Finding Quality Feed n’ Fodder

Well, we have a few more mouths to feed these days….

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seven, so far! …and so I’m looking into ways to get them good nutrition all winter long, as our pastures are taking a rest.

Apparently you can grow a good amount of green fodder indoors by sprouting grains such as oats and barley, so I’ve been searching all over the Willamette Valley for good quality and low cost grain.

The best way to get whole grain is direct from the farmer–you don’t have to pay middle men (mill and feed store), and you get the grain as fresh as can be. Unfortunately I haven’t met any farmers that grow oats or barley, so I’ve been looking at mills and feed stores.

The priciest thing I buy is chicken feed, because it has so many ingredients and it’s so hard to get without GMO content.  Last week I was at the feed store in Dallas Oregon, and I asked for a GMO-free layer feed.  They showed me the bag of “no corn/no soy” feed that they carry for those looking out for GMO content.  Among the first few ingredients were canola and alfalfa–both huge GMO crops. If you are buying anything mixed, you have the read to label carefully. I buy my chicken feed for just under $22 for a 40lb bag from a mill in Buxton.  It is guarenteed zero GMO, and it is fresh, because he mills in on site.  Buxton is out of the way unless I’m going to the beach, but he gives me five dollars off ten bags, which pays for my gas, if I’m already going to Forest Grove.

Next up was barley, which I am sprouting for my chickens.  I’ve read that they only need to be just barely sprouted to have the optimum nutrient content for layers, so I’m just soaking them for 48 hours.  The best buy on barley that I found was at that feed store in Dallas. It was $14 for 50lbs.  However, looking at the bag, pictured below, you can see that it is from Marion Ag in St. Paul. I called Marion Ag, which is actually closer to my daily drive than Dallas is, and they had it two dollars cheaper.  Image

Similarly, I got a bag of GMO-free alfalfa from Buxton that was from a mill in McMinnville, and so now I’m going to get alfalfa from McMinnville. I do a lot of grocery shopping at Harvest Fresh in McMinnville, so that works well.

Growing the oat grass is going to be more time-intensive.  It is slow and messy work, but I’m determined to try it.  It is just like the wheat grass that juice and smoothie vendors grow–you just need a plastic tray and some water, good light, and time. We will see how that goes.

After all of this feed-store chasing, I feel like a master detective, but I am pleased with my research. I have a plan and I hope to be learning more as I go about feed and fodder and how to optimize their nutrients!

…Oops.  I just turned around to see that Kirby, our sheep-herding Yorkie (who is up for adoption) is laying on my jacket, and there is still a fresh egg in the pocket!  He’d rather eat the chicken, I think.

Merry Christmas to all, and tell me if you want a stock-chasing Yorkie in your stocking!

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