Barley Fodder System


With the increasing price of feed we had to find a solution to our ever growing feed bill. We wanted to keep with feeding our animals what they are supposed to eat and stay away from commercial feeds as much as possible.

We are lucky that we raise hogs that thrive on grass. The reason we purchased them, besides their social behavior, was they are grass eating machines. Our chickens, ducks and geese also eat grass. So, does our horse….Do you see a trend here?

The next thing we had to research is goats. Can goats live off grass only? No. Can they get a lot of nutrients, calories and minerals from it? Yes. Can they eat the fresh grass and then be supplemented with dry roughage? YES!! So we are able to decrease the amount of alfalfa pellets we are feeding, the goat pellets we are feeding and the hay we are feeding when we give them barley fodder!

Fodder? What is Fodder you ask?

Well…for us it is sprouted barley seeds. In our system we have built it takes 8 days for barley to grow from seed to feed all hydroponically.


We start by soaking organic barley seed in a bucket of water for 12 hours. Then we lay those seeds out in a grow tray with holes punched in the bottom. We then water a few times a day to keep the seeds wet so they can germinate. We continue to water a few times a day until it is green and lush enough for our animals to eat.


A 10×20” tray feeds all of our chickens (30), geese (3) and muscovy ducks (6) and costs less than $2.00. If we were to weigh the barley fodder and feed according to weight, we would only feed a half a try to them a day. I tear little pieces of it off and throw it into their bowls.


This chicken was sneaking a treat while I was feeding everyone.


Since we started small (2 trays a day) we are only feeding our birds and the three American Guinea Hogs. The AGHs are thriving off of it! They eat it like it is candy. The horse took a little while to get used to it. She would eat the green part and leave the roots until one day the roots were gone. She now eats her entire biscuit.

We are slowly building a larger system to grow enough barley fodder for our entire ranch. I would like to be up to 8 trays a day so I have plenty of feed to add on more animals in the future.

One thing we are having some difficulty with is temperature regulation. The barley grows best at about 70 degree. If it is hotter it will mold quicker and not grow. If it is colder it will grow but take twice a long. We are insulating the area we are growing it in to keep the heat in. I am trying to figure out a way to heat it without spending a lot of money on a heater, wasting propane or using up our electricity.

As soon as we get the system fully running I will make a video to share with you all!


14 thoughts on “Barley Fodder System

  1. do you feed your chickens anything else?I raise laying hens and do feed them a custom mix besides lots of greens, I planned on sprouting wheat for them this winter………also would using a fan keep the trays from molding when it is warm?

    • We let them free range all day and then into the coop at night for safety. During the winter when there isn’t anything for them to forage we do give them some scratch grains to keep them warm and bellies full. I have also been known to soak the scratch grains in some goat milk and feed it to them! They LOVE it!

      I am doing some research to find out exactly the nutritional value of the barley fodder. All the reading I have done has led me to believe that it is a complete feed for chickens and my American Guinea Hogs. I post more information as I find it.


  2. You can heat a greenhouse with the body heat of rabbits. I have seen it being done on Marthas Vineyard. The chickens also have a warm body heat which would help at night. Id put a compost pile on one side of the growing area to keep it warm. Id love to see what you decide to do and what works for you!

    • We are growing it in the daylight basement of the house that hasn’t been finished out. I don’t know if I can house rabbits or chickens under there without the smell going up to the house. I know when we do get a true large greenhouse going I would love to raise rabbits in there during the winter months. Thank you so much for your suggestions!!


    • All the research I have done says it is nutritionally balanced enough. I do leave some oyster shells out for them for calcium in their eggs. When I plump up my Delaware’s and Jersey’s for butcher I will be feeding them leftover goat milk for added calories.

  3. How fun to click on your website from TSP and find you are in my area! Looked all around your site-very nice. Love what you are doing with the barley. Very nice system. I’m sprouting wheat for my chickens, but nothing else. The pigs did not really like it. I’m just dumping it into a bucket and letting it sprout. Not a fancy system like you, but you have lots of animals to feed.
    I’m curious as to where you get your barley. My feed store does not even carry whole barley. Is it better than wheat? I tried sprouting whole oats. They did not seem to sprout.

    • Hi Jeanne,

      Where are you located? I am surprised when people know where Georgetown is! Thanks so much for the complements on our barley fodder.

      We purchased our barley seed from a seed company in Stockton, CA. If you e-mail me I will send you the information. It is nice seed and has a high germination percentage.

