Sprouting Fodder to Boost Protein + 7 Day Sprouting System

As y’all probably have gathered, I am on a quest to learn how to mix my own feed for my animals. Along with the mixing of the feed, however, there are supplements to give. For instance, goats are prone to copper deficiency, so their diet must be supplemented with goat minerals. Laying chickens need a little bit higher protein diet than most chickens that aren’t laying, and rabbits need hay to be the bulk of their diet, but they also have other nutritional needs depending on what type of hay you feed them.

Sprouting to Boost Protein - Stone Family Farmstead
At Stone Family Farmstead, all of our livestock are small, which makes it pretty affordable to feed them commercial feed if we’d like to do that. We do that with some of our animals, but we are getting away from feeding everyone from different bags of feed. We have our reasons as to why we are moving in this new direction, and it’s not about money. However, we are looking at our costs and seeking out the most nutritious, least expensive non-GMO ingredients we can find for all of our animals. Pesticide-free is also a plus, but it’s not as readily available in our area, but we do try.

The end goal for our farmstead feeding strategies is to provide all of the nutritional needs of our animals using the same base feed. Beyond that, each animal will receive their species-specific supplements to meet the remainder of their nutritional needs. This will make it much easier to consolidate what I’m purchasing on the whole, and really hone in on the best diet for each species that we care for. In the end, I’d love to slowly switch them from commercial pellets to feed that we can mix here, grow on our farmstead, or purchase in a bale.

Sprouting Fodder - Stone Family Farmstead

So far, we are mixing our chicken feed and we’ve recently begun sprouting organic hard red wheat as a supplement for the rabbits and chickens. It’s been going really well and all of the animals have finally adjusted to getting their own little patch of grass each evening. Sprouting isn’t hard, but it is a commitment at least twice per day (though it works out best if you can commit to giving it attention three times per day).

You can sprout other grains, bearing in mind what nutrients you are actually trying to supplement and add to your animals’ diet. For me, I was seeking ways to supplement protein, and hard red wheat is about 15% protein. Sprouted, that protein becomes more bio-available, increases many key nutrients in the grain such as vitamins B and C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids (Whole Grains Counsel: Sprouting Whole Grains). Some grains, like barley, are difficult for chickens to absorb nutrients from, which makes sprouting a great option when feeding this grain to them (Feeding Barley to Poultry, Extension.org).

The System

The system that I use for sprouting isn’t new–if you’ve sprouted before, then you probably know how to do this already, so if you’d like, you can just look at my pretty pictures. For those of you who have never sprouted before, feel free to print this post (button at the bottom) so that you can see what you are going for when you do your own sprouting. From start to finish, each batch will take 7 days. I will take you through the process with one batch, but keep in mind that I stagger my batches, starting one (roughly) every day so that I have fodder to feed to the rabbits and chickens each evening.

What you will need

3 1-quart sized wide mouth mason jars (regular size wouldn’t work well for this)
4 2″x6″x9″ organizer trays
grain to sprout
1 plastic lid to fit one of your mason jars
cheese cloth
2 rubber bands
water (I use our city water, which works just fine)

Day 1

Fill one of your mason jars with 1/2 cup grain and add water about an inch or so above the grain. No need to be exact on how much water, it doesn’t really matter as long as all of the grain is submerged in water. Cover your jar with a tight-fitting lid until the next morning.

You may want to label your jars in the beginning the way I did below until you get a sense of what each day’s fodder will look like. Since I had so many jars going at the same time, it was helpful to know what I was supposed to be doing with it each day, however, once the grain was out of the jar and into the trays, it was easy to pick up on where in the 7 stages each tray was.

Sprouting, Day 1 - Stone Family Farmstead

Day 2

On day 2, remove the lid and cover with 2 layers of cheesecloth, securing the cloth with a rubber band. Pour off the water from the day before, then rinse your grain twice and allow to drain as completely as you can. You will repeat the rinsing at least once today, but preferably twice (once more at lunch, once before bed).

The grain should look softer with small sprouts, but if it doesn’t, don’t worry, go ahead and follow this step anyway.

Sprouting, Day 2 - Stone Family Farmstead

Day 3

On day 3, you will repeat the same rinsing process as day 2.

Your should be seeing that your grain has grown longer roots. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this step for some reason.)

Day 4

It’s time to move your sprouted grain out into one of your organizational trays (I’ll call them sprouting trays from now on, since that’s what we are using them for). You’ll want to rinse them twice before you spread them out in an even layer on the tray. Rinse them twice at lunch and twice before bed.

The grains should have nice visible roots now. The root mat will not have grown together just yet, so it will be easy to lose grains between the slats in the tray, so take care to keep them in the best you can. I tend to wet all the grain, then slowly and carefully tip the tray so that the water runs out of one of the corners and the grain stays in its place. You may lose a few grains this day. No worries, just put them back in the tray, making sure that the grains are as evenly spaced in the tray as you can get them.

Sprouting, Day 4 - Stone Family Farmstead

Day 5

In the morning, rinse your grain twice, taking care not to lose too much of the grain between the holes in the tray. Rinse twice at lunch, and twice before bed.

