Here’s a video that shows our process of sprouting grain:
The reasons we sprout grain are three fold…
First, to increase the nutrients of the grain
- Neutralizes Phytates
- Destroys enzyme inhibitors
- Converts starch to sugar (better for ruminants)
- Increases enzymes, vitamin levels, amino acids, and fatty acids.
Second, to avoid a feed with genetically modified (GM) crops, corn and soy.
For more information on GM issues in our food system, visit Jeffrey Smith’s article “GMO Cover-Up article,
Third, the alternative to sprouting is cracked or rolled premixed feed in bags or bulk.
Sweet feed, poultry feed, chick starter, etc all have several issues. When grain is ground/cracked it has a determinate shelf life and will quickly go rancid. It can become rancid even before you buy it at the feed store and before it’s turned in to pellets or mixed in a bag.
Also, if you’re buying chick starter it’s almost impossible to find one without antibiotics.
Sprouting grain for animals is the same as sprouting for human consumption in your kitchen. The elements you’ll need to get a seed to sprout is the same in the garden… warmth and moisture. That’s it.
Here’s how we sprout our grain for our chickens and milk cows. There are as many methods to do this as there are people in this world. So if you figure out a better easier way… please let me know!
Step #1 Acquire grain
We recently found a Texas source for organic grain (Coyote Creek Feed Mill in Elgin, TX), but when we can’t get this, we just buy 50 pound bags of whole grain from our local feed store and avoid corn and soy.
The grains we use are…
2.) Black Sunflower Seeds
4.) Millet (white or red)
5.) Whatever other whole grains you want to do
Step #2 Put grains in a 5-gallon bucket, add a bit of salt (we use Sea-90) and fill with water.
Make sure water is above the grain. The grain will soak up a lot of water. Let it soak for about 6-12 hours. NO MORE THAN 12 HOURS. The grain doesn’t like to sprout as well if you soak if for more… and the animals won’t like it as much.
So if you start it in the morning… strain it in the evening. Or if you make it at night, strain it in the morning. You don’t have to be exact about it, but try and not let it go over 12 hours.
Step #3 Strain water
Pour the grains and water mixture, into another 5 gallon bucket that has many slits cut in the bottom. They’re vertical slits cut w/ a saw. The more slits the better, you want them to drain out the water and it gives a bit of oxygen at the bottom to prevent mold.
The water that comes out is great for gardens. It’s full of minerals and nutrients. Most of the time I’m too lazy to take it the 150 feet and pour it on the garden… but sometimes I do. If you don’t use it right away and let it sit around… it was reallllly starting to stink! Ask Andrew, he loves it when I leave it out. If you use it right away, it smells sweet and lovely.
Step #4 Turn grain
EVERY DAY you must pour the grain into a new bucket w/ slits. Reason… you don’t want the grain to mold. Sometimes, I’m lazy and skip a day, but then regret it because it’ll mold a bit. It also depends on the humidity and temperature if you can get away with not flipping them every day. Just flip them every day. They’ll sprout better. During the summer you’ll start to get sprouts by the second or third day. You can let them sprout for as long as you like. They just keep getting better.
We live in Texas… sprouting seeds is dependent on warmth and temperature… so here’s what we do in the winter... We bring the buckets in our barn and put chick brood heat lights over them.
In the summer, before it get’s too hot, they’re out in the sun. Then when the temperature is above 80, we move them under a tree for the shade. Otherwise you’d have to turn them twice a day to prevent mold.
Step #5 Add supplements
To a five gallon bucket full of sprouts we put in a handful of molasses, kelp, D.E, fish meal (for the chickens) and sometimes flax seed and mix.
Recently, we found a source for organic supplement with vitamins and amino acids, called Fertrell’s Nutri-balancer. We have two types, for the cows and one for the chickens. It’s got all the amino acids and vitamins that are missing from our feed mix. However, I’m not a huge fan of it, because just like human synthetic vitamins ( not from a whole food), it comes off a boat from China.
I guarantee you, your animals will LOVE this. I put conventional organic premixed grain or sweet feed out and every time, the animals choose the sprouts. No question, that’s what they’ll finish first. I give them a lot of credit, they’re pretty smart.
We’ve been doing this for about three years and we have the best eggs, chickens and cows we’ve ever seen, so we’ve continued sprouting even though we did find a premixed organic feed that’s easier to manage. We use that as a back up free choice. Our animals only eat it if we don’t get around to putting out the sprouts! 🙂