Growing Sprouts For Your Flock In Winter
When winter lays a thick blanket of snow on the ground, it hides an excellent nutritional source for your flock. In all other seasons, chickens can supplement their diet with the fresh, green grass in your yard. It’s easy to give them an alternative in the winter by growing sprouts inside for them to feast on.
Sprouts are a popular additive for chickens in the winter because they are easy to digest, contain many nutrients they lack during the cold months and can be grown on a rotating basis indoors for very little money. Any seed left over from your summer garden can become a tasty sprout for your flock, but seeds like alfalfa, wheat, millet, peas, sunflower, brassica, and clover are all wonderful choices for sprouting.
First, you will need two containers. The size of the container is going to depend on how many chickens you’re feeding. Tupperware dishes are great for this project, but you can also use empty containers from rotisserie chickens or carry out food. One container will stay intact, and one will have several small holes pierced in the bottom for draining. Make sure the holes are not so big that the seeds will slip through.
Start by rinsing your seeds to remove any debris. Place the seeds in the bottom of your intact container by spreading them in a thin layer. Too many seeds will stop airflow between the sprouts and can cause molding. Add enough water to cover your seeds and let them soak for 8-12 hours.
After they have soaked in the water, it’s time to drain the seeds. Place the container with holes in the bottom in your sink and then slowly pour the water and seed mixture into it, so the water runs out the bottom and the seeds remain in the container. Gently rinse the seeds to remove any debris. Place the container on a sunny windowsill, but make sure it’s not too hot. Too much heat can cause bacteria growth that will ruin your sprouts. Each day you will need to rinse the seeds twice and ensure the water completely drains out of the container. It’s easiest to keep the container on a kitchen windowsill for ease of access.
Time To Feed
In about a week to ten days, your sprouts will be ready to feed to your flock! Chickens will eat the sprouts, the seed casings, and the roots, so remove the entire sprout mat from the container to provide to your birds. The type of seed you’re sprouting can determine the amount of time it takes to germinate, so it may take slightly longer for your sprouts to reach 3-4 inches if you use seeds with a more rigid casing
Not only are the sprouts a great source of nutrients for your birds, but it’s also a great boredom buster for restless hens. You can keep several containers growing sprouts at once to give your flock a continual source of yummy greens. You may even see a difference in the richness of the yolk from your hen’s eggs after they have had this wonderful treat!
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