Fermenting chicken feed... Why bother?! 'Cause it's fantastic! Here's how:

in #homesteading2 years ago

I ferment my chickens' feed. Full disclosure here, fermented feed doesn't look very pretty. It's actually kinda gross-looking.

 

That's okay though. The benefits of fermenting feed are worth it. And who says you have to sit around looking at it anyway?!

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Fermenting anything is pretty awesome. The act of fermentation creates an environment of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that are SUPER good for anything that cares to consume them! That's why probiotics are so highly recommended for people. This is a fantastic way to produce all that goodness for your feathered friends.

Some benefits that fermenting food will give the chickies include:

  • Probiotics galore!
  • Enzymes galore!
  • Fermentation makes the feed more easily digestible, meaning they absorb more key nutrients, AND they won't need as much feed since they are using it more efficiently!
  • It boosts their immune system, making the birds more healthy and disease-resistant.
  • It can increase the egg yolk size, frequency of laying, and strength of shell.
  • There is less waste. The chickens just eat the wet food right away, rather than scratching the dry feed all over the place.
  • The chickens stay more hydrated, especially in hot weather, since they are eating wet feed rather than dry pellets.

 
Now, of course, feeding fermented feed IS messier than feeding dry feed, since it is basically gloop. My hens free-range, so daily, I pick a spot in the yard to feed them, and just throw scoops of feed down, and they eat it all up. If I were feeding in a coop, I would probably use a couple of shallow livestock tubs to dump it into, and then later take them out and rinse them.

Here's how I do it!

First of all, I like to start with some leftover feed in the bottom of the bucket, to boost probiotic action, but if you are just starting, obviously you will just start with an empty bucket. You can glop in some yougurt, kefir, kombucha, or other fermented foods to jump-start the probiotics, if you like, but you don't have to; they will grow on their own.

Take a 5 gallon bucket, and dump in whatever feed you like to give your chickens.

This can include things like:

  • Layer mash
  • flock raiser pellets
  • different grains such as corn, barley, oats, etc...
  • BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds)
  • food waste like eggshells, veggie scraps, leftovers, etc.
     
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Next, add water to your mix.


(You can also add some milk for calcium if you like! I rinse out my goat-milking bowls and jugs and use the milky water in the feed.) I add just enough to cover the feed, so that the feed will be a thick oatmeal consistancy when finished. (It may take practice to get your consistency the way you like it.) There is no hard rule about this. I like it thick so it's easy to scoop and throw. If you are dumping it into a pan, it doesn't really matter how runny it is.

Once the water is in, I pick up the bucket and swirl it around a little to mix it up.

 
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I allow the bucket to rest for 24 hours. I used to only have one bucket and it would ferment for 12 hours only, (since I feed twice a day), but have since started using an additional bucket to allow each feeding to ferment for a whole day.

Once done, it should look something like this:

 
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Yeah, it's not pretty, but the birds don't care, they LOVE it!

I have both buckets sitting by my back door for convenience at feeding time. They each have a lid to avoid attracting flies. During the day, if there are leftover lunch scraps, banana peels, pan scrapings, whatever, they all go into the buckets.

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After feeding, I make sure and leave a little feed in the bottom of the bucket to jump-start my next batch. I just add my dry ingredients to this mess, add water, and let the process begin again!

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Hopefully some of you out there will find this helpful! Perhaps it will give you ideas on how to better feed your flock. I have been fermenting my chickens' feed for years now, and my chickens are happy and as healthy as can be!


 

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Thanks for reading!! Feel free to drop a comment with any hints and tips for feeding your chickens! What treats do they especially enjoy?


Have a lovely day! ♥

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Very cool! If I had chickens, I would try this!

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed!

Are you aware of @ghscollective?

I wasnt, but I am now, thanks!!

Great post. I am going to try it as my poor chickens are having a hard time with the heat. They are half pigs anyway and will eat whatever I put out.

Hahaha! Ours eat EVERYTHING too!

Hope they like it! :D

I know they will love it. Going to start it ASAP. Thanks for the tip. Much appreciated. 🐓🐓

I'll bet you have the happiest chickens in the neighborhood!

Haha! Im pretty sure I do! They are not confined to a coop, and as far as I know, Im the only one in the area that can let her chickens roam. :D
They especially love the leftover people food. ;)

great tip I will have to try this today!

My husbands friend owns chickens and he had a problem with the chickens pecking at their eggs. They thought the problem started when they started feeding the chickens egg shells.
I thought it was gross at the time, but I guess it’s no different than eating your placenta after birth. I’ve never ate my
Placenta but I was always curious about serving it on some crackers.

Are the pan scrapings only vegetarian scraps?

The farmers market egg guy says he feeds them kelp. Now that surprised me more than pan scrapings.

Ive heard of using kelp as a supplement. Its supposed to be pretty awesome, but its kind of expensive and my hens are great without it.

Egg shells are a fantastic source of minerals! Hens use up a lot of minerals creating eggs, and generally need a source of calcium. Some people use oyster shell, but I find they get enough between the eggshells and free ranging, that I havent had to purchase anything else.
Ive never had issues with egg pecking. I think that really stems from being confined too much and they are bored, and possibly fighting over nests and breaking an egg accidentally. They will clean up an egg that was stepped on and broken by mistake. I even had a neighbor give us a hen for the stew pot because she was a notorious egg-eater. She came from a very small coop. I decided to give her a chance, and it turns out she is quite a good egg-layer, and has not eaten a single egg while here. She is still runniing around outside, actually.

The pan scrapings and leftovers are whatever we have, so no, not vegetarian. They can eat pretty much anything. They are omnivores and while free ranging eat grass and grain, as well as insects and small animals. I have seen them catch and eat lizards and snakes. So I don't feel the slightest bit bad about feeding them leftover meat scraps or anything else. And yes, that includes chicken scraps. They do not care. :)

WOW, this is amazing! You are rocking it in your homestead. I learned another new thing. Thanks for this very well written article. Drinking fermented beers, wines, food, yogurt is good for us too, LOL!

Thanks!! :D Glad you enjoyed!

Dont forget kombucha! ;)

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Great work! I wish I had some chickens if only I were not such a chicken about having some. I never heard of this way of feeding them. Thank you.

Love

Thanks!! :D

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Awesome, thanks!! :)

Oh! This is interesting. I have a father in law who has a ton of chickens.. not sure if he does this or not but I'm going to share it with him!

Farm Fresh eggs are the bomb! Someday we plan on getting some chickens but we need have no neighbors first lol. The dogs around us would love to tear them up lol.

I know what you mean! We are blessed to have a chain link fence that keeps the roaming dogs OUT! People think they can just turn their dogs loose when they live out 'in the country'...

We love our fresh eggs too! ♥

We live just inside the city limits.. barely.. 3 doors down from the line. But our neighbors right next door are HORRIBLE at keeping their dogs in their yard. They do as they please, while ours have to stay being watched due to the other dogs wanting to act like they own our yard as well. eye roll

So I understand the frustration of the irresponsible part! Unfortunately.

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Wow, this is very useful. I now have a hint creating their own food, though i don't have a hens where i live but i will definitely share this to my father back home (in the philippines). He has lots of birds in our backyard. Thank you so much.

You're welcome! Glad you found it useful!