We've worked for quite a while now on our livestock "fodder" system, which is a simple, automated hydroponic system that grows grain for feeding chickens, goats, etc. It's been a little more complicated than we had hoped, as suppliers of some barley provide grain that sprouts poorly (why?) and we weren't able to ascertain in the beginning if the problem was our system or their seed. Now we have a baseline of reasonable expectations, so we know if seed is good or not right away.
The system itself is so tinker-toy simple, that at first I thought we'd be up and running in days. Ha! Like all things Morning Song, that which seems so simple is never thus. The system is humidity and heat sensitive, and because we set it up in our greenhouse, near the chicken barn, we had chicken-related seed theft that baffled us for weeks, on top of automated watering malfunctions that plagued us from the start. From time to time an occasional chicken flies the coop and pecks around the farm. A few ringleaders discovered the fodder system's treasure trove of sprouted seeds during an unauthorized foraging adventure. Chickens love seeds, sprouts, and tender leafy greens. So it doesn't get much better than a barley sprout for a chicken on the lam. It didn't occur to me in the beginning that the guilty-sprout-stealing parties were chickens. The system is off the ground, and each tray has little access for an animal that flies, plus the system was INSIDE the greenhouse and getting inside requires either an accidentally left open door, or quite the acrobatic endeavor through small tears in the greenhouse skin to actually break and enter. Just didn't seem like our perp was a chicken. Chickens are smarter than they look, that's all I have to say.
We've solved the chicken seed theft issue, mostly, and are working on expanding our fodder system so that our plan to shift from purchased, bagged feed as the primary offering, to freshly grown sprouts can be realized. We will continue to use Modesto Mills Soy Free Organic Feed as an ancillary menu item, but hope to provide the superior, fresh fodder we grow here, as our flock's primary food source over the next few months.
This system is modular, and makes sense even for a family with 2 or three chickens. At some point, we'll offer classes, supplies and the inexpensive systems themselves to those that would like to provide their backyard flocks the superior nutrition of home grown, healthy sprouts. Ask if you're interested.