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Fermented Chicken Feed

November 13th, 2013

I’ve been reading about chicken nutrition for a long time, in my reading I came across fermentation of feed. Since I know how healthy fermented foods are for humans, I decided to give fermenting a try for the chickens. My chickens have been on my own homemade chicken feed for six months now and they’re all thriving.
Chickens 2
I noticed a few changes when I started my chickens on fermented feed. For starters, the yolks on their eggs are much bigger than they used to be. They also have much smaller poop, oh yeah, and it doesn’t stink like it used to. I’m not really surprised by this, the same thing happened when we put our pets on raw food.
Chickens 3
Not only are they healthy and happy, they’re still laying like champs. I’m getting 12-15 eggs per day from my 18 layers, some of which are older ladies.
Chickens 1
I mix grain from a local grain mill, mostly wheat and oats that are fermented for 5 days in a big bucket by the wood stove in the kitchen. The chickens LOVE the fermented grain, the ducks to too, so do the guineas, and the pigs. Everyone gets fermented grains.
Chickens 4
This feed is local and organic, I also love that it’s soy, corn and GMO free.  The best part is that it’s 85% cheaper than the organic layer feed I used to purchase. It even costs me less than conventional chicken feed would, about 50% less than that, you can’t beat that. Healthy chicken and more money in my wallet!  If you have chickens and want to know all about it, I’ll be recording a podcast about this as well and writing a post about it soon.

Have you ever heard of fermenting chicken feed? 

29 Comments to “Fermented Chicken Feed”
  1. Lemongrass on November 13, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Never hear of fermented chicken feed. My sister grows chicken for eggs and meat to sell and she ferments lime juice to add to their water. Their health has improve since she started using the fermented lime juice She grows tons of limes trees. She also adds pieces of fresh aloe vera leaves to their water.
    I allow my lime juice to ferment in the fridge and use it with my meals.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on November 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Susy, I’ve not heard of anyone else fermenting any animal food. I think you might be on the cutting edge. Your egg production is great for this time of the year so something must be working. It’s always a treat to hear about your ideas and innovations for homesteading. We readers are so fortunate that you take the time from your busy schedule to blog and podcast about what you are doing. It’s a never ending experience of learning to open the blog post every morning.

    Have the greatest day ever on the Maine homestead.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. DebbieB on November 13, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Does the fermenting grain smell bad in the kitchen?
    DebbieB´s last post ..Rainbow Candy – 1st Color, Burgundy

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    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Nope, you can’t even smell them really. When I take the lid off the container there’s a slight yeasty smell. Fermenting is different than going bad, it’s actually a pleasant sourdough type smell.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Deb on November 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Is that all the feed you give all your animals? How do you ferment enough for the pigs too. Is a feed mill like where we took crops to be stored or sold and they would mix lamb feed for ourgrowing lambs? Not usre if that’s what you mean. Am interested in possibly trying it.
    Thanks for the posting.

    Reply to Deb's comment

    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Yep, it’s all we feed, the pig food gets fermented in big canning pots (they get 2 every day, right now about 40lbs of oats every day).

      You could do this for your growing lambs with the feed you get, I’ll be posting more in depth about it when I have time to sit down and write the post.

      The mill we get our grain from processes grain for human consumption and they sell the non-human grade grains for people to use as animal feed, it’s different than an animal grain mill. I buy excess grain and mix them up myself.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Deb on November 13, 2013 at 11:50 am

        OOpps I didn’t elaborate. We had sheep when I was growing up 35 yrs. ago. We took crops to the elevator and stored/sold them. then when lambs were getting weaned mom got feed mixed, not sure what all was in it, but molasses to encourage them to eat. Can you tell me how to find a mill that processes for human consumption? Thanks for explaining the difference to me. I really didn’t know.

        to Deb's comment

      • Deb on November 16, 2013 at 5:38 am

        How do you find a mill that processes for human consumption? Thanks so much. In NW central Ohio.

        to Deb's comment

      • Susy on November 16, 2013 at 9:02 am

        I spent a lot of time on google trying to find mine, it’s one of those things that usually aren’t advertised. Asking around to local farmers that feed local feed to their animals is also a good way to find local feed.

        to Susy's comment

    • hockey jerseys on November 16, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Thank you! Really, really useful!