      I think that the chickens actually prefer fodder at day 4 or 5. They really like the seed portion of it along with the roots. Then the run around with the green stems trying to keep it from each other. I love watching them.

      I don’t know if barley is better than wheat. My husband has a wheat allergy so we tend to stay away from it. I am going to venture out and try some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds and maybe some Alfalfa. We will see!

      Find us on Facebook, it is nice to have local farm friends.


  4. Thank you for this post! I’m about to get my first flock of chickens this April and I’ve been trying to find ways to feed them without resorting to a ‘formulated’ kibble. Do you think the barley fodder would be a healthy diet for rabbits? I’ve read on some hydroponics sites that it helps them gain weight and a myriad of other things, but they’re trying to sell a product so I’m rather skeptical of thier opinions 🙂

    • I haven’t fed it to rabbits but all our research says “Yes”! I am getting some New Zelands at the end of the month so I will be able to tell you for sure! We plan on doing a bit of barley fodder, a small bit of pellets and alfalfa hay. It will help off set the costs a bit!


  5. I love your website and all the things you share. I will be trying out some sprouting as our feed bill is way to high. We have AGHogs also. Our mama had 7 babies 3 weeks ago. Our Californian Rabbit had 4 babies and the chickes are hatching. Our mascove duck is sitting on 6 eggs. We are combing out our cashmere goats now and will be shearing the angora goat next month. I would love the seed company name and the kind of seed you get. My brother lives in Stockton, maybe I can get him to pick some up for me and save on shipping. Do you do tours?? I would love to see how you are fenceing your animals. Do you use hot wire?? I am thinking about it!!
    Also did you separate your Hogs before birth and if so when do you put them back together? Thanks for the info. We are new with AGHogs.

    • Thanks Karen! Sounds like you are in baby farm animal heaven right now! How do you like your angoras? I am planning on getting Finnish Sheep soon and would love to add Angora goats too! I would love some information on them. We use Kamprath seed company and they have very clean, high % sprouting seeds.

      We always welcome visitors once the weather gets better. We are planning on doing an open house in a couple months. We have had quite a few people that want to come visit. Since it is a bit of a drive I would love to offer lunch and drinks at least!

      We use a combination of no-climb, field fencing, hot-wire and welded wire. It depends on the animals we are trying to keep in! The no-climb is so expensive so we only use it on the fronts of the pastures so the little kids can’t get their hands in as easily. The field fencing with the smaller squares at the bottom works great for all our animals. We then run hot-wire along the bottom to keep dogs from digging and pigs from pushing up under it. The horse just has hot tape and it isn’t even hot…don’t tell her though! LOL

      I would highly recommend separating your sow from boar at birth. We had a successful birth with the boar in for the first one. We have also had one go bad. Huge lesson learned and lots of tears cried. Right now we have 3 sows, 2 boars and then a bunch of little guys. Our goal is to have the boars in their own pasture, sows in their own and babies in their own. If you are just running a boar and a sow I would wait until the babies are weaned to put them all back in together. Watch your boar though, I have heard of gilts getting pregnant pretty young.

      • An open house is a great idea, but you will probably have quite a few come. You could tie it into a theme and do an annual event, You could even charge a small fee to help feed the animals. Angoras are fun goats But A LOT of work. They need to be sheered twice a year and their hooves trimmed every 6 weeks. They get lice easy. (Well mine hasn’t but its one of the things that happen) They are very strong and can be trainned to pull a cart. We only have one angora weather. I Love my Cashmere goats. You comb them out once a year. trim hooves 2 to 3 times and let them be goats. Our biggest one we use as a cart goat. His fleece has won at County fair two years. I have enough now to make a hat, scarf, and mittens.
        I will need to learn about using hot wire. Our boar got out,( the boys left the gate open) and he went to the sows pen and let her out. Luckly the babies stayed in. They went exploring together and did a nice job rottilling the hen yard for me.
        The piggets are 4 weeks old and eatting some and still nursing. Could she end up Pregent again because We weren’t watching the whole time and didn’t see him get her out so I’m not sure how long they were together or if anything happened.

  6. I was just checking in with you to see how the sytem was going and what changes you have made? I have switched over to totally feeding the fodder to my chickens but after five days of just fodder my egg counts have dropped, I was just wondering if this was a temporary thing until they adjust to the change in feed, do you have any experience with this? Also I am just sprouting some of the grain they seem to like that alondg with oyster shell and some Fertrell minerals, would be interested in your thoughts.

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