Time and I aren’t on the best of terms so I thought that yesterday was Monday and wrote a post about growing fodder for chickens. I got all worked up too, thinking that I had missed my usual composting round that starts with Cafe Sia for their morning coffee grounds.
So, how am I to make it up to you? I’ve been promising Monday posts for a while and usually get them in.
Let me tell you why I was so excited to get todays post in yesterday.
I’ve been experimenting and documenting ways to increase the efficiency of grains as chook food. We want to reduce our dependence on grain and reduce our expenses too. A 20 kg bag of good, locally mixed poultry blend is about $26. During Winter, this has been lasting us around a little over a month. That’s for four chickens, a flock of sparrows, two doves and a rat or two.
We’ve found that Wheat and Barley (at $18/30kg bag each) is the cheapest way to buy grain but it lacks balanced nutrition and variety – our girls do love their Sunflower seeds.We don’t want to replace the blend completely, it has added shell grit, vitamins and minerals but we’d like to cut its use in at least half.
A Wheat and Barley mix can be fermented, sprouted or grown as fodder. We’ve had great success with all three and we’ve put up a page dedicated to growing fodder. I can add to this as I learn more but our basic technique is quite sound and reliable.
Sprouting is next on the list. I’m waiting to get some better pics before posting about that one. Fermenting is easiest. What can be easier than throwing some grain in a bucket of water and leaving it for a few days until it ferments. The chooks will take this over anything on offer. I cut costs even further by throwing in the ‘spillage’ from the grain dispenser to ferment that. Spillage is what I call the pile of uneaten grain left on the floor after the girls (I’m looking at you, Demeter!) have picked through to take out their favourites. Usually, it’s Wheat, Barley and cracked corn, so it ferments quite well.
I’ll be posting and putting up a page about each of them and will add info about the nutritional value of each too. They also add moisture, fibre and, in the case of fermentation, probiotics, all of which add variety to the flock’s diet. I think that the different textures also keep the girls interested in the food.
The next big thing that’s happening at Ligaya Garden (I’m never sure if that should be ‘at’ or ‘in’ Ligaya Garden because it’s both) is the TOTAL GARDEN OVERHAUL. That sounds good in big letters and is quite a big event that means mess, wreckage and general carnage throughout Jelina’s usually tidy garden.
I’m moved a lot of pots, got rid of quite a few plants that we don’t use or only lightly use but have multiples of. We’re streamlining what we grow to make the small space more efficient.There’s a new greenhouse, given to us by Danny and that is sitting where our sun lovers used to be – they’re moved to along the side of the driveway, at the Southern end of the block. The worms are temporarily housed in the greenhouse as their home at the end of the chicken house, which doubled as a workbench, is demolished. We want to extend the space in our sitting area and make a permanent place there for our chimenea so that it will warm us, our visitors and the chooks in the cold weather. That’s why that bench had to go.
I’ll be reusing the wood from that in the space between the rain tanks. That’s going to be a little bench/storage area where the worms will live permanently, on little raised platforms to make maintenance and harvesting easier.
All of that’ll make the whole garden flow much better and make moving around, carrying stuff and harvesting stuff much, much easier. It’s such a small space that we need to maximise everything.
It’s all go at Ligaya Garden at the moment but if this all works as planned, we’ll only have a little labouring in Summer and can relax and enjoy the garden much more and that’s what I was told it’s all about…