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Pros and Cons of Fermenting Chicken Feed

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Hello, all you chicks and chickens! We’ve received a lot of inquiries regarding fermenting chicken feed. As our staff cares as much about your pets as you do, we believe in empowering our customers to make the best decisions for their furry and feathered friends. Therefore, were sharing a few recipes on how to ferment chicken feed. Additionally, were going to discuss the benefits of fermenting chicken feed as well as the challenges.

What is Fermenting?

Fermentation has been used since at least 4000 B.C. to make rice wine and to preserve foods. There werent any freezers back then, so fermentation was used by most cultures to improve food safety. Did you know that if it weren’t for fermentation, wed never have cheese or yogurt?! If any of you love Korean or German cuisine, kimchi and sauerkraut are fermented, too.

Foods that are fermented

The process uses naturally occurring bacteria to partially break down food. This improves the foods enzyme content and increases the vitamin B, C, and K content. The result is food is easier to digest and gives the usable protein content a significant boost. All the harmful bacteria disappear and leave the beneficial bacteria behind.

Recipes

A quick note on your flock's nutritional needs… we have several blogs on what to feed your chickens, such as this one on chicken feed. ​

However, before making any changes, we recommend you contact your exotic vet first. Your vet knows your animals better than anyone.

We’d like to thank Rita, from Rabbit Track Trail Rescue in Colorado and Kim from Wyoming for sharing their fermenting grains for chicken feed recipes. Were sure youre wondering how long does it take to ferment chicken feed. Answer: it takes 3-4 days. As for how long does fermented chicken feed last, the feed must be served within 24 hours, or it goes sour. Our very own chicken wrangler, Shelby, freezes her fermented feed in bags and gives it to her hens weekly as a treat block. No matter how you feed it, the texture is like potting soil.

Rita's Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Sustainable Chicken Scratch
  • Natural spring water
  • Three 5-gallon buckets (she always has 3 buckets rotating while preparing the fermented grains)

Day 1: Put the scratch in a bucket but be sure not to fill the bucket as the grains expand. Pour enough water over the scratch to cover it. Place a towel over the top of the bucket or the lid and let it rest overnight.
Day 2: Uncover and stir the mixture to discourage mold. Add more water to make sure the scratch is covered. Cover the bucket again and let soak overnight.
Day 3: You can repeat day 2 or drain water and serve to your chickens. 

Sustainable Chicken Scratch

Kim's Recipe

Ingredients

Ferment the feed with dechlorinated water in a bucket or other type vessel for 3 or 4 days until it bubbles (like sourdough), then strain the liquid and serve. You must keep the feed/grains submerged underwater, or it can mold. One can save the liquid to start another batch. 

Chicken Layer Feed

Still with Us?

 As you can see, fermenting chicken feed is a lot of work. Rita has 10 chickens and 22 turkeys, which is why she always keeps 3 buckets going. Kim has over 50 hens and says she doesnt have time to do it. 

Any Other Drawbacks?

Aside from taking a lot of time, if your fermented feed or mash” is fresh, there arent any drawbacks to feeding it to your chickens. Make sure it doesnt look moldy or smell sour.”

Some chicken parents we spoke with only fed it to their chickens in winter or during times of stress/molting. However, there's no reason you can't provide it year-round.

Why Ferment Feed?

Despite the amount of time it takes, feeding your flock fermented feed vs. dry (say that 4 times fast!) has many benefits. 

  • Improved nutrition and digestion: Fermentation dramatically increases the available nutrients in the grains, enhances digestibility, and provides natural probiotic (healthy) organisms. 
  • Superior immunity and overall health: Many studies have shown taking probiotics boosts the immune system. Therefore, by feeding fermented feed, your birds should have increased resistance to infection and disease. 
  • Saves money: Chickens eat approximately 50% less when consuming fermented feed while getting ample nutrition and plenty to eat. Fermented feed is denser and richer in nutrients than dry feed. As a result, it becomes more filling. 
  • Variety: Most of us don't want to eat the same thing day after day. Your chickens will appreciate you providing delicious and nutritious meals in a different format.
  • Better eggs: The extra nutrition and probiotics in fermented feed should increase egg weight. The eggshells should also weigh more and be thicker.
  • Less waste: Fermented feed has the consistency of a ‘mash.’ When you serve it, there’s less spillage. Additionally, your hens will have less of a tendency to scratch through it and throw it out of the feeder.
  • Less mess: If your chickens are eating less, there’s less 💩 to clean. 

Alternatives

Seriously, youre not a bad chicken parent if you dont ferment feed for your gals. Small Pet Select has an easier way for your hens to get healthy bacteria using the best supplements available from Fresh Eggs Daily. 

Poultry Probiotics, Brewers Yeast, and Coop Kelp all support different issues. Additionally, including these all-natural daily supplements in your poultry feed provides essential nutrients needed from hatch to laying age and beyond.

We hope this answered our valued customers’ questions regarding the benefits of fermented chicken feed and how to ferment chicken feed. If you have any other recipes or tricks to share with us, please comment on our socials or email them to hoomans@smallpetselect.com.

By the way, if there are blog topics you want us to cover, send an email to hoomans@smallpetselect.com or a message on Facebook or Instagram. We want to know what you’re interested in reading.


Interested in learning more about chickens?

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