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Growing Sprouts for your Chickens

Growing sprouts for your chickens makes a nutritious treat when they don't have grass to nibble on.

I remember growing up as a kid my Mom would always have jars of alfalfa and other types of sprouts growing in the kitchen.

Yes, it was the late 70's, early 80's and yes, she was into healthy eating - whole wheat bread, unsalted natural peanut butter and tofu - way before it was vogue.

A woman ahead of her time, she inadvertently gave me an idea for healthy treats for our chickens this winter!

Growing Sprouts for your Chickens

Back in 2012 I had been trying to think of inexpensive, healthy treats for them since we found ourselves with more than thirty chickens and ducks.

It was just too expensive to buy them produce at the grocery store like I used to do when we only had six. Turns out, sprouts are extremely nutritious and easy to grow. And they're far less expensive than other chicken treats.

If YOU have also been wondering what you can give to your flock for healthy treats this winter when they can't get out to forage, and when produce isn't plentiful, why not sprout some seeds or beans for them?

It's inexpensive and gives the chickens much-needed nutrition when they can't be out eating grass and weeds.

I usually sprout lentils, as pictured here, or mung beans, but you can sprout all kinds of things:

Clover, alfalfa, mung beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, quinoa, radish, mustard seeds, grains, clover, oats, garbanzo beans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, among others, or even leftover garden seeds! 

Check your local health food store or online for organic beans, grains and seeds for sprouting. These lentils were just from a bag of dried lentils I picked up at the grocery store.

(Caution: dried beans contain a toxin called hemaglutin and should never be fed RAW to chickens, however cooking or sprouting destroys the toxin. I would still suggest avoiding the larger beans such as lima, kidney and the like, and stick with grains, seeds and smaller beans like mung or lentil instead)

Growing Sprouts

What you Need

Sprouting kit (optional, but makes it super easy!)

Instructions Cut the shelf liner to fit inside the ring part of the jar.  This allows air to circulate inside the jar and the water to drain out.

Alternatively, you can buy commercial metal or plastic sprouting lids, but this way is easy and inexpensive and works just as well. You can also just use a small fine-mesh strainer to strain the water out of the jars.

Commercial Sprouting Lid

Homemade Rubber Shelf Liner Lid

Next pour one rounded Tablespoon of beans into the jar and cover with cool tap water. (Optional: add a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract or White Vinegar as a sanitizer to help prevent mold). 

Let soak for about 8 hours (or overnight) and then drain the water.

Refill the jar with plain tap water and swirl the beans to rinse them well and then drain again.  Hold the jar upside down and shake a few times to be sure all the water has drained out.

(Alternatively, you can set the jar upside down in a bowl at an angle or in your dish drainer rack until all the water has drained.)

Set the jar on the counter in a spot with low light and continue to rinse and drain twice a day for several days.  All you are doing is keeping the beans moist.

Be sure to drain the jars well of all water each time you rinse. 

By the second day you should see sprouts starting.

Once the beans have cracked open and started to sprout, move the jar to a sunny location, but not in direct sunlight. A southern exposure windowsill is perfect, to allow the sprouts to green up a bit.

Continue to rinse and drain the sprouts twice daily until they're nice and green and have grown little leaves.

The lentils took five days until nice green leaves had grown and the sprouts were done and ready to be eaten.

It's as easy as that, and both your chickens and ducks will love them.

Sprouted seeds and grains are actually more nutritious than either feeding them whole or grinding them into feed.

Try a different kinds to see which are your flocks' favorites.

I am planning on keeping a few jars going all the time this winter, starting a new batch each time one is done, for a constant healthy treat source for our flock.

P.S....YOU can eat them too!

Add the sprouts to salads or sandwiches or just munch on them by the handful.

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