      Reply to hockey jerseys's comment

  5. Melissa on November 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Would love to hear more about it. We have been looking into buying bulk grains for our ducks!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Our ducks LOVE the fermented grains and are thriving, even the babies are doing quite well eating whole grains.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Erika on November 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I have be researching sprouted grains for our dairy goats and cows. This gave me some ideas though I don’t know if fermented would be good for the them. Though your basically making silage which is fermented on a much bigger scale and that is fed to cows.

    erika

    Reply to Erika's comment

    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Yes, fermenting is actually an old practice, I have some circa 1800’s farming books and every singe one mentions fermenting or souring grains for livestock. I have read that Sally Fallon ferments and/or soaks grains for her cows on her dairy.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Sam on November 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Hadn’t heard of fermenting feed until you mentioned it on the podcast. It sounds really interesting! Would it be something you’d recommend for absolute beginner-chicken keepers? We are looking to start our own little homestead in the next year or two with lots of farm critters (we live in town now and have no experience aside from dogs, cats, and a tarantula), and are trying to figure out the best ways to get started without getting overwhelmed!

    Reply to Sam's comment

    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      It’s actually really easy, I’d highly recommend it for a beginner, there’s really no way to get it wrong. It’s also good to get the rhythm down from the start.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Jennifer Fisk on November 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I have heard of feeding animals fermented grains but don’t remember if chickens were mentioned. I would love it if you would go into more detail about this as I’d like to try it.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  9. Miranda on November 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Question – do you rinse, like for soaked fodder. Or are you just soaking? No mold? I’m afraid i’d be risking some mold here in land of damp…. though i ferment plenty of other things…. i do get some mold on the top. Do you crock? or just soak. so many questions! haha.
    the other would be – do you have a bunch of these buckets going at a time to stagger the feed? i think i’d rathe rnot have a bunch of buckets of stinky grain in my house. ha!
    Miranda´s last post ..Fiber Friday: A Custom Baby Mobile with Duck Tolling Retrievers

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    • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Nope, no rinsing, it stays completely submerged in water for the five days, since there is no oxygen, there’s no mold. It’s just like making sauerkraut. You might get a white scum on top of the water, a yeast bloom of sorts. You can mix it in when straining out the grains. I have seen mold issues in sprouting if it’s not rinsed enough, fermenting is much easier than sprouting in my experience. I’ll still probably do fodder in the winter, but it’s much more labor intensive than fermenting and there is the risk of mold.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Miranda on November 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        do you cover it with cloth?
        Miranda´s last post ..Barn Renovations! Part 3: During

        to Miranda's comment

      • Susy on November 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm

        No, I have an old tray that I set on top of the bucket, but that’s mostly to keep gnats and insects out. In the summer I ferment on the back porch where it’s nice & warm, in the winter inside by the wood stove.

        to Susy's comment

  10. Chris on November 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I love how the pigs and guinea fowl have such delightful manners when eating in each others company.

    A sure sign of malnutrition is when fights break out over the food bowl.
    Chris´s last post ..A little art

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  11. Sierra N Hampl on November 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I look forward to the podcast! Our chickens are still laying regularly so that’s been nice.
    Sierra N Hampl´s last post ..A Week in Pictures

    Reply to Sierra N Hampl's comment

  12. Tonya on November 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Yes, our friend does this too and her chickens also produce very well.
    Where do you get your feed?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Tonya
    Tonya´s last post ..New Spaces Inside

    Reply to Tonya's comment

  13. mandie on November 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I agree with Nebraska Dave’s comment!! I am looking forward to the fermented feeding podcast/post – the chicken coops and bee hives and gardens are currently being planned!! Spring is going to come so quickly!

    Reply to mandie's comment

  14. Sherri on November 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Suzy,

    THANK you for this post! I started fermenting the organic grain screenings that we buy for our hens and their egg production has tripled (closing in on quadrupling) even though it’s nasty cold out (-25C). Absolutely brilliant!
    Sherri´s last post ..Winter Preparations

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  15. Steve DeGoosh on December 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Hi, thanks for the interesting post.
    fyi, it was shared on FB by Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture.
    My wife, Brooke, and I are planning to move to Maine in the near future… perhaps our paths will cross.
    Best wishes, Steve

    Reply to Steve DeGoosh's comment

  16. Pam on January 9, 2015 at 10:48 am

    These are awesome posts but I guess I need more detailed instructions since I have never heard of fermented grains before and would definitely like to try it. When you say “grains” what is the mixture? So you take the grain and add water, cover and let sit for 5 days. Do you add anything to the water?

    Would love to hear more, thank you.

    Reply to Pam's comment

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