So even in a mild winter like this I get itching for something fresh and green that doesn’t come from the supermarket and I reckon the chickens feel about the same. The grass right now is sort of dry and brown when it’s not covered in snow or frost. The cabbages hung from their coop with care are quickly frozen solid or limp from thawing out. Sure, they get hot mash when it’s really cold but chickens are peckers.
Wait. That sounded bad. Let me back up.
They like to peck things with their beaky little beaks. Yes.
Chickens also get bored easily. Much like their human counterparts they think that winter is dull as dirt. But chickens don’t have TV’s and they don’t have hands so if they are bored or they want something green they have to wait until spring. Or until a friendly human happens by to help a chicken out.
Sprouts are the best of both worlds. It provides the greens that help chickens stay healthy in the winter season and it gives them entertainment. I know. Chickens aren’t very bright, bless their hearts. But sprouts have seeds attached and then there’s the green part so they’re happy.
You can easily grow sprouts at home without any special equipment. There are two basic ways of doing it.
1. Get a shallow shoebox or an old egg carton and fill it with dirt. You’ll need a few because you’ll want to plant fresh every three days or so to ensure a good supply. Moisten the dirt with plenty of water and sprinkle the soil with the seeds of your choice, pressing them gently into the dirt with your hands.
Place the box or carton under a light source out of cold drafts and keep the soil moist with sprinkles of water. Try to keep them warm. Once the sprouts grow to about two inches long go ahead and either set them in the coop for chicken-tainment or cut them off to eat yourself.
2. Get a large mason jar and poke several holes in the lid with an ice pick (or if you want to get fancy use a piece of screen or a double layer of cheesecloth).
Put the seeds in your jar, fill with water to cover the seeds, and let them sit overnight. The next morning pour out the water and put the jar in a window (no drafts, try to keep the jar moderately warm) until you see sprouts. Rinse them a bit and aerate them each morning so they don’t get moldy on you. Once the sprouts are to the desired length toss them out with your chicken’s morning feast or eat them yourself. I suggest keeping several jars going at a time. Chickens seem to enjoy this method the most because they can eat the little crunchy seed ends. I’ve always had a bit of a hard time with it because I usually forget to rinse my seeds and they go moldy on me which is why I do little compostable flats of sprouts.
When buying seeds make sure that they are either listed for sprouting or you find them for direct eating such as in a bulk bin at the grocery store. Seeds made for planting are often treated with chemicals.
Best seeds for sprouting
Do you have a favorite sprouting method or sprouting seed? How about a tip to give chickens fresh greens and entertainment in the dark months? Tell us in a comment below!