You should be able to see how the root mat is starting to grow together, making it easier to rinse each time. You will also see little blades of wheat grass (if you are using wheat) growing out of the seeds.

Sprouting, Day 5 - Stone Family Farmstead

Day 6

Same process for day 6: In the morning, rinse your grain twice. Rinse twice at lunch, and twice before bed. Try to make sure that you get as much of the grain wet as you can, so you don’t end up with dry grains between the grass.

Your grass should be considerably longer and looking more like the grass in your front yard.

Sprouting, Day 6 - Stone Family Farmstead

Day 7

Last day, and your grass should be looking awesome. On this day, I usually rinse twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon, then feed it to the rabbits and chickens in the evening (no rinsing needed).

Sprouting, Day 7 - Stone Family Farmstead

If you’ve been rinsing 3 times per day, the mat should look lush and thick, like this one. If you’ve only rinsed twice, it will be thinner.

Fodder Root Mat - Stone Family Farmstead

To use, turn your whole grass mat over and cut through the root mat into the number of portions that you need for that day.

Sprouting - Stone Family Farmstead

What about you?

Do you sprout fodder for your animals? What are your reasons for doing so?

Shared at Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Awesome Life Friday, From the Farm, Old-Fashioned Friday, Front Porch Friday, Farm Girl Friday, Weekend Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Good Morning Mondays, Homemade Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Tuesday with a Twist, Maple Hill Hop, Homestead Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Green Thumb Thursday

Print Friendly
Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! 🙂
Kristi Stone

Latest posts by Kristi Stone (see all)


  1. Cool idea and I like how you kept track of what you did and when on the jar. I think of myself as a suburban farmgirl, but it would be so nice to have some animals. My homeowners association probably wouldn’t go for it, though! 🙂


    • Ahh yes, I know the feeling. We didn’t live in an area before with a homeowner’s association, but we did live on .18 of an acre back before we moved here. We couldn’t have many animals beyond domestic either, but we did get a couple of chickens. I thought it was ok, then found out later that it probably wasn’t–then we moved. It just happened to be timed well, we didn’t move because of the chickens!

  2. Yes, I sprout grain for the chickens. It is so much more nutritious than just feeding them the grain. I too am trying to grow feed for the chickens, trying to make our farm a self-sustaining cycle. But still buying in grain as we are not growing any wheat, etc. My son is really keen to try wheat growing. I am really finding your posts useful – thanks for all the info.

    • I understand. I can’t imagine how we would ever be able to produce enough grain for all of our farm and family needs here on our little hobby farm, but it certainly is a noble pursuit. Maybe one day! But until then, I’m with you, buying in grain for what we need. Thanks for your kind comments, Jayne, and for your visit!

  3. I’ve done a tiny bit of sprouting for use in bread and salad. I’ve been thinking about giving it another try and this was the boost I needed. I’m also going to try sprouting for the chickens and ducks this winter when the ground is covered in snow.

    • Good for you, Robin! Once you get into the rhythm of it, it will be really easy for you, and it’s really nice to have something fresh to give to your animals when nothing else is really available for them.

  4. I do sprouts for myself, but didn’t realize that folks did that for their critters! Maybe you need to start your own feed company! So glad you stopped by our outdoor HOP!

    • Ha ha, noooo. Funny that you should say that, though–a friend and I are getting ready to embark on a very in-depth study of nutritional needs of the livestock we raise. Maybe we’ll learn enough to not only mix our own, but do something else with all that knowledge! Thanks for stopping by, Daisy!

  5. What a great fodder system! I’ve been feeding my chickens fodder for about 2 years now…but lazy me only does it in winter! I really should do it year round. Great tips!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you’ll join us again this week!


    • Thanks Lisa! You know–I get what you are saying. I definitely wouldn’t be messing with a fodder system if my girls had access to pasture. At this point, they don’t, so I’ve got to supplement them with the fodder. We are working on enclosing my garden area and cutting a hole in the side of their coop (it’s a big 8’x12′ room, really) so they can come out into the garden area and root around the gardens (when the plants are large enough, of course) and compost pile. It’s all a process, though, and so for now, the fodder is it. And it’s not enough, unfortunately, but it’s what we can do now. 🙂

  6. Deanna Furrey says:

    We have a house rabbit. Any ideas on how we could do this on a very small scale just for her?

    • Oh sure—you could just use less grain and smaller containers! You could also actually skip the sprouting-to-fodder part and just sprout the seeds for 3 days or so in pint jars. The only thing would be to introduce it to your rabbit slowly, and see how he/she likes it. It took a few weeks for my rabbits to truly appreciate it. 🙂

  7. Hi Kristi, I am about to try sprouting wheatgrass for my 2 house rabbits. I am wondering can the rabbits survive on the sprout and hay alone, or do I need to supplement other stuff for them? Also, will the rabbit have diarrhoea problem if we do the switch from pellet to the sprout?

Speak Your Mind



Subscribe to Stone Family Farmstead by Email to get new blog updates, RIGHT to your inbox, and stay tuned for breeding and kidding dates!