As a Permaculture Designer/Consultant I always try to help my Urban or Suburban clients raise animals in a self-sustainable manner (as much as possible) depending on their needs and their available resource.
Many of you (including myself) love to raise animals or want to raise animals. Again, depending on your residential or locality zoning laws one of the simplest (and Prepper friendly) animals to raise are rabbits, chickens and in some case ducks.
Thinking from a Prepper point of view, my first recommendation would be rabbits. They are quiet, provide an abundance of manure (which can be applied directly to your garden), they return a yield anywhere from 20 kits (baby rabbits) per female per year, you can also tan their hides to make gloves, ear muffs, shawls, pillows, blankest and more.
Guess what? This article isn’t about “The Benefits of Raising Rabbits In A Survival Situation”, it’s about feeding your animals in a survival situation and even in a non-survival situation and doing it economically, fast and efficient manner. The Fodder feeding system is what I plan to discuss in this article.
Many Preppers will have to also prep for their animals. This mean that we have to stock or grow food for our animals as well. The Fodder system allow you grow healthy food and in most cases, non-GMO food in abundance (in 9 day or less). You can’t always do that in the gardening situation 365 days of the year, especially if you live in Northern climates, High Desert or other challenging climates.
The Fodder system also affords you the opportunity to grow food in small confined spaces. Yes, not everyone has 5 acres or more for grazing animals. As I mentioned all grazing animals or any animal that eats leafy vegetables will benefit from the Fodder system. Here is the main benefit of growing your animal food in the fodder system, you can take a 50 lb. bag of feed you just bought could grow into 300 lbs. of feed that is more nutrient dense in just 9 days. How awesome is that? Isn’t just the mere idea of cutting your feed bill worth the try? I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Start with this
Finish with this:
What can be used to grow fodder?
You can use just about any grain. Again depending on your needs and resources you might want to experiment and see what works best for your situation. The most popular grains for fodder are barley, wheat, and oats. One note on oats. Oats are more difficult to sprout and they are more prone to mold.
You can usually purchase one of these grains through your local feed store. Many people don’t have space for sacks of grains on their property. If this is your case I would recommend using Clover. It’s seeds are small and they pack a lot of weight and of course, nutrition. In fact, you can grow more fodder using Clover verses using other grains. Keep reading the article and I’ll show you how to maximize on using Clover in your fodder system.
You can grow the fodder and harvest it (feeding it to your animals) right before the sprouts get their second leaves at about 7-9 days, you do not need to use anything more than water to grow them, not even fertilizer. The action of sprouting amplifies the natural proteins, vitamins, mineral, enzymatic activity, omega 3’s, amino acids, natural hormones, and stimulates immune response. Of course the increase in these wonderful benefits varies grain to grain.
Supplies you’ll need:
You can purchase fodder trays that have convenient drain holes (plugs) in them. Or you can purchase food grade buckets and drill holes in the bottom of them. Buckets can be stacked on top of each other and the water from one bucket can be drained to the lower bucket.
How to water the fodder:
Pre-soak your seeds for 24 hours.
1. Day one- Take your pre-soaked seeds and add them to their trays or buckets water them twice.
2. Day two- Water your trays 2-3 times a day. Make sure the water is draining completely from the trays or buckets.
3. Continue to do this for 7-9 days.
9 Days is the maximum you’ll want to water the fodder sprouts. Make sure you’re not over watering the fodder to the point that the roots are soaked and begin to mold and/or rot. You can now remove the fodder from the trays or buckets and feed your animals.
You can make a more elaborate system. Search the Internet for ideas. Growing fodder is a good way to get the family, especially children, involved. What child wouldn’t want to play in water i.e. water the fodder?
The fodder can be grown with only ambient light, so although grow lights or direct sunlight can and will benefit your fodder, direct light is not necessary. For the best growing results, I recommend that the temperature of your fodder system stays between 63 degrees F and 75 degrees F. If you have a basement then it is a ideal place for setting up your fodder system. In arid climates or hot climates you may have to operate your fodder system with the aid of a fan. I have personally grown clover fodder in temperatures as high as 85 degree F without any problem.
For more information you can visit our Clover Fodder Page.
Now you’ve just read how to turn 50lbs of grain or seeds and convert it to a minimum of 300lbs or more in 9 days. You can grow food for your livestock 365 days of the year in the comfort of your home. How exciting is that!
Planting season is upon us and I have some exciting articles coming your way. So stay turn. I’ll also show you how to take your fodder and triple it’s production in part 2 of this article.
Keep It Growing!