Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Barley growth

Well our barley project started quite sloppily the second weekend in February. However, things have really worked out well. Our makeshift stand works wonderfully to keep the seed wet and draining at all times. It can hold 6 trays, which is how many days it takes to really get nice growth. Once we get this going for a week or two more we will be producing 4-8 pounds of fodder every day for our sheep and chickens!

So, if you are interested in trying this out, here is how we put everything together..
trays we bought, with holes in the bottom for draining


  • 25 lbs bag barley,whole (wheat works as well, but barley really took off easily)
  • two 5 gallon buckets, cleaned out
  • 7+ gardening trays (with holes if you can find them, if not prepare to drill some holes)
  • Drill, for holes in one of the 5 gallon buckets and maybe the trays
5 gal bucket for draining with holes drilled

The holes in the bucket weren't so bad, but I don't think I'd enjoy putting holes in all those trays! It only took about twenty minutes to put in the holes, I probably put in about 50 small holes to help it drain.

So one tray will yield about 5-8 lbs of lovely fodder coming from one pound whole barley, which fills up a one quart jar. Colder months will obviously yield less fodder. We are doing ours inside right now (in February) and it's about 65 inside. So far, so good. It doesn't need direct sunlight, especially since it needs to stay wet at all times. Wet and draining at all times, remember that!

Now once we have some holey trays& one holey bucket, let's begin! 

  • Measure out about 1 quart of barley, mason jars work well for this. This will give you about 1 pound of barley which will fill those trays out nicely. 
  • Put the barley into the bucket without the holes& cover it with water, plus extra for it to expand.
  • Let it sit like this for twelve hours, then pour into the holey bucket for draining
  • Once you've drained some of the excess out it's time for the trays. You still want everything wet remember!
  • spread it out into a nice layer, between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch so that it stays wet but still drains nicely. 
  • Now it's just watering, 2-3 times a day. I pour  a bit on to soak everything and have it drain into other levels. During the day I take a spray bottle of water and just spray any spots that seem to be getting a little dry
  • After about 7 days, you will have lush, green fodder your pets will LOVE!
Our makeshift stand for draining and growth inexpensive and
not too difficult at all! Works wonderful

A small tip, once it's ready for the chickens/livestock, you'll want to break it up. For chickens its nice if you break into smaller pieces and get your fingers in there to break it up, this way they will eat all of it. For other livestock, we give it to our sheep, we give nice clumps that they just pull apart happily.

Here are the ever so exciting shots of the barley at different points. I skipped the beginning, that's just boring. But, tried to get the most important parts. The first two days is REALLY boring, but don't lose hope! Once you start to see those little white "strings" coming out, things will really start happening!

Day 3, finally showing some growth!
Day 4, a nice little mat forming
Day 6,  looking great
Day 5
Day seven, ready to go!

It all broke up pretty nicely for all the critters, but look at that thick mat! We were really excited with how this first week went, here's hoping it keeps going so well.

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