Sprouts are one of the VERY BEST ways we can offer whole food nutrition to our birds. They contain the digestive enzyme amylase that aids in the digestion of starch, that hard, waxy molecule that is very difficult to digest, absorb and metabolize. Don't get me wrong, starch has its place in our birds' diets, but it needs to be fed as an "alive" food, not dead and dried out as we all previously fed it to our birds in the form of cooked grains and legumes.
By sprouting our birds' grains and legumes, and even seeds we activate the starch molecule bringing the seeds, grains and legumes back to living foods! Sprouting also increases other digestive enzymes the B vitamins, as well as Vitamins A and C. Sprouts contain hemicellulose fiber and pectin, not cellulose. So it all adds up nutritionally for our birds! Say "Winning!" :-)
How to Sprout~
I like to rinse my seeds with FOOD GRADE 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can buy that here: http://the-living-earth.myshopify.com/products/498
Some seeds/grains/legumes actually sprout better if they are soaked overnight. Beans and rice fit this category. Rice can be especially difficult to sprout. I like to soak these items in the 3% H2O2 solution overnight.
Food grade H2O2 comes as 35% and MUST be diluted. Use 1/8th cup of 35% H2O2 to ONE GALLON of filtered water to bring it down to 3%. You do not need to rinse the hydrogen peroxide off the seeds. Now cover the seeds with the moist paper towel if you using the stainless steel bowls linked above. If you are using another method of sprouting with lids simply place the lids on.
Place your sprouting equipment in a cool dark area and let the sprouting begin. I like to sprout in an area that is about 72-78 degrees F. Cooler and the sprouts will not sprout well, hotter and they will begin to mold.
Rinse your sprouts several times a day, as many as 3-5 times a day to prevent souring, mildew and mold. It's really THAT easy!
In about 2-3 days, or earlier, you will begin to see a tiny tail. THAT is when your sprouts contain amylase! And THAT is when you want to stop the sprouting process! You DO NOT want to grow your sprouts any longer than that. The longer they grow the less amylase the sprout contains and the more cellulose the seedling develops; we don't want that.
Now you are ready to cleanse the sprouts for use.
Rinse the sprouts in filtered water.
Now soak the sprouts in 3% FOOD GRADE H2O2 for about 15-30 minutes. After soaking in the H2O2 soak two times in filtered water for about 3 minutes each. Now you are ready to feed to your flock!
Store any unused sprouts in the refrigerator and rinse again just like above before feeding each time. OR...you can dehydrate in your Excalibur Dehydrator ( http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com) for 24 hours at 115 degrees F). You can store dehydrated sprouts for up to 6 months in an airtight container in a dark, dry, cool pantry. The ONLY thing dehydrating removes is the moisture. Almost all of the nutrients remain intact.
*I do not suggest sprouting for feather destroyers due to the amount of histamines and salicylates sprouts contain. However, after a bird almost completes our Mutilation Syndrome Program™ you can attempt to offer sprouts to see if your bird can tolerate a limited amount of sprouts. Stay away from sprouts that are spicy.
Equipment for Sprouting~
We don't sell the sprouting equipment, except for stainless steel bowls that I absolutely LOVE! When I am sprouting just a very small batch for our personal sanctuary flock I use these bowls:
I have used these for years and find them to be perfect for small batches.
I simply cover the sprouts with white paper towels, keep the towels moist and in a couple of days I have luscious sprouts!
Other options for sprouting are available on this website:
I really love the Easy Sprouter: (Their website is kind of confusing, but their product is great!)
This product can be used to grow both sprouts and microgreens.