We’ve been feeding our hens 16% protein complete conventional feeds from Ranch-way and Purina. The ladies have a big feeder that holds about twenty-five pounds of feed. It does an amazing job of preventing them from beaking out pellets, and they can go two or three days between refills.
In addition, I can’t resist giving them a small ration of scratch grains each day, ostensibly to help them stay warm…scratch is a high-fat feed, a mixture of cracked corn, wheat, and milo….but also for the sheer joy of seeing them frantically devouring the tiny pearls of grain. We give them a cup or two of dry scratch each day, some days a bit more and some days none at all.
Inspired by The Modern Homestead’s excellent information on sprouting to enhance poultry feeds, I decided to start a small scale sprouting operation. Scratch grains are inexpensive but relatively low quality food for the ladies. By sprouting, we can enhance the nutritional content of the grains. Wheat, for example, increases its vitamin E content by 300% and riboflavin content from 13 milligrams to 54 mg after two days growth. Seven days growth also turns 1/2 cup of dry scratch grains into a full 26oz jar of delicious sprouts. The growing sprouts are an excellent supplement for the birds, especially now when green forage is non-existent in their yard.
So far, it has been working extremely well and the chickens LOVE the sprouted grains. Here’s how it works:
We have seven spaghetti jars lined up on the fridge. Each day I’ve been feeding the oldest sprouts to the hens, rinsing the jar and refilling it with 1/2 cup of dry scratch grains. I give the dry grains a single rinse, then let them soak until the next morning. The other six jars of growing sprouts get a quick rinse in the morning and evening each day. By day seven, the sprouts are about an inch long, green, and taste like, well, grass.
I wonder if the additional nutrition from our sprout experiment helped kick start Lone Feather and the mystery layer to restart/start egg production after the recent (and brutal) cold snap…