Fodder for feeding didn’t happen for me overnight. When I started out raising rabbits I took the route of every first time cuniculturist, I bought a bag of rabbit pellets and started feeding 4 ounces a day. It was easy, affordable, and functional. My first four does I had in a shed in hanging cages and the buck was lose on the ground. He wasn’t trying to escape, the loves of his life were in sight and he stayed close. His cage had food and water available and the door was open so he could come and go as he pleased. It wasn’t long before I realized he was barely touching his food. I monitored him more closely, checking his weight and general well being. His muscle was denser than the does and he was more slender but I chalked that up to the physical activity. So what was he eating? After a week I finally caught him eating my Bermuda / rye grass. Now, I know this doesn’t seem like a major breakthrough, rabbits eat grass, kinda common knowledge. But it made me wonder how many rabbits my yard would support. Turns out, not many. I don’t have the surface area to grow the tonnage to raise a bunch o bunnies.
So I started looking at hydroponics and vertical gardening. There are a TON of products out there screaming for you to try this and buy that, the info is clouded with commerce. I finally came across people sprouting wheat and barley then feeding it to their cattle and horses. THIS was the answer! But the systems they were using were HUGE and I’d need a few thousand meat rabbits to really justify the purchase of such a unit.
I started playing with small amounts of seeds in cooking trays, and found the system had to be automatic or it would suffer and fail. After a lot of time and money I had a system somewhat functional but it was ugly as sin! So I took to the Internet and started searching again.
It turned out that I wasn’t the only one working on a small solution to big feed costs. I finally found some folks that had done similar work as me, but theirs was pretty!
After a few LOOOONG conversations I decided to carry and retail their products. They are great systems and their results are consistent. One pound of barley(or wheat) goes into the tray, 6 pounds of barley fodder comes out after only six days! Barley seed in Phoenix is about 18-20 bucks for 50 pounds. That grows 300 pounds of fodder per bag so what was once 7 cents per day now costs less than 2 cents per day.
My goal was to maximize the productivity of my small yard, with fodder and rabbits my little homestead was churning out 1250 pounds of rabbit a month in a 2500 square foot backyard.
There are many methods to improve your sustainability and self-reliance, fodder is DEFINITELY worth pursuing.