Sprouting barley fodder is pretty easy. Barley fodder has a high digestibility of around 80% so it makes a great supplement to hay or can be fed straight to the animal. Fresh green grass is hard to pass up. Sprouting helps unlock the vitamins, enzymes, minerals, omega 3s and helps with immune responses and digestion. We built this system inspired by the alpaca guy in Washington. The barley fodder is the starting point to the Fish Food Project. The barley feeds the horses that are feeding the worms and the worms are going into fish food to feed the fish in the aquaponics system.
First, we start by weighing some seed to about 3.5lbs. Then, pour the seeds into a 2 gallon bucket and fill with water to a couple inches above the seed line.
The duds and debris float to the top and you can pour them off so they don’t mold in the tray while the sprouts are sprouting.
Next, pour the seeds into the tray and spread them out.
We built this system with two of those metal racks you can get just about anywhere. We used 3/4″ pvc to build the irrigation manifolds with 3/8″ tubing providing two streams of water to flow through the seed bed. Temperature should be between 60-70F. If it’s warmer you’ll get mold and if it’s colder, sprouting is slowed. We trickle water into the tray for one minute and irrigate every six hours controlled by a simple lawn irrigation timer and a couple solenoids. The manifolds are at the back of the system. The drains are in the front and allow for easy removal of the trays. This is what sold me on this design as it makes it easy to clean the trays. We cut big holes in the 3″ pipe and the drain on the tray simply drains into it.
After a few days the sprouts start coming up.
The final product is called a biscuit. The roots are bright white and the grass is a lush green. It usually weighs somewhere around 25lbs.
The not so fun part is cleaning the trays. We use simple green and water with a sponge to lightly scrub the biofilm that forms. Left unchecked, after a couple growth cycles your biscuits get moldy. We clean after every cycle. It doesn’t take too long.
Here’s my Integrated Pest Management Manager Mr. Fodder Frog.