How To Sprout Wheat for Your Flock

This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.

Winter is coming. Or is it already here? These chilly, cloudy days in the 30's tell me it's here, I don't care what the calendar says. With the onset of winter comes the season every chicken keeper knows well. The no bugs and green things season. Poor chickens, they're going to have to survive on feed, scratch, and maybe some oatmeal if you're feeling generous. Or are they? 

I saw a post about sprouting fodder for your flock sometime in September when the days were still warm and sunny, and I thought, "Huh, I wonder if I can really grow that stuff inside when it's cold and the sun hides for days." I grew four batches of wheat grass when the weather was nice and they didn't really need it. Huzzah! Stuff grew like weeds! In 7 days I had luscious, tall, wheat grass to feed the ladies. I was going to be their winter hero. I promptly bought barley and oat seeds to sprout as well, but after reading the directions decided those were more complicated and needed to be done once this was mastered. More fodder posts coming soon!

You know they are ready when they are tall, green, and nicely matted

You know they are ready when they are tall, green, and nicely matted

Fast forward a month and several successful sunny sproutlings later, I take my first stab at sprouting wheat grass when the temps are rarely over 40 and the sun hasn't been around for over a week. My wheat sprouts flop. I had kind of forgotten about them during the soaking stage, and I'm pretty sure I drowned them. Oops, this is not how I had planned this. How am I supposed to test to see if something works when I can't take proper care of it? Rhetorical question. I'm working on being more organized so things that can't cry, bark, or squawk at me get the attention they deserve. I'm getting better.

I gave it another go, and what do you know? it worked! They totally sprouted! Albeit, not quite as grandly as their sunny window, warm temperature, counterparts did. So you can sprout wheat for your flock in the winter, it just takes a bit more patience! So let's do this!

What do you need?

1. A pot with a lid, or use a big stoneware bowl and put a dinner plate over it. I used an enameled stoneware pot. It's going to be wet for seven days or more, so it has to be something that won't rust.

My aunt won my pot for me at a bingo tournament! Free wheat seed sprouter/dutch oven.

My aunt won my pot for me at a bingo tournament! Free wheat seed sprouter/dutch oven.

2. Your wheat seeds. I used Handy Pantry organic seeds and bought the 5 lb tub of them. You can start with 1 lb if you aren't sure this is for you. (Go for the 5 lb, this is totally for you).

The 5 pounder

The 5 pounder

3. A strainer with holes small enough that the seeds won't fall through.

You will be sad if you go to strain your seeds, and they all fall through.

You will be sad if you go to strain your seeds, and they all fall through.

That's it! No soil, no mess, easy peasy.

Day 0: Before bed, add enough seeds to your pot to lightly cover the bottom, and cover with water until just immersed. Put the lid over it, and allow to sit 6-8 hours.

Not too many! They plump up and will block each other from growing if the pot is too full.

Not too many! They plump up and will block each other from growing if the pot is too full.

Day 1: Remove the lid and fill your pot with water and pour seeds into your strainer. Rinse, and return them to the pot. Make sure there isn't a ton of water in the pot. The seeds should just be damp. Cover, and set somewhere the sun streams through, like a window. This will help keep the pot warm, but not let the sun in. For the first 3 days the lid will stay on the pot so the seed roots can sprout in the dark. In the evening, drain and rinse your seeds again. There will be little change day one.

*The instructions on the can say to rinse 3 times a day, but if you don't work from home what are you going to do? Drive home at lunch to rinse your seeds? Heck no! Rinsing twice a day is just fine. I did 3 times a day and 2 times a day on different batches and saw no difference.

Day 2: Drain and rinse once in the morning, and again in the evening. Keep the lid on your pot. You should start to see white roots emerging from the hulls.

Day 3: Drain and rinse once in the morning, and again in the evening. Keep the lid on. Roots will be more obvious now. Hulls will start floating to the top during rinsing and you can let those wash out. 

The end of day 3

The end of day 3

Day 4: You should have some shoots coming up with just a hint of green on the tips! If you don't, don't despair. In colder temps the seeds germinate a tad slower, so give it another day of rinsing and draining as usual, and keep them covered. If you have some shoots coming up, rinse and drain as usual, but leave the lid off. Time for those sprouts to get some sunshine!

The morning of day 4. Sproutlings!

The morning of day 4. Sproutlings!

Day 5: Rinse and repeat leaving the lid off. More hulls are washing away, roots are starting to form a nice mat, and shoots are darker green, denser, and taller.

Day 5

Day 5

Day 6: Keep it up.

Day 7: You know the drill, keep going. Good job not forgetting about your sprouts! This is the day you decide whether to let them  grow more, or feed them to your flock.

Day 7 on a cloudy week batch. I decided to let these grow longer.

Day 7 on a cloudy week batch. I decided to let these grow longer.

Day 6 on a warm batch that had lots of sunny days.

Day 6 on a warm batch that had lots of sunny days.

The temp in your house, and amount of sunlight streaming through the window are going to determine how tall your sprouts get. If you don't think they are ready, give them a few more days. I found that during warm sunny weeks 7 days was the perfect time. During colder, darker days, it took closer to 10, and some batches were kind of lack luster, but they still had lots of sprouts and roots, so weren't a complete failure. The point of this is to give your flock some fresh greens when there is none for them outside. Like all of December and January. 

Even if you live in a warmer climate, your flock can benefit from sprouting. These wheat sprouts aren't just for chickens either. Any creatures that like greens can enjoy. Even humans. I'm considering making some human batches for sandwiches. I'm having a harder and harder time finding fresh lettuce around here. Even the stuff at the grocer is bleh. 

FB_IMG_1508609059000.jpg

Did you try it? I'd love for you to share with me by tagging @rossroostfarm on Instagram, or paste a pretty picture on my Facebook wall. Is anyone using Facebook anymore? I'm just hearing crickets there lately.

Cheers!

Bev

This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.