In the winter, when the flock does not have access to pasture, I sprout the entire small grain portion of my feed mix -- and sometimes the peas as well.
When I feed both sprouted peas and sprouted grains, the chickens go for the grains by preference every time. When I return later in the day, however, they have usually cleaned up all the sprouted peas as well. There is no reason I shouldn't also sprout the whole corn, but doing so would leave little in the dry mix other than extremely fine ingredients -- flax seed, kelp meal, dried yeast, etc. Chickens resist eating feed of mostly small particle size.
Since I do not require a green sprout, my system is based not on sprouting trays but on six 5-gallon food grade plastic buckets. Two buckets are soak buckets (if I am sprouting peas as well as grains) -- four are drain/sprout buckets. The latter I drill with dozens of small holes, in the bottoms and half-way up the sides. The size of the holes is important: They must permit the flushing through of dusty debris, but not get blocked by a grain of wheat or oats.
Here is the schedule I follow when sprouting both peas and grains, assuming I desire a 5-day sprout:
Note that every day, every bucket gets a thorough rinse -- otherwise, the sprouting grains get "funky."
Sometimes I prefer to sprout the grains only, in which case I eliminate one of the soak buckets (and grind the peas instead, adding them to the dry part of the mix). Also, I might reduce the number of drain/sprout buckets, or increase, depending on how developed a sprout I want, and the point in the season. (In the winter, the sprouting process slows down, even in my basement which is warmed by waste heat from the furnace, thus I might add one drain bucket -- for an additional day -- to the system.)
The above is doubtless confusing when read off the page. If you play around with coffee cups representing the buckets as you follow along, however, you will understand how the system works.
© Copyright Harvey Ussery 2006. This content originally appeared at http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Sprouting.html