Friday, January 24, 2014

Sprouting Grains For the Chickens

Thanks Kno3 I checked out your profile while I had a few moments and saw this blog in your list.   I had to take a peak. I'm glad I did even though it gave me a guilt trip. Apparently chickens have difficulty  in digesting the nutrients in grains also. It's a duh thought really. I know I've read about this but somehow it just didn't hit home with such impact until now. I can be slow at times. I think I was putting off the responsibility part and denying somehow that phytic acid for chickens was also a big deal. Maybe it was that things have slowed down a bit and my mind had an opportunity to cope with the problem. But for whatever reason it struck me hard the other day. Chickens are to have a 70 / 30 diet. Meaning 70% grain and 30% bugs and vegetable matter and in that view the 70% then becomes a really big deal because it is the bulk of their diet.

And as that thought roamed through my head, it was this line in Holistic Hen's post that sent daggers through my consciousness.  "Furthermore, phytic acid, once consumed inhibits the uptake of various trace nutrients such as copper, magnesium, calcium, iron and in particular zinc, which is why a totally dry grain diet can cause deficiency problems."

Calcium is blocked from absorption because phytic acid blocks Vitamin D-3 absorption. Calcium is a huge deal with chickens. Egg shells are calcium. And if the hen doesn't get enough, she will rob her bones to get it. Yes there is such a thing as an osteoporosis hen.

With today's hens producing far more eggs than yesteryears, they last a shorter period of time because they can not consume enough nutrients and that includes calcium. Makes you wonder if this is not due more to poor nutrition than just higher production. In my experience it does not matter if a hen is caged or in a home flock, most are fed a poor diet. Just one maybe a little less so than the other. We live in a pretend world where superficial is norm. You have an egg and people assume it is good for them. Remember the carrot post, well eggs are no different.  

My guilt trip was complete. Yes, I was going to have to do something about this malnutrition in my hens and not wait until after I move. My hens are confined due to legal restrictions. They will be confined in the new place too but with far more area to roam. I will set things up where they can roam the garden part of the year and with a much larger garden I can grow crops with them in mind. But that is in the future and my chickens are in the here and now so though they may eat better than most chickens I need to step up my game. I eat essentially what they eat because it comes out in the eggs. Which means my eggs could be FAR more nutritious with a little more effort.
So out came a ice cream bucket. Just love these things. They are so handy for so many tasks. Wish I had more of them but I'd have to eat the ice cream-- not happening. That much fake ice cream just grates against my nerves. I'll have to find someone that eats this stuff because I can see I will need more buckets. I got off track there, sorry. Determined, I set to work. I filled a bucket half full of mixed grain and poured in water to cover it by a couple inches, letting it sit over night.

The next day I drained it. Then rinsed and drained three times a day for the next two days. Took only a few minutes of my time a day.

I figured it was a good idea to start small as my first experiment. Already I can definitely see this game is going to have to be stepped up big time. Morning of the third day of rinsing and the grain is just barely sprouted. This will likely take at least four days.
Morning of the fourth day and I think they are ready to be fed.

Questions, questions, questions, is all I have right now and those who know me know my brain is whirling with ideas. If I do this twice a week starting my second batch the night before I feed my first batch to the chickens then they will get the supplement twice a week. The problem being with increasing beyond this is I just don't want a cazillion buckets taking up my very limited counter space in the kitchen and there is no where else for them to go. Some is better than none and this is after all my first time.

Later I hope, if the garage isn't too cold in the new place, I will up the bucket size and amount of soaking grains. In the summer I may not need to do this at all -- or will I? 

If the chickens are fed soaked grains then will their appetites decrease because they are more satisfied? That thought was inspired because of my own discovery last week when I bought hamburger buns for over four dollars for eight. (How do people afford buying bread?) After eating one, I wasn't satisfied. It was a honey and butter sandwich. I had to have another and that didn't satisfy me either. I wanted one more. This was a shocker for me since it has been some time since I've bought any store bread. 

Out came the wheat grinder and I ground corn and white wheat to put in the freezer for the next few weeks of needs. This unsatisfied feeling doesn't happen when I use Montana White flour to make bread so what is the bread factory doing wrong? They probably don't think it is wrong for after all the unsatisfied feeling creates a greater demand. I'm not sure I want to find out what horrors they are doing. It doesn't seem like anything in the grocery store is safe these days. 

 I can't imagine how much store bread it must take to feed a family with this unsatisfying mixture. Will I find the same to be true of my hens? Will they need far less grain if it is sprouted? That could be a real savings. Higher nutrition on less money. I like that idea. Now to see if this theory holds up under experimentation.

If that is true and I could find some ranchers growing grain that they would sell a small amount of to me ----my dream then would come true. More for less once more. But alas, I've yet to see evidence of grain fields. No stubble in sight. I'm definitely going to ask around at the local feed stores in my new area for names of any ranchers who produce grain or corn for that matter. I've always dreamed of coming home with a truck bed load full of dried corn cobs.

I need to cut my budget way down to afford buying this place in a short amount of time. We need to get out of debt once more to reach self-sufficiency or shall I say a greater sense of self-sufficiency. I don't plan on making my own toilet paper or doing without.  

One thing I have learned this past couple years is that the chickens sure love oat straw in their coops. Much better than sawdust as they scratch through it and I'm amazed how much they digest. Alas, the oat straw came from Montana a couple years ago. Yes, there is some grown up north of where we live and surely I can find some in our new area. It is my hope. 

The change in bedding has kept my hens more occupied and gives them a more natural environment where they forage for their food.

I can't wait to move. Oh the possibilities that will open up to us. The sun room being one of them where I can grow a couple flats of wheat grass besides flats of food for us. Sprouts and wheat grass with high levels of Vitamin C, oh my, my ten hens are going to think they've come to the Tashma Hall. Wheat grass in our smoothies would be good for us too. I'll have to try that.

Oh please, can't we move next week? Our banker keeps asking us if we don't want to move sooner. We do. The present owners don't.

Thanks once again Kno3 for your inspirations and for following my blog.

I'll keep everyone updated on my new experiment. Meanwhile I've got to let you know that the raviolis turned out great. No insides whirling around in the water. SCORE!!!!


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