Quartz Ridge Fodder System 2.0

After running our successful fodder system for six months we decided to make some much needed improvements. We have found that the plastic trays crack pretty easy when the trays are holding fully grown fodder. Replacing the trays on a monthly basis was getting costly and we looked for a more permanent solution. We also were hand watering all the trays and it was adding to our daily chore time. Also, when it came to drainage the trays were not as exact as I wanted and we ended up with a slightly muddy floor on occasion.

After doing some research on various fodder systems we decided to use rain gutters for the hardware store. We found that two 20 foot rain gutters was a little more than the 6 trays of fodder we were producing. We used a wood frame to support the gutters and made sure that they were set at an angle of 1.5” drop every 10 feet. So, for our 20 foot span the height difference between the two ends is three inches.  




On the higher end of the gutters we have an automated watering system. We are using a a sprinkler timer set to go off every 6 hours for 12 minutes. Pretty much we run enough water through the system so we have clear water coming out the other end. It will all depend on your gutter or tray size, your angle and your drainage. So make sure that the entire length of the fodder is getting a good rinsing.



Using PVC plumbing we have the water flow into an Orbit Adjustable Flow 8-Port Drip Irrigation Manifold for 1/4″ Tube.




The manifold allows us to direct the water into the gutters using 1/4” drip line. The manifold shown in the photo below is not one I would suggest due to it leaking.




The manifold allows us to direct the water into the gutters using 1/4” drip line. We also placed an in-line control valve on the 1/4” drip line so we can stop the flow of water the night before we harvest the fodder so it is not dripping wet. We have them attached with fancy binder clips. I have seen people drill holes in the end caps to put the drip line through but we wanted to be sure everything can be adjusted if needed.




The gutters are attached together using the coordinating parts from the home improvement store. Since we did a 20 foot span we had to put one connection and two end caps per gutter. This does get pricey BUT the cost of trays every month were getting to be a lot more. You can see the gutters we used here, and the coordinating joiner and end caps. Total we spend $25 on each gutter. We had been replacing approximately 30 trays a month at $2 each…so $60 a month in disposable trays over six months of growing fodder so far. We were basically throwing money away.




Here is a view down the fodder channel. We try to pour the seeds as even as possible to get a nice even mat at the end of the growth cycle.




At the end of the gutter, we have placed a bulkhead screen and washer to let the water drain out properly. You can find them at FarmTek or your local nursery. They are screwed into a PVC threaded-T and allows for the water to drain out via a PVC system. We have ours going out to the garden so we can recycle the water. I do NOT suggest recycling your water back into your fodder system as there is a lot of starch that comes of the seeds as they sprout. It will cause mold and slime issues.




We have found that some water pools at the end of the fodder tray and so we keep the seed back a bit from the drain to prevent mold or fermentation. It has worked so far and allows the fodder to stay fresh. At harvest, after 8 days, we roll the mat up and then cut it every few feet. It is then taken out to the animals to eat.




After we harvest the fodder, I turn the in-line valves back on and let the water flow a bit while I take a scrub brush with a bit of dawn soap and clean the gutter. At the end I use a bucket vacuum to suck anything that is left to make sure the trays are clean and sanitized. If you are having a problem with slime or mold it is a good idea to sanitize your trays or gutters with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.




If you have not seen our fodder routine you can read our blog post. The only thing we do differently now is put the seeds into the gutters instead of trays. I think in total it takes about 30 minutes out of my day to feed twice it twice a day. Most of the time is spent on cleaning the gutters to prevent mold.


Here is one of our many mischievous Muscovy ducks that likes to sneak into the fodder room and eat their way to fatness!




Our Daily Fodder Routine

A few people have asked what our daily fodder routine looks like. I had my daughter help us out to show you how quick and simple it is.

To soak our seeds we use a laundry bag that has small enough holes that the seeds do not come out. We place it into a bucket and then fill it with seeds.


We place it into a bucket and then fill it with seeds. We use 1 1/2 quarts per tray.


After we put enough seeds in. We close up the laundry bag.


Then we fill the bucket up with water and let is soak. At this point some people put in a little bit of bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. We have not experimented with this yet.


We soak our seeds for 24 hours.

Setting up your Trays

Start with your bucket of seeds that have been soaking for 24 hours…


Drain the seeds. We purchased an inexpensive laundry sink and use it to drain the seeds and also clean the fodder trays. It is important to wash them so you do not get moldy fodder.


We then fill the trays up to be about 1/2” deep with seeds. We use a 2 1/2 quart measuring cup from the paint department at the hardware store.


We then spread the seeds out evenly in the tray.


Then the tray goes on the rack and gets watered 2-3 times a day.


We plan on automating the watering in the next week. I will then experiment with watering times and amounts but for now a good rinse 2-3 times a day works great!

The Trays

We use garden trays that you can pick up at any garden store. I have found the best price on the trays are from the Greenhouse Megastore.

I use a Soldering Iron to punch holes into the tray for them to drain.


Depending on how your trays are designed you will punch holes in the low parts of the trays so they drain completely and somewhat quickly. You do not want the seeds sitting in water for a long time.


The Results

It should take your fodder to grow from seed to lush barley in about 7 days.


When you walk outside with your bucket of fodder be prepared for this…


They chase me all the way down to the barn.

Then you can expect a lot of this…


A little more of this…


and this…


and this!



Our Fodder Room



I have been asked to show our fodder room to get an idea of the size of room needed to feed small ranch.

Right now we own 20 goats, a horse, 3 American Guinea Hogs, three Pilgrim Geese, 6 Muscovy Ducks and about 30 chickens. We are able to grow enough barley fodder to feed all of our animals in our small basement.

Our shelving systems measures 12 feet across (three 4 foot sections). I am able to feed all of the animals with the amount of trays we grow along with purchasing some cheap hay for the goats and some chicken scratch for the winter months.



We just added a drain so we don’t have to have a large container to collect the water under every shelf. I used a 4” ABS pipe and cut it in half. I then attached a piece to direct the water into a bucket. The bucket has a pond pump to take the water to the garden.


So when we water, the trays drain down like a fountain!



I have also been asked to see a daily photo of the growth of the barley fodder…





Now that we have the system set up we are now working on making sure our temperatures will stay between 60-75 degree for optimum growth. We are looking into a small heater to keep the room warm during the winter months. It gets pretty cold here during the winter. Our summers are usually not too hot but we do have heat snaps that can last for a couple weeks so we are going to be adding a small window air conditioner.

One additional step to make this system more automated will be to add automatic watering. I will update with what we come up with when we get to it!

Please feel free to ask questions via e-mail or on our Facebook page!

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!