This winter we’re experimenting with growing fodder which is sprouted barley seed. Throughout the winter we're feeding it to a select group of sheep, pigs, and chickens. This green feed, that’s high in protein, is fed with hay and minerals. The recommended method of growing fodder is to soak the seed in water with bleach added. The seed is soaked for twenty four hours to inhibit mold growth. Thereafter chemical fertilizer is added to the water. To avoid chemicals and bleach we’re using Apple Cider Vinegar to changes the PH level and arrest mold growth. We're also experimenting with a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide and comparing the results. As an alternative to the chemical fertilizers we're recirculating the nutrient rich barley water and adding more Apple Cider Vinegar. This is still in the experimental stage but So far, we’re producing and feeding about twenty pounds of fodder each day. The pigs love it, the sheep aren’t quite sure if they like it yet (I think it has to do with the odor of fermentation) and the chickens go crazy for it.
The issue with growing fodder is the energy that's used to produce it. In the mid-west the winters don't support growing fodder without a heat source. The energy use might doesn't justify production. In a drought year it might be a viable alternative, though.