While surfing YouTube I came across the subject of growing animal fodder. The videos said that sprouting grains would increase the bioavailability of the nutrients from around 30% for whole grains to 70% for sprouted grains. Barley is supposed to be the grain of choice for a small indoor fodder systems, but I'm not exactly sure why. I tried to find Barley. Being in the deep South where Barley isn't grown, I couldn't find a source at all. The local seed stores called multiple distributors without any luck. I was able to find feed wheat locally at $11 for a 50 lbs bag. I have no idea what variety of wheat it is.
I have seen several custom built fodder systems, I but used what I had on hand. The shelving unit is a 3 tier wire shelving unit I purchased from Home Depot. I had purchased 2 of them and was using them side by side as a seeding station with my aquaponics setup which is on hiatus until I can build a new one on the farm. I scavenged one of the shelves from the second unit to make this a four shelf unit. I have this on my kitchen counter for now. I plan to switch to a full sized wire rack and increase production as I get more animals that will eat fodder. Right now we only have 16 chickens (6 of which are about to be harvested). Click here for a link to the shelving unit at Home Depot.
The black greenhouse trays are the ones that are commonly available. Click here for a link for these on Amazon. These are 10" by 20". They over hang the shelves, but the trays are sturdier than I imagined. I used the "no holes" variety of the trays and drilled my own holes. I started out drilling drain holes at one end of the tray with the smallest drill bit I had (1/16 inch). The water would not drain because of the surface tension of the water. Not wanting to add something like soap to break the tension, I re-drilled the holes with the next size up (3/32 inch). That seems to work just fine. The two empty trays on the bottom are to catch the water. I placed a piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe the length of the shelf to slope the trays to allow water drainage. I alternated the slope on each shelf. This allows me to water the top tray and the water flow will zig-zag down through the trays ending up in the empty trays at the bottom. I do not reuse the water. I've read that reusing the water increases odor and the likelyhood of mold/mildew.
I start the process by soaking 2.5 cups of the wheat berries in water overnight for roughly 8 -12 hours. In the morning I remove the day 8 fodder from the pan and wash out the pan with dish soap and water. Then I add the soaked wheat berries to the pan and spread them out evenly. Then I rotate the pans advancing them one slot. That way the day 1 tray is always on the bottom right. I don't like to pour water directly into the day 1 pan because it redistributes the seeds unevenly. The down side is that I have to move each tray either one spot to the left or up to the next shelf and rotate the tray to make sure the drain holes are on the correct end and the trays are lined up so that water doesn't go all over the counter.
This picture shows the final product after 8 days of growing. This is ready to feed to the animals. Please be careful feeding this to rabbits. Freshly grown fodder has a much higher moisture content than a rabbit's normal food of hay and pellets and can easily give them diarrhea. Any changes to animal's diet should be done gradually over a week's time to prevent G.I. tract upsets.
In my expanded system I plan to automate as well. I'll add 2 large reservoirs, one for fresh water and one for waste water, a pump, a timer and some LED rope lights. The counter top system I have currently gets adequate light from the Northwest facing kitchen window. In addition I plan to upgrade to some sturdier pans. I like the looks of these pans.
I will always try to post links to items I have used. I find that sometimes the hardest part of these projects is tracking down the supplies and equipment you need to accomplish your goals. Feel free to post any comments or questions you have, and I'll answer below or send you an email in response.