I started sprouting grains for my chooks last year, about this time. I read quite a bit about the process, and developed my own method. It wasn’t much trouble, but it did add a bit of time to the chores every day, more than I would have liked, and I had to keep the buckets of sprouting grains in a spot where there was fresh water available, that is to say, in the main family bathroom. Which wasn’t ideal (cough).
But I felt so great about feeding those sprouts to my little flock, I didn’t mind a bit of hillbilly tactics, even when I had to scramble to hide the buckets of sprouts when we had sudden, unexpected company. I wrote about it all here.
But then this winter I got busy (imagine that), working to get all the melodrama set painted early, so we could go watch my son-in-law-to-be, Saia, compete at Nationals in wrestling the weekend before our Show Week (insane notion, eh?) and so I cut some corners in my sprouting routine, and crossed my fingers, hoping it would work.
Guess what? My streamlined sprouting method works just as well as the more time-consuming method that I had been using. I’m a convert! I’m a convert to the easiest way of sprouting ever! To fermented and sprouting grains, I am a devotee, and so–lucky you, Gentle Reader--of course I will share it with you.
Before I tell you my streamlining secret, here’s a quick reminder of why sprouted grains are such a great addition to your flocks’ breakfast:
Here are the three reasons that I sprout grains for my chooks, and will continue to do so:
- Better nutrition: Did you know that if you let grains sprout, the protein content can jump by 50%, depending on the grain and other factors? Pretty neat trick!
- More grain for your money: the volume of the grains, as they swell up with water and sprout, increases. A half-bucket of dry grains becomes a three-quarters-full bucket of grains, just with the addition of warm water and time. I like the economy of that. It makes me feel smart and savvy. And I like feeling smart and savvy.
- Palatability: Anybody who feeds chickens will notice that fowl rarely clean up dry grains. Here’s something you may not realize: chickens don’t have teeth! Hard, slick grains can be tough for chickens to eat. But not soft, soaked ones.
- One more thing: Did I say three things? I meant four. Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of many minerals, and it also increases the vitamin content. Here’s a nifty fact: sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat. Cool, eh?
- Okay, so I actually meant five things: It takes only minutes a day. That’s it.
So here it is: The New and Improved Easiest Sprouting Method Ever, invented by (ta-daaa!) Yours Truly. (Who Enjoys Using Caps in Headings as Much as Possible.) (And is Smart and Savvy.) (And likes fiddling around with bold letters and italicizing things.)
1. First, buy your grains someplace where they don’t run them through a heated dryer. (Heated grains won’t sprout.) We are lucky that our local Coop will allow us to pull up a trailer full of large trash bins, hillbilly-like (I even have my banjo in the front seat with me, picking away) and they’ll fill them with their cool apparatus (you think I’m kidding about the banjo?), straight from the grain bin itself. (Bryan does the grinning.) (Actually he wears a very large hat and sunglasses. And a weird disguise. I’ve no idea why he does this.) (Hey, a girl has got to practice!) (Somebody stop me.)
2. Fill two or three 5-gallon buckets three-quarters-full of grains. Pour warm water into the bucket, just to cover. Too much water and the grains won’t absorb it all. Too little, and the grains on the top won’t sprout. It’s not brain surgery, but you’ll see that there is a perfect amount.
3. Let sit for 24 to 36 hours, in a warmish place. I haul mine down to the basement, so we aren’t tripping over them on the main floor. This extra step saves me my pride, when visitors stop by. Unless the kitty is in heat and is . . . er . . . doing her thing right in front of them, which is what would happen if you stopped by today.
4. Dump the soaked grains (once again, there shouldn’t be much–if any–water visible now) the next day into two or three fresh buckets. Each bucket should be about a third or half-full of soaked grains now. If the top grains are very dry, add just a bit more warm water. Reducing the bulk in each bucket allows the grains to grow more freely. (You can use dishpans, too, although then they aren’t quite as handy to haul out to the chicken yard.) If you have tons of buckets, you can reduce the amount even more–say, pour them only one-quarter-full, and you’ll have even more sprout growth.
5. Let sit in a warm(ish) place for two or three days. Every day, pick up your buckets one by one and jiggle them a bit, to separate the grains.
6. When you see the sprouts growing, your sprouts are ready to toss to your chickens! I’ve let them sit for up to a week, and those little sprouts just grow and grow. The handful of sprouts in the photo at the top of this post are probably 5 or 6 days old.
7. Just watch those chickens grin! 🙂
That’s it! Isn’t it easy? I’ve actually got a row of buckets of growing sprouts in my basement, enough feed for the next week or two. Yep. Who is smart and savvy?—-> 🙂 me
And now, by association, dear Gentle Reader, you are smart and savvy, too!
Now go. Get busy and sprout your grains, but before you do–could you take just a moment and share this post with somebody in your life who might benefit from it? And as always, thank you for reading and sharing!
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