With much of my pasture burned in a summer fire, I had to find extra food for my horses this year. I wanted nutritious food. Grass, or hay, is the food that horses (as well as all grazers) need in bulk. My pasture is as organic as it can be, with spraying done all around me. So I really didn’t want to resort to buying hay that had been subjected to all the usual pesticides and fertilisers. Try and find one which hasn’t…
I did manage to find a local supplier of meadow hay, as opposed to the oaten hay so common here, which had only been treated with super-phospate fertiliser. A compromise while I did some more research.
Feeding whole grain can be wasteful, as much is passed through undigested. I also rejected cooking grain as this destroys much of the nutrition.
You may have heard about sprouting grains. A seed is a power storehouse of nutrition, to get the plant started in life. As a seed, this nutrition is latent, locked away for when the seed germinates. This nutrition can be safely stored for years, even centuries.
Wheat grass has become a common human food supplement in the health food industry. And there is a lot of chlorophyl in wheat grass which is healthy, not just for grazing animals.
Eating seeds does have some benefit, but by sprouting them, a lot more is released. So eating sprouted seeds is MUCH more beneficial for you than just eating the seeds. This is true for nuts too, as they are also seeds, all-be-it larger ones.
Sprouted barley grass is a new and booming industry as a cost effective and nutritional alternative to bulk feeding grazing animals. This is normally winter in the northern hemisphere, but is summertime here in Western Australia.
The grain is sprouted and then allowed to grow to a short length. The whole product is fed to the animals. From memory, I believe you get something like 10 – 15 kilos of grass for every kilo of grain. And it only takes an average of 10 days from sprouting to eating.
To me this sounded an ideal alternative. I managed to find a certified local organic farmer who sold both oats and barley, so went to work testing this out.
To get your grain sprouted and then growing, you need to have a controlled environment as both the humidity and the temperature need to be controlled within fairly narrow limits. I turned a cupboard over to this, but it quickly became obvious that you really need a specially fitted shed, with all the water used. Well, that may be feasible for farmers and the like, but not for me with three retired horses.
So I compromised. I decided that I could sprout the seeds and feed that. Sprouting the seed doubles the amount and can be achieved within four days. I can do this in the house, with its more controlled environment than outside. I rinse the seeds with warm water in winter and more often in summer.
And the bottom line is the horses love it. More nutrition. Less wastage. Better health. Economical. Nutritious food. Well worth spending the time to get it going, even if it does make your kitchen look more like a grain store…