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How And Why Ferment Chicken Feed

How To Ferment Chicken Feed For Better Health And Eggs

by Helen
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Now that you have decided to raise backyard chickens, let's discuss fermenting chicken feed.  First, there are a lot of benefits of fermenting chicken feed, for starters, healthier hens.  Plus, you can cut your chicken feed bill by fermenting.  Anyone who knows here at BamBam's Coop, our chickens are not egg-laying machines.  They are beloved pets that produce great-tasting, healthier, fresh organic eggs, which are more beneficial for us.  Therefore, we don't cut corners regarding the quality of feed that provides them top-notch nutrition.  In addition, one of the extraordinary things we do for the girls and BamBam is feed them fermented chicken, Scratch, and Peck Chicken Food.

Health Benefits And Chook Treats

Also, fermenting chicken feed has a long list of health benefits.  For example, the absorption of nutrients from the grains is higher, better digestion, and consumption of probiotics Since my chickens get to free range on several acres.  Therefore, they consume a lot of protein; chickens need it.  It is an excellent idea to provide them with protein treats to boost their protein consumption.

Also, you may think it is hard or time-consuming to ferment chicken feed, but I will walk you through the process and tell you about the wonderful benefits of fermenting; fermenting food is not just for humans but also for our beloved pets.  Additionally, fermenting the feed, from start to finish, only takes a few minutes to make, adds a few days to soak, and helps save you money on the feed!  Therefore, it offsets the cost of buying Organic, non-GMO, and soy-free feeds; your girls will love it!  After all, we eat what our chickens eat through their eggs.  So, the benefits of fermenting chicken feed outweigh the extra cost of more nutritious feed.  Also, before I started fermenting, there was a lot of waste; the chickens would only eat what they liked and leave the rest behind.  Additionally, as a bonus, you'll your girls will lay more nutrient-dense eggs.

Scratch and Peck Chicken Food

Why We Ferment Our Chicken Feed

Wondering Lacto-fermentation is how good bacteria break down food sugars and form lactic acid.  Also, Lacto-fermented foods we eat include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.  In addition, lactic acid is a natural preservative that hinders the increase of harmful bacteria.  (Read more about preserving food with lacto-fermentation.  Therefore, beyond preservation benefits, lacto-fermentation also boosts or conserves the vitamin and enzyme levels, as well as digestibility, of the fermented food. 

Healthier Hens

In short, simply by keeping your feed submerged in water for a few days, lactic acid encourages the formation of natural probiotics, lowers pH, and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in the feed.  Healthy yeasts are also present in grains” or “wet mash” mixtures such as fermented chicken feed.  Fermentation not only preserves the vitamins in your grains but also produces new vitamins, primarily B vitamins like folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.  The best part of fermenting your chicken feed is it leads to more robust eggs, better hen health, and lower feed costs.  We have tried several different types of feed, from pellets to organic grains, and we always come back to Scratch-And-Peck Chicken Organic Layer Feed.  In my opinion, it is the best feed to ferment.  Urban chickens can benefit from fermented feed.

If you need help getting started, Scratch and Peck Feed a Fermenting Starter Kit is very helpful.

Ferment Chicken Feed

How To Recipe for Making Fermented Chicken Feed

Select Your Container Of Choice For Your Fermenting Your Grains Or Pellets

  • For a smaller flock, a half-gallon or gallon mason jar
  • For a larger flock, a large food-grade plastic bucket, 5 Gallon Bucket
  • You can even use a large, deep glass bowl

Step 1: Combine Feed & Water

First, fermentation makes the feed somewhat acidic; using glass, ceramic, or BPA-free plastic is best.  Therefore, the container should be big enough to hold a day of feed for your flock and some extra room for the expansion of the grains, excess water, and daily stirring.

1) The first step is to add enough chicken feed to the container for one-day servings of food for your flock.  We typically ferment one and a half cups of feed for one day unless I feed them twice and then use two jars.  

Save Money On Feed

We usually don't feed two jars because my chickens have 18 acres to free-range; we have a small flock of 12.  Any feed can be fermented, including crumble, pellets, or whole-grain.  In my experience, grain feed holds up the best; the others expand more and get mushy, making it harder for my chickens to eat.  2) Add enough dechlorinated, well water, or filtered water over the top of the feed until the feed is fully submerged and has a couple of inches of room to expand.  I like to mix it after adding the water; typically, I add more.  Since chlorinated water may hinder healthful fermentation, it is best not to use it.  If needed, boil some water. 

Step 2: Let It Ferment – Waiting Period

Covering the top of your container with a loose-fitting lid, plate, or other makeshift lids would be best.  Also, please do not make it airtight!  The purpose is to allow gases to escape and prevent drifting mold spores from falling in.  We leave our jars on our kitchen counter for easy access and monitoring; it makes keeping up with them and remembering to stir them.  Also, if the top of the feed is exposed, add about an inch of water.  You never want your feed to be exposed; mold can proliferate.   You should see tiny bubbles on the surface/or within the feed mixture by day, two or three, a sign that lactobacillus is hard at work!  It should smell slightly tangy, sour, and sweet – similar to yogurt or yeast.  The liquid will also get increasingly cloudy.  If your need develops mold or rotten odors, do not feed it to your flock!  When in doubt, throw it out.  Our magi number for fermenting is three days; our flock prefers the feed at day three. 

Chicken Feed

Step 3: Final Step - Drain & Feed

Last, if the fermented chicken feed hasn’t absorbed all the water, you can drain it or keep it to jump-start your next batch.  I use a small strainer to drain the brine and use it for my next batch; the lactic acid bacteria in the “brine” will speed up the fermentation on your next batch.  Also, stay ahead of the game; considering it takes several days to ferment, I like to stagger my batches.  I start my one batch on day 1, then another on day 2, and so on.  This way, I always have fermented feed on hand.   

Note: Feed that is not underwater will spoil faster than when it is submerged.  If any feed is leftover,  refrigerate it and feed as soon as possible. 

Essential Oils In Fermenting Water

Read about it – click on this tip:  1 drop of (Doterra is the only brand I use) Thyme Essential Oil to 1 gallon of water.  I use this water for my fermentation.  Thyme is a natural antibiotic.  It has many good benefits for your flock; it keeps them healthy.   

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