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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Growing Sprouts for your Flock

I remember growing up as a kid my Mom would have jars of alfalfa and other types of sprouts up in the kitchen cupboard. Yes, it was the 70's and yes, she was into healthy eating (whole wheat bread, unsalted natural peanut butter and tofu) way before it was en vogue.  A woman ahead of her time, she inadvertently gave me an idea for healthy treats for our chickens this winter !

I've been trying to think of inexpensive, healthy treats for them since now with more than thirty chickens and ducks, it's just too expensive to buy them produce at the grocery store like I used to do when we only had eight. Turns out, sprouts are extremely nutritious and easy to grow.




If YOU have also been wondering what you can give to your flock for healthy treats this winter when they can't get out to forage, and when produce isn't plentiful, why not sprout some seeds or beans for them? It's inexpensive and give the chickens much-needed nutrition when they can't be out eating grass and weeds.

You can sprout all kinds of things: clover, alfalfa, mung beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, quinoa, radish, mustard seeds, grains, clover, oats, garbanzo beans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, among others. Check your local health food store or online for organic beans and seeds for sprouting.

(Caution: dried beans contain a toxin called hemaglutin and should never be fed RAW to chickens, however cooking or sprouting destroys the toxin. I would still suggest avoiding the larger beans such as lima, kidney and the like, and stick with grains, seeds and smaller beans like mung or lentil instead)

I recently sprouted some mung beans for our chickens. Here's what I did:

Materials Needed

Pint or quart canning jar with lid
1 rounded Tablespoon of mung beans (or other sprouting beans or seeds - organic is best)
Small piece of rubber shelf liner
Grapefruit Seed Extract or White Vinegar (optional)






Cut the shelf liner to fit inside the ring part of the jar.  This allows air to circulate  inside the jar.  You can buy pre-made sprouting lids, but this way is easy and inexpensive and works just as well.  



Pour one rounded Tablespoon of beans into the jar and cover with cool tap water (optional: add a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract or White Vinegar as a sanitizer). 

Let soak for about 8 hours and then drain the water.  Refill the jar with plain tap water and swirl the beans to rinse them well and then drain again.  Hold the jar upside down and shake a few times to be sure all the water has drained out. (Alternatively, you can set the jar upside down in a bowl at an angle or in your dish drainer rack until all the water has drained.)




Set the jar on the counter in a spot with low light and continue to rinse and drain twice a day for several days.  All you are doing is keeping the beans moist.  Be sure to drain the jars well of all water each time you rinse.

 By the second day you should see sprouts starting.


Once the beans have cracked open and started to sprout, move the jar to a sunny location, but not in direct sunlight - a southern exposure windowsill is perfect, to allow the sprouts to green up a bit.


Continue to rinse and drain the sprouts twice daily until they are done.  The mung beans took five days until nice green leaves had grown and the sprouts were done and ready to be eaten.


It's as easy as that, and both your chickens and ducks will love them.  Sprouted seeds and grains are actually more nutritious than either feeding them whole or grinding them into feed.  Try a different kinds to see which are your flocks' favorites.





 I am planning on keeping five jars going all the time this winter, starting a new one each morning so one jar is ready to eat each day, for a constant healthy treat source for our flock.

P.S....YOU can eat them too! Add the sprouts to salads or sandwiches or just munch on them by the handful.



Buying source for seeds/beans:
 




BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST BETTER WITH CHICKENS!

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31 comments:

  1. Very interesting! The sprouts look good enough to toss on a salad, too. Looks like the ducks are enjoying them!

    Thank you so much for visiting me and leaving such a nice comment.

    hugs,
    Becky

    PS: love your feathered family!!!

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  2. Awesome idea, Lisa. Thank you! I've bookmarked this.
    Have a great week!

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  3. Lisa, I love the shelf liner idea. You did a beautiful job on the step-by -step instructions and photographs. thank you!

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  4. It certainly looks like they are enjoying those sprouts Lisa! I buy packets of 'wild bird seed' and sprout them during winter, the chooks absolutely love it. but cutting down now as we go into summer here in South Africa, the grass is already green after some lovely rain and I often see them grazing this new luxury.Lovely selection of ideas here, will be adding them to my list!

