Sprouting Grain for Farm Animals (Video)

How to sprout grain for animal feed

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…

1.) Milo

2.) Black Sunflower Seeds

3.) Oats

4.) Millet (white or red)

5.) Barley

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! 🙂

We use this set up when the temp is below 50 degrees



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  1. http://Roxann says

    how much of the sprouts do you feed your milk cow?

  2. http://Shell says

    Where do you get your Fish Meal? I am having a hard time locating any. My chickens are slackers on the egg laying and the really need the extra boost of protein!

  3. How much of the sprouted grain do you give your milk cow? We normally do 4 pounds of oats while we milks… I’m wondering if it would be about the same for this?

    • http://Rashel says

      We use those plastic scoops you get at the farm stores… two scoops… I’ve never weighed it 🙂 It’s really all up to you, you’ll use less grain if it’s sprouted. And it’ll digest better… more bang for your buck. It’ll make richer milk too.

  4. What are your proportions on this out of curiousity

  5. http://Heidi says

    Hi, Thanks so much for all your wonderful wisdom! I was just wondering about your supplements. How many parts per grain and seed are you using? Any idea of how much supplement you add to the 5 gallon buckets? Do you do this right before feeding the birds? Blessings to you and your wonderful family!

  6. Thank you for your site! Love all your information and recipes! We have a fly problem bad!! Do you have any help for fly control? I have been trying to sprout my grain in buckets outside but end up with maggots in my sprouts. Maybe put lids on my buckets?

    • http://Rashel says

      Yes bucket lids will help but not completely eliminate. We live in Texas and it get’s hot so we drilled little holes in the lid for ventilation and just have the lid floating on top, we don’t get a tight seal. If you’re sprouting for poultry, don’t worry about maggots… think of it as an extra protein bonus, your chickens will thank you for the extra live insect protein. 😉

      Make sure to flip your grain once a day… that’ll help as well.

  7. http://molly%20schultz says
  8. http://molly%20schultz says

    Hi Rashel,

    What a fantastic site. What you are doing is so inspiring! I’ve been reasearching sprouting grains for our livestock and came across this information about sprouting Milo. Apparently it produces a toxic chemical called dhurrin which will kill birds. I know there is a ton of info online, much of it conflicting. I just wanted to pass this on your way so you could read and decide for yourself. We are a homesteading family with 8 kids in Tn and WPF ers as well. THanks for your great site and all the info!
    Molly Schultz

    • Molly,
      Glad you’re enjoying our site. How amazing that you have 8 kids! You must be super-mom!

      We’ve been feeding sprouted milo as one of our 6 grains for three years. We haven’t had any issues with killing birds or sick birds. On the contrary, everyone who visits our farm comments on the health and vitality of our birds. We keep around 30 chickens and 30 to 45 turkeys year round. It’s never been an issue. I looked into milo on the internet and came up with a study out of Texas A&M which fed exclusively sprouted milo to broilers and it didn’t kill or injure the birds. Studies aside, adding sprouted milo to our feed mix has worked well for us and is also an inexpensive grain.

      How awesome that y’all are also WAPf’ers! We owe many thanks to Sally Fallon and the whole foundation for making the information available about traditional eating! It changed our lives.
      Rashel H.

      • http://molly%20schultz says

        I am glad you looked into it! Like I said, I know there is all sorts of conflicting info out there. Your chickens certainly do look healthy.. can’t argue with that,LOL!! And no, I’m not super-mom. Just a fallen sinner saved by grace and walking in the light! Many blessings!

  9. http://Kelly says

    Do you use blackstrap molasses?

  10. http://Heather says

    Hi Rashel,

    Thanks so much for the video and info. I found you on youtube.
    I’ve been sprouting wheat and BOSS for a few years as a side supplement to their organic soy-free feed. I would like to switch to just sprouts and supplements. How many parts per grain and seed are you using? Also, you had various supplements in your storage bins. Besides kelp, what else are you using? Our chickens free-range in a large pasture with llamas, but all of the grass is now gone. We tried to re-seed last fall and the chickens ate all of the seed. I’ll need to supplement until we can fence another pasture for rotation.


  11. http://Nancy%20Sanders says

    Hi Rashel!

    We are a Christian family, also WPF’ers and are trying to extend our traditional practices to our animals! We’re having a hard time figuring out specific recipes and amounts for sprouted grain…could you help us out?
    –Did you make up your own recipe or get it from someone else?
    –You feed your chickens as much as they want…what is the ballpark amount of your grain mix that they eat each day per bird?
    –Do you increase that amount in the winter?
    –How much grain do your milk cow and cattle get? I assume they also get hay, especially in winter?

    Thanks so much!


  12. we sprouted our grains for our chickens and were partially successful. we had a problem with our corn(did not sprout) and to lesser extent with our field peas. any suggestions? what is the optimum temperature for sprouting. we live in vt and sprouting out doors is out of the question this time of the year. so, we sprouted indoors with the aid of a heat lamp. perhaps there was too much heat.

    thanks~~ ted for roberta

  13. Rashel,
    I am so grateful for all of the time you have taken answering my questions. The grain is in the bucket soaking and, thanks to you, I think I finally have this down. Where do you purchase the vitamin D that you say you add by the handful?

    Thank you again.

    • http://Rashel%20Harris says

      I use fetrells nutrabalancer for poultry. However, I think if you use kelp I’d cover your bases. Especially if your poultry have access to pasture. Chickens will find what they need on their own. When you really new to watch the feed mix is when they’re locked up 24/7.


  14. Oh, Rashel you are probably going to be sorry that I found this your site. . .too m any questions. . .
    What about storing the unused portion of sprouted grain? The buckets are too big for the fridge Hee Hee!

    • I only sprout what I can use. It has a limited life and will mold and spoil. I keep a continue rotation of buckets going.

  15. Sorry. . .one more question: how do you know how much to feed when not using ground food?


    • For our poultry then eat until they’re done. Free feed. They have all day access to pastures and where every they want to go and in our experience if you have good breeds they’ll eat what they need and quit. If it’s for horses or cows, I’d portion it otherwise they’ll bloat themselves.

  16. Rashel,
    Could you please tell me after you soak and drain your sprouts for the chickens, do you simply keep alternating the bucket WITHOUT rinsing the sprouts again or do you rinse?

    Thank you so very much for your time.

    • yes, I keep alternating the buckets every day. If they dried out you can spray them with water to moisten them again.

  17. http://chris says

    Do you start your chicks out on whole sprouted grains? Also, how many pounds of grain did each bird need from birth to processing? We are thinking about raising some freedom rangers chicks. I already sprout grain for our family and our cow, goats, and chickens but we would like to raise some broilers on sprouted grain.

    • Yes, the small birds will eat the millet, milo etc small grains well sprouted. I have no idea how much grain they go through from birth to processing. I really dislike freedom rangers, red rangers, cornish cross or any hybrid breed of bird that can’t reproduce well. I explain this more in my post on eating turkey instead of fast growing meat chickens. Check out my archive.


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