Fodder fail: Another lesson learned

I hate to refer to any of my experiments or projects that don’t go as I expected as failures. In my mind a failure you didn’t accomplish anything. Quite the contrary I believe. Because I have a science background and use the scientific method for everything there is a hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.

I had a hypothesis. Could I make stacking fodder system that would save space and use vertical space rather than horizontal?

Experiment design, I used recycle ice cream buckets for my fodder beds. I cut recycled PVC pipes to use as risers for the fodder, give an air gap, increase airflow, and still allow one bed to drain into the other. Drilled holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. I could water the top one and it in theory flow all the way through. Each day I would add a new stack container of soaked seeds to the bottom. By day seven, the top container would always be ready to feed to the animals, just soak and add new seeds to the bottom each day. Boom, done.


What a stack could look like



Here is what I learned. A, never leave your experiment unattended when there is a 2 YO who wants to help. 20lbs of seed all got soaked at once. Here I wrote about that day. B, there is not enough airflow moving around the seeds, and mold will develop. C, stacking will allow watering the top, and draining all the way to the bottom. D, the next experiment will involve suspending the buckets rather than stacking. I should still be able to water one spot, save horizontal floor space, and increase the airflow to the seeds.

What the top looked like

This is the second layer


Third layer


I have come to realize that there is much more learning involved with doing than talking about it, talking about it on forums, and YouTube. More people should get out there and start doing, learning, and stop fearing failure. THERE IS NO FAILURE, only a lesson on what didn’t work. To not learn from experiments, trials, mistakes, then that is a failure, because you failed to learn anything, and gave up.

My next experiments:

No. 1: Will hanging the grow beds give more air circulation and prevent mold growth using the current ice cream buckets?
No. 2: When soaking wheatgrass fodder, what is the optimal time soaking vs. fastest germination. I have read and heard, various times. I have heard 30 min, 12 hr 24 hr and varying results with each. I plan on soaking for 30 min, 1 hr, 3 hr, 6hr, 12hr and 24hr.

4 responses to “Fodder fail: Another lesson learned

  1. I love experiments. Yes, you need more airflow. I’m thinking some more like stacked soda crates with some kind of permeable and reusable liners…?

  2. Sorry to hear about the mold. As you and the above commenter know, you likely need more airflow. If that fails, you can also add a tiny amount of bleach to your water, although I haven’t had to do so. I know bleach is all good for purifying drinking water if need be, but I’m still not crazy about adding chemicals to anything.

    How much are you trying to grow? As we talked briefly about before, I use five 6 liter tubs, and half of one of those tubs are perfect for what my 7 layers will eat. Any more and it goes to waste. I don’t stack my tubs, it only takes 30 seconds to dump a little water into each, and I’ve never seen any mold.

    Good luck with Version 2!

    • Thanks Mike, I am trying to stay away from any chemicals. This was an experiment with the ice cream buckets. We had a surplus, and eventually I wanted to scale up to 5 gal buckets or larger. I try to do everything I can as cheaply as I can, unless there is no other way, especially with experiments. This cost me a little on the seeds that were molded, and even those will go to the compost pile. Other than that I had everything laying around, and will reuse most of it. I didn’t want to waste the 5 gal buckets if the smaller ones didn’t pan out. We have 19 birds, and the experimental size would never be enough. With 6 people in the house, not having a bunch of extra room, and sub zero temps outside I was attempting to maximize what space I did have. Like you said V 2.0 will try something different. I would eventually like to use the 30 gal barrels I have so many of. Start small to see what does, and does not work.

  3. The biggest thing I have learned about doing fodder is to wash out your containers every time you empty one with hot, soapy water and a scrub brush and then wash it again just for good measure. Wash it on all sides. Wash your soaking bucket, too. Wash out your scrub brush. All it takes is one bit of mold in one bucket to wash down on the buckets below it and all buckets will get moldy.

    I started using a capful of bleach in my soaking water. I didn’t want to, but it has helped. What I do is I soak the seeds for an hour or so in the bleach water, then I dump it into a colander and rinse off all the bleach water. Then I scrub the soaking bucket, transfer the seeds back to it, and wash the colander. I then soak it for a few more hours in regular water. I’ve experimented with time lengths of soaking and found that it doesn’t matter much how long you soak it for as long as it is at least 3 to 4 hours. The 24 hour soak seems to lead more to eventual mold. I don’t let it go more than 12 hours anymore. It’s usually closer to 6.

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