as setting up your own fodder sprouting system, there are many options out there for purchase. The only problem you will run into is that there are no fodder sprouting systems for smaller operations, like say, a homestead where you only have one horse, or a few goats, or a small herd of rabbits, or a modestly sized flock of chickens. For us, you will be left to build your own. But no worries folks! A system can easily be set up using materials you already have laying around or using items from the local discount or dollar store. You’re in good hands here DIY’ers.


    HOW MUCH FODDER DO YOU NEED TO GROW

    Here is a rough estimate for the more common homestead animals, but please do your own research on feed amounts and if necessary, consult your veterinarian. As any responsible animal or livestock caretaker, you will not only need to transition your animals onto fresh fodder, you will need to monitor their growth and maintenance rates to keep them in a healthy condition while you get used to feeding fodder. One month is a good amount of time to transition your animals to fodder. Ruminants especially need a few weeks to adjust their gut flora and rumen to new feed. Some animals will also require roughage or mineral supplements. Please only use these amounts as a guide.

    • Horse: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; 1.5% body weight in dry hay

    • Beef Cow: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

    • Dairy Cow: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration

    • Sheep: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

    • Goat: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

    • Dairy Goat: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations

    • Alpaca: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration

    • Pig: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder

    • Rabbit: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration for roughage

    • Chicken: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; grit and calcium supplements


    ITEMS YOU NEED

    • 2” deep trays (look for inexpensive baking pans or dish pans at your local dollar store) with a moderate amount of small holes drilled in the bottom.[​IMG]

    • bulk bag of untreated, feed grade, whole grain seed; barley, wheat, or oats (oats are the more difficult of the three common grain seeds to sprout and is more prone to mold)

    • large bucket

    • rack or shelf to keep your trays of seed on

    Optional: water pump and hose to re-circulate the water used. Should you choose to recirculate the used water, I would recommend adding a quality water filter.

    For the best growing results, I recommend that the temperature of your fodder system stays between 63 degrees F and 75 degrees F. The fodder can be grown with only ambient light, so although grow lights or direct sunlight can and will benefit your fodder, direct light is not necessary.

    Mold is the most common problem reported in growing sprouted grains. To prevent mold:[​IMG]

    • Be sure to rinse your grain very well before soaking. Your soaking water should be clean and clear of any dirt, debris, or empty husks.

    • Add a 1% vinegar solution to the soak water. As a general measurement, you may use 1-2 teaspoons per gallon of water. The solution is just enough vinegar to kill most mold spores, but not the grain itself.

    • Be sure to provide adequate air circulation

    • Keep the sprouting fodder between 63 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler or warmer may result in pests, mold, and stunted growth.

    • Clean all of your supplies and trays very well with vinegar or bleach.


    When setting up a rack to put your sprouted fodder trays on, keep in mind that the rack will likely become wet during watering. A simple metal “storage” rack would be wonderful to use especially if a plastic tub of some sort can be placed underneath to catch any water poured through the system. Arrange the fodder trays so that the level below is lined up to catch any water from the tray above. Another good idea would be to drill holes in one side of each tray and then raise the un-draining side by about 1-2 inches. Alternate which side is raised on each consecutive level so that the first tray drains into the second tray, the second tray drains into the third, and so on. You can pour water from a bucket into the first trays or you could set up a small fountain pump on a timer with a hose leading to the top trays to water all of your fodder. Good air circulation is key to keeping mold from growing in your fodder so choose a location for your system that receives plenty of fresh air.[​IMG]


    Here is an easy system to follow:

    (Remember: in order to keep your sprouted fodder growing in a cycle for fresh fodder every day, be sure to start a new batch of seeds every day. )

    Step 1: Soak the needed amount of dry seed/grain in a large bucket. Fill the bucket with cool water at least two inches above the seeds. Allow the seeds to soak for 12-24 hours or even overnight. A shorter soak time may result in less seeds germinated.

    Step 2: After the seeds have soaked, drain the water and dump the seeds into the appropriate amount of trays. The seeds should never exceed 1/2 inch deep otherwise mold may develop due to poor air circulation.

    Step 3: Rinse or water each tray 2-3 times daily. The goal is to provide water for growth, but not allow standing water in the trays. Be sure after watering that each tray has drained well.

    Repeat Step 3 for seven to nine days depending on the growth. Ideally, you will have about six inches of growth by day nine. Growth is very dependant on temperature and water.

    Step 4: Harvest! Flip your tray over or pull the fodder from the tray and feel confident that you are feeding your animals a more natural feed! Feed the sprouted fodder whole; greens, seeds, and root mat. Because how densely the root mat that develops over the nine days, the fodder can be cut into serving portions with a box-cutter or knife much like a roll of housing carpet.

    It really is that simple to grow sprouted fodder for your livestock. Just soak, drain, water and harvest! The most complicated element of this system will be sourcing grain or seeds to use. Of course if you have a local farm supply store, feed supply store, or local grain mill, it will be the most likely place to find seeds to use. Alternatively, seeds or grain in bulk can be found from online resources like Azure Standard, Tractor Supply Company, and state grain mills. A simple google search will probably find just what you need.

    * Source: Cuddeford (1989), based on data obtained by Peer and Leeson (1985).[​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator

    Awesome set up @TnAndy and I appreciate the info @Ganado.

    This is one problem that I had. Mold. I had two small batches that developed mold. I tried sprouting inn Mason jars but that seems like a trendy way that has flaws. The local health food store sells vented tops to put on your Mason jars in the sprouting section but there is no drainage.
     
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