Why We Ferment Our Chicken Feed

fermenting chicken feed

“What?! You ferment your chicken feed?!”

 

Yessirree!  I most certainly do!  Not crazy, I tell you…

 

Let’s go back to how I got to this point…

 

A number of months ago, I was looking at mixing my own chicken feed.  I was tired of feeding my girls plain ol’ layer pellets, void of antioxidants and healthy bacteria.  I took the next step and priced out what it would cost me to do that – Shall I say, it  wasn’t in our budget…

I needed another option.

 

Then I found this inspiring post from Blue Yurt Farms – over on their homestead, they FERMENT their feed.  What?!  I had never even considered that!  How genius!  Here’s the original post – CLICK HERE.

 

So, now WHY would you want to ferment your chicken feed?

  1. Improved hen health: healthy bacteria is introduced into your chicken’s system.  Good gut bacteria that aids in digestion and increased vitamin/mineral/antioxidant absorption
  2. It has been shown to increase your egg shell quality (weight and thickness)
  3. Lower feed costs:  since the food is better absorbed, the chickens aren’t eating as much as their were before.
  4. Less waste (which ties in with lower feed costs):  the hanging feeder I used before was VERY wasteful, as the chickens had a tendency to fling everything everywhere, resulting in a heap of feed under the feeder, on the floor of the coop.  Ridiculous, I tell you!  By using the fermented feed, I scoop it into a large pan, and they eat directly from there!  No waste – and only minor flinging (only due to excitement, of course).  🙂

 

How do I ferment my chicken feed, anyway?

Using two 5-gallon buckets, drill drainage holes in one of the buckets.  This will be your interior bucket.  Place the bucket with the drilled holes inside the intact bucket.

 

The basics that I placed in the bucket to start were as follows:  (hop over the advertisement)

  • basic layer feed (about 3/4 full)
  • a few good glugs of raw apple cider vinegar (I use this kind) – a great alternative to the ACV would be whey.
  • water
  • Optional add-ins:  you can really just go to town on what you want to add-in to your fermented feed.  I toss in veggie scraps, clabbered milk or yogurt when I have extra, dry lentils (protein), black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and dried oregano (antibacterial properties).

 

When you first start, the dry feed will suck that water right up – Over the first few hours, I kept checking on it and adding more water, adding enough so it would just pool on the top.    From here, it needs to sit for a day or so to start the fermentation process.  I started to feed mine to the chickens after two days.    I keep the buckets stored on our back porch, covered with a pillowcase and a bungee-cord to keep the dogs out.  🙂  Just a note of caution:  MOLD = BAD.  If mold develops on your feed, throw it out!!

 

chicken feed

 

Feeding your feed to your chickens

We have around twenty chickens.  I scoop about about 4 cups or so of fermented feed into a large plastic feed pan and give it to them twice daily.   At first, it was hard for me to determine how much to give them.  By feeding them twice daily, I am able to assess how much they went through in the morning, and then adjust it for the evening feeding.

I was also curious if they would even like it – But lo and behold, they LOVED it!

 

What do you think?  Would you ferment your chicken feed?  What things would you add to it?

 

Want to hear more about our chickens on the Faulk Farmstead?   Here’s our chicken basics and our experiences with butchering our first chicken!

 

This post can also be seen at Heritage Homesteaders!

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9 thoughts on “Why We Ferment Our Chicken Feed

  1. I love this post. Thank you. We just started fermenting our feed and wondered if we should be reusing the soaking water, or feeding it to the chooks. Could you clarify this point please?

    1. That’s a great question – I never thought to re-use it or give it to them, but I think I will give it a try now. I’m sure they would love it!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! My family and I are struggling financially as I have recently learned my brain surgery for a rare nerve disorder, which was done almost a year ago, was done incorrectly. Unfortunately I must wait to file for any sort of medical malpractice, as doing so essential flags me as a “difficult patient” as other neurosurgeons could and would then refuse to take on my next brain surgery. As such my disabled Army veteran husband and I continue to try to keep our small chicken farm running between too much pain and exhaustion. We both work freelance jobs, but these come nowhere close to paying the bills. Despite my embarrassment we are also running a fundraiser to try to get enough money to get my husband and I to Pittsburgh, from Arizona, where there is a team of neurosurgeons who study and perform successful surgeries for the rare group of people I find myself part of, with a neuralgia that feels like I’m being stabbed in the ear, every minute for the past three years. In reality, it would make more sense to give up, sell all the chickens and count our losses. We don’t spend nearly enough time with them, and rarely have the energy to collect eggs, which means we don’t make anything from them. And yet, we are attached. My eldest daughter is attached- not to all- we’ve tried to be clear that some are bound for the dinner table, but we also know our beloved rooster and some of our granny hens will stay with us until their days come to a natural end. I apologize with dumping my worries in the lap of your blog. What wanted to say is that I am so grateful for this post! Over half our chicken feed now goes to the little chickadees that know our 1/2 acre is where they and all their extended relations can get three full meals a day. I want to ferment our chicken feed so that it goes to our chickens, not the entire bird community in our little rural town. Also, as I learn to ferment food for my family and learn the benefits of it, I am delighted that I can offer the same benefits to our chickens! So, if you’ve read through my story of struggle and pain, thank you, and especially thank you for giving me a tool that will lower our fed bill and allow us to keep our chickens for as long as possible!

    1. Rueann,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! I am deeply saddened by the struggles that you and your family are dealing with. It sounds like your chickens are a special comfort to you! I hope that the fermented feed can help you – it sure has cut down on our costs! 🙂

      1. Mel,
        Thank you for writing. I am so inspired by your amazing farmstead, and I look forward to reading your blog posts each day. I always learn something new and marvel at you and your family’s dedication and love for running your amazing farm. I hope one day, once I am somewhat well, to be able to grow our little homestead- at least to add a couple milking goats! Thank you for being a constant source of information, inspiration and joy! Have a wonderful day! Thank you for your kind words.
        Tracy

  3. Do you throw out what you dont use every day? And adjust your measurements for less waste or just keep the feed in the water til ready to eat the next day?

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