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  5. Lisa, I've always wondered how to do this. Thank you so much for the step-by-step. I can't wait to start sprouting!

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  6. Lisa, it seems you come out with these posts just as I'm thinking about them! Too funny! I was thinking about sprouting some Alfalfa for myself because I used to love them on sandwiches years ago. Now, I can make sprouts for both myself AND our chickens! Love your step-by-step photos, and the time you took to prepare this post for folks like me. Hugs, Theresa at Sunnydale Farm

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  7. I am so glad you all like the post! I couldn't believe how FAST they grew! I'm going to try a few more different types - lentils and alalfa next I think.

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  8. I love this, Lisa. I am going to try this.

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  9. Do you think something like cheesecloth could work for the lid? Great post!

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    Replies
    1. Sure, or a piece of window screen...just be sure and drain them well each time you rinse.

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  10. Great project for my daughter to do, as she is doing work towards her Junior Master Gardener with 4H! Perfect wintertime activity...and the chickens will love the results! Thank you so much! :)

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  11. I just wanted to add that if you are going to eat sprouts, the seeds should be organic. Non-organic seeds have been linked to food borne illnesses including salmonella and E. coli.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Not only that, but you don't want to be eating seed or beans that have been sprayed with chemicals. Either way, rinsing the beans is very important.

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  12. That's ingenious! Would have never thought of the shelf liner idea. Can't wait to try this for my girls (and myself, as well). Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks! I use shelf liner for tons of things and just happened to have some and thought it would work alot better than cheesecloth which might have the tendency to stay wet.

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    2. I didn't have the shelf liner so I decided to try the plastic needlepoint stuff. The only thing it doesn't look like it will be small enough to strain quinoa. The quinoa may get a lace liner...lol.

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  13. I found this very interesting!! I never even thought to grow things indoors during winter! Great idea!! Im going to definitely try this this winter!

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    1. This is my first time also. I have grown wheatgrass in trays over the winter for the chickens, but sprouts are easier, are ready faster and more nutritious!

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  14. Those ducks are so adorable! I have chickens & I've been wanting to try raising some ducks, but my mom says they're very messy...

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    Replies
    1. Ducks do make a huge mess in the water but they are so cute that I don't mind!

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  15. Lisa,
    Great post! I featured this on today's barn hop at Homestead Revival!
    ~ Amy

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    1. Thanks so much Amy! I need to get over there and share again. Lisa

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  16. What a great idea! I'll use this for sure, and am sharing your ideas on my blog, Little Homestead in Boise, to other chicken folks :)

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  17. Really very attractive blog this is, and I really like all these pictures,I think this is the best and too much attractive blog for us because in this blog their are so many attractive and informative information available about how to grow weed indoors , which is really too much now a days. So thankful to you for posting this blog.

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  18. I have begun sprouting this winter as well. It began with wanting our Sebastopol Geese to be on as natural a diet as possible so I was trying to avoid grain or complete feeds. I experimented with a variety. Right now hard winter wheat berries and alfalfa are my stock. Oats are problematic because in packaging them the dry kiln them which makes them unable to sprout - I have a 50# bag now to mill and eat myself and share as oatmeal; nice learning moment. Big Quandary ... how much to feed? I began splitting a quart jar daily between my 15 chickens and the 2 geese. It's really still the quantity of a treat where ideally I'd like it to be their feed; the geese also get free access to soft pasture hay, timothy pellets (actual our rabbit food) til I can find plain timothy pellets), two hand-full of layer pellets with brewer's yeast (just because we have been giving them that since they were young-ens (til we knew better). Question - do you or anyone know what the portion quantity is when used as a feed. I can't give them free access cause they are like goats ... food hogs and would eat til they burst. lol

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  19. how much would you need to feed around 30 chickens and 10 ducks twice a day thanks

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  20. I sprout mung beans for my wife, and the baby chicks are getting plenty also. I cant think of anything better for them, except for when I want to see a mini football game I throw in a big worm lol.

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Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily
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