My chickens spent most of their time in a (large) enclosure that they have picked free of greens. I want them to be happy – and to produce healthy eggs, so I pick them dandelion leaves, I leave them piles of fresh cut grass. I mean to revisit the food fence and grazing frame, but then I saw this on Pinterest: sprouts.
I won’t extoll the benefits of sprouted grains here, but the list is long. Chickens can eat all parts of the sprouted grain, and it can be a complete meal if you provide enough, needing only access to grit and calcium to ensure health.
I have built a self-watering system based on plans I bought from another DIYer. There is a sump at the bottom, and three trays with drain holes of successively sprouting grains. I bought 50# bags of barley and of oats (just $20 each!) at Hayes Feed in Burien. The first tray is a mix of oats and barley, the second is barley, the third oats. I expect they differ in their ease and timing of germination, so I’m checking that out.
It’s also taking hella longer than my readings. Instead of 6 days, I’m at 2 weeks and counting. Pretty sure that’s cause the temp is so cool. It’s out in the shed now, but I may have to move this operation indoors in the winter.
A word of caution if you design and build one yourself: use a bigger sump. Even though each tray drains into the next – the force of water being what it is, there is some splashing that gets the floor a little wet at the periphery of my sump.
Looking forward to presenting this gift to my hens! Keep ya posted.