Sprouting as a method for rabbit feed
In recent months, with feed costs ever on the rise, you may be thinking about alternative ways to feed your rabbits that are easy to grow, protein rich and can fairly easily be produced during winter months. Many of you have written to me in recent months asking if I think that sprouting grains is good way to supplement feed.
As a matter of fact, I think sprouts are a great thing to feed rabbits as they are very high in protein and other nutrients. They can be especially good during cold winter months when few other things will grow.
One very important thing to remember is to never feel moldy sprouts — which means that sprouting different types of seeds and oats in one bin is not suggested. You also need to be careful with commercial sprout packages because many of them are treated with fungicides and chemicals, which you don’t want to give your rabbits.
Here are some of the reasons why sprouts have continually gained popularity among poultry owners, and are gaining ground with rabbit raisers:
- Sprouted seeds are densely packed with nutrients. These are high in vegetable proteins, vitamins and minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll that are healthy for your herd.
- Sprouted seeds contain less fat. This is due to the fact that the process of sprouting makes use of the fat in the seeds to allow the growing process to begin, thus there is a reduced amount of fat left stored in the seeds.
- Sprouted seeds are an excellent alternative for fresh greens all throughout the year.
How do you sprout seeds?
Sprouting is the practice of soaking seeds in water overnight in the fridge. The ratio for soaking is 1-part seeds to 5-parts water. Once the seeds have been soaked overnight, you can now drain them and put them in a sprouting jar (or a piece of cloth propped up in a bowl will do too.) This will help to drain excess water from the seeds. Next, you’ll need to rinse the seeds several times a day until you see them start to sprout. Usually, you will notice the seeds sprouting within 24 hours. At that point, the sprouts are ready to be fed to your herd. In the next few days, you the seeds will continue to grow. At its different stages of growth, the seeds provide different nutrients for the rabbits.
As with other foods, introduce them slowly, with a teaspoon or so at first, and then work up until you can feed a few tablespoons of seeds. Barley and wheat are good options, sunflowers as well.
Although I said it before, I’ll say it again. Make sure that the seeds do not give out a foul odor before feeding them: if they do, discard them immediately. If steps are done properly and the seeds are well attended to, your freshly harvested sprouts ican last for up to 5 days. To prevent early spoiling, you can try adding a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide or GSE to the rinsing water but this technique isn’t usually necessary.
Those raising chickens feed sprouts a lot and there is quite a bit of information online from them about growing them in 5 gallon buckets and so forth. Some people sprout all their feeds because it’s more easily digestible. Here’s an article I came across that is using sprouts as a supplement for a rather large scale grow operation and it’s cut their feed costs considerably.
Problems you may experience with sprouting
There are only a few reasons resulting to your sprouted seeds becoming inedible and these are:
- Seeds are allowed to dry out – sprouting mix should be kept moist.
- Seeds are left in standing water for a long period of time aside from the initial 24-hour rinse.
- The sprouting environment’s temperature may be too high or too low.
- The sprouting seeds are insufficiently rinsed.
- Equipments used for the sprouting process are dirty.
- There is insufficient airflow in the sprouting environment.