Treat Idea: Sprouted Grains for Chickens

I set off on a little adult science fair project this past week. I decided that in honor of Thanksgiving week, I’d try out a new treat for the girls. I placed an order for some raw organic, non-GMO barley and alfalfa seeds. You can sprout many different types of grain, beans or lentils. Please remember to never feed your flock dried, uncooked beans. They contain a toxin, hemagglutinin, which can be deadly for your chickens. However, when you cook or sprout beans, the toxins are destroyed and are safe to feed your flock.

I chose barley and alfalfa simply because they sounded good to me. These grains arrived in the mail, and as I endured the crazy looks of my family, I set to work. My husband has pointed out more than once that our chickens eat better than we do! But, what can I say? I told him he was more than welcome to throw some of the sprouts on his sandwich! That was the end of that conversation. Haha! Anyway! Here is what I did to create this wonderful healthy treat.

Materials Needed:

  • Glass quart jars and rings
  • Foil pans with lids (I put the lids under the pan with holes to catch the drips)
  • Cheese cloth
  • Water
  • Grains

I put about ¼ cup of grains in each jar and ½ cup in each pan. I rinsed them well and then filled up the containers and let the grains soak. They need to soak for at least 8 hours. I chose to soak them overnight.


After this, I drained them and rinsed them. It’s important to get all the water out after you’ve rinsed them so mold doesn’t start growing. I found it was so much easier draining the jars with the cheese cloth as opposed to draining the pans. It does get easier to do as the sprouts grow. Rinse and drain your sprouts 2 times a day. And that’s it. For real! One of the easiest and most cost effective treats I have found for our flock.


I happened to have all of these items at home outside of the grains. I decided to try sprouting both in jars and in pans to see which method I preferred. In the end, the barley grew better in the pan and the alfalfa grew better in the jar. I have no idea why.

The jars are definitely easier to rinse and drain your grains and take up less room. The pans, however, provide a little more grain and are easy to feed. Either way works great. I guess it’s a personal choice at this point. I’ll probably go with the jars because of the ease and they’re cute sitting on our counter.

It is so much fun to see the little sprouts shoot out and I fed them to my chickens on day 4 and 5. They were so excited! I noticed they seemed to gravitate towards the barley more. They eventually ate the alfalfa sprouts but were more excited about the barley.


It is important to note that sprouted grains should NOT replace a quality feed for your chickens. It’s a great way for chickens to get fresh greens if they’re not free-rangers or dealing with winter months. But, your chickens still need a good quality feed. And, of course, when you’re adding Chicken E-lixir™ to their water, they are going to be getting important vitamins and minerals and prebiotics!

My chickens are pets to our family and their health is very important to me. Finding inexpensive ways to care for them and provide nutritious treats is incredibly important to me as well. Healthy hens equal healthy eggs. And there’s nothing better than knowing you’re eating things that promote healthy, strong bodies for your family.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, friends!

–The Wing Lady

Published by Annie

Annie Wing is the author of Strong Animals Chicken 101 blog. She is a busy mom with 3 active kids. Annie and her family reside on an acreage in the Redwood River Valley in Minnesota. She enjoys gardening and her absolute favorite pastime is doting on her 28 chickens!