An article called Secure and economical livestock feed appears in “Backwoods Home Magazine” for January/February 2014, Issue #145. If you have chickens, rabbits or goats, that article will be of interest to you because its author, Sherry Willis, describes a small hydroponics system that produces fodder for small livestock.
Growing livestock fodder using hydroponics has been done in Australia for a number of years. But Sherry wanted a way to do it economically and in smaller units. She’s figured out a way to bring it down to a manageable level for homesteaders and preppers. As a result of her efforts, you can grow fodder for small livestock at your urban homestead. I talked with her about it for DestinySurvival Radio.
The Fodder Freelancer
Sherry doesn’t let grass grow under her feet. Instead, she grows it in her living room. No kidding. And she’s a dynamic entrepreneur. But more about that shortly. Meanwhile, here’s a little background.
“Sherry Willis grew up on a ranch homesteaded by her great grandfather in the Wind River mountains where she learned self-sufficiency. She spent 12 years on a seven acre homestead where she raised chickens, sheep, horses, and Jersey milk cows. Sherry moved to the woods in Missouri three and a half years ago and discovered the beauty of the Ozarks and the joy of goatkeeping. She is now living in town in a small cottage and exploring self-sufficiency in urban environments.”
Sherry is the CEO of Half-Pint Homestead, and she sells her fodder kits for small livestock. By the way, I don’t earn any commission from the sale of her kits. But I think they’re something you should know about. And you’ll want to tell your friends, too.
Forming Fresh Ideas Into Fodder Kits
Sherry says living in town forces her to keep things small, compared to what she’s used to from past years. She keeps some chickens, rabbits for meat and goats for milk. It’s her desire not to produce more than what she can use. If you’re an urban homesteader who’s learning to work with what you have, perhaps you can profit from her example.
Drought and high feed prices caused Sherry to investigate growing food for her animals on site. She put her first hydroponics fodder kit together in September of 2012.
But she didn’t stop there. Knowing others might be interested in her kits, she began building and selling them. Demand was so great she quit her job a couple months later and hasn’t looked back. She not only sells the kits, but she has plans for those who want to build their own.
Growing fodder is economical. It costs less than $60 a ton. A few bags of wheat–750 pounds–will last Sherry a year. It’s possible to cut hay fed to animals by a third to half.
Plus, animals get more out of fodder because about 80% of it is digestable, compared to the usability of unsprouted grain. And Sherry prefers not to feed protein pellets because of its questionable content.
Most of the time Sherry prepares her grain for growing in her fodder kit trays by rinsing it a few times. This is similar to how bean sprouts are rinsed and drained. Once the trays are up and running, Sherry has fodder every day for her animals.
Her preferred grain for fodder is wheat. Barley will work, too, but is a little more difficult. She sometimes adds in sunflower seeds.
How many animals will a tray of fodder feed on a given day? You’d be surprised. For example, one tray will feed 40 chickens. Expect to feed about 30 meat rabbits. Or feed 4-7 goats, depending on whether they’re giving milk.
Another advantage to Sherry’s kits is you don’t need special lighting. window light or a fluorescent bulb is adequate.
The critical element is temperature. Room temps of 70-80 degrees work well.
Growing fodder does require attention, and Sherry says there’s a learning curve. But it’s certainly a source of livestock food you may want to consider.
Sherry’s kits come with a pump and timer. Use regular household outlets for power. But solar power will work, too. Sherry has used it on one of her units.
From Fodder to Other Stuff
If you want to grow microgreens, you can do that with her fodder kits, too. A key difference is that a grow pad is necessary, unlike for growing fodder. There are different requirements for microgreens and fodder, so they can’t be grown together in the same kit.
Sherry and I talked about other things she features on her Web site, such as the garden barrels she uses to grow a surprising amount of food. They’re like large strawberry planters with holes in the sides of the barrels. She has also configured what she calls the GunniGarden for growing potatoes.
Further Fodder Findings?
Listen to my conversation with Sherry Willis when you hear DestinySurvival Radio for January 23, 2014. (Right click to download.) Find out more about the sprouted fodder systems and other gardening related items at www.half-pinthomestead.com.
Could you use one of Sherry’s kits at your homestead? It is fodder for thought, isn’t it? (Hmm, bad pun, but a good idea worth considering.)