I started growing fodder by sprouting oats, then changed over to barley. Since doing so I have come across some differences between the two. Due to my region of the US oats are less expensive than barley. While barley sprouts much faster than oats, I have been getting denser root bases, as well as less mold with oat fodder. The barley in the area seems to have a lot of chafe in it, and when soaking the seed it is difficult to remove the debris from the barley. Once I switched to straight barley, I was losing every other biscuit to mold contamination. After I made the switch back to oats, 100% of my fodder biscuits are healthy, and feed-able to my horses!
Part of the mold issues are attributed to I was not using seed quality barley. I raised the amount of bleach concentration in my initial seed soak from 3% all the way to 10%, all this did was reduce my seed germination rates. I used cold water for all watering of the fodder, and increased the room ventilation. Next I switched barley feed I was purchasing and the new stuff I got my hands on was much cleaner which in turn meant less chafe, and less overall contaminated. Lesson learned here was to stay away from Ranch-Way grains, which come from a mill in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is the standby feed manufacturer in the west unfortunately, and typically is less expensive. It by far is an extremely dirty seed source and I tried for over 3 months getting mold under control with their grains with no luck. The discounted price is nothing more than an illusion as most of the seed I purchased that came from Ranch-Way molded once I tried to sprout it.
The only thing that stopped the mold was a product called Aqua Kleanse. The Aqua Kleanse stops mold without the use of harsh and dangerous chemicals. It is also a green product that is completely safe to use on fodder. While I have access to this product, I don’t like to use it mainly because you should be able to grow mold free fodder easily without the use of anything other than water, fertilizer, and clean seed. Every product you bring in affects your cost input into your fodder. For awhile Ranch-Way Feeds was all I could get my hands on in my region until Tractor Supply Company opened up a new store in my neighborhood. Once I switched to Nutrena whole grains I had zero issues with mold in either my barley or oat fodder.
Overall my horses seem to like the oat fodder better than the barley fodder. With the extended grow time of up to 12 days its worth it to end up with a heavier fodder biscuit in the end. I would encourage all of you to experiment with different grains and grain combinations. If you horse does not like one type of fodder try sprouting something else. If you can not find a clean barley source, I would recommend switching to oats. Oats tend to be cleaner overall than many other grain products. In the next few months I plan seeing how well wheat works for fodder and will keep you all updated.