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10 Tips for Better Fermented Feed for your Chickens

Here are ten tips for better fermented feed for your chickens.

Fermenting feed for your chickens isn't difficult and doesn't require any special equipment or ingredients.

But fermenting will not only make the feed easier for them to digest and improve their digestive health with the creation of natural probiotics, it will increase the available vitamins and nutrients in the feed.

That means that they'll need to eat less in order to get all the nutrition they need. That will save you money on your feed bill each month. 

The increased protein levels in fermented feed can also aid in egg production, and fermented feed also helps to boost the immune system.

Not only that, chickens love fermented feed!

So it's a win-win no matter which way you look at it.

10 Tips for Better Fermented Feed for your Chickens

The basics of fermenting feed for your chickens is easy |

Fill a stoneware or glass container about 1/3 full of cracked or whole grains and seeds, scratch grains, etc.  then cover with water. Stir once or twice a day, adding more water if needed to keep the grains completely submerged. 

After 3 to 4 days you should see some bubbles and foam on the surface.  Drain off any excess liquid (be sure to keep it to start your next batch!) and feed the solids to your chickens. That's it.

Although fermentation isn't difficult, using these simple tips can increase your chances of success.

10 Tips for Better Fermented Feed for your Chickens

1. Use Whole or Cracked Grains and Seeds, Not Pellets or Crumble

Use a mix of grains, oats, nuts, seeds and legumes. You can make your own poultry feed mix or use a commercially available brand of feed or scratch grains. 

Note: Crumble and pellets won't ferment correctly, they'll just get mushy, but you can still add water to them and feed them. Your chickens will love them!

Here are some suggestions of what you can add to your jar to begin fermenting:

  • amaranth
  • barley
  • buckwheat
  • corn, cracked or whole
  • flax seed
  • millet
  • oats, steel cut or rolled
  • quinoa
  • rye
  • sorghum
  • dried split green peas
  • sunflower seeds
  • whole wheat

2. Make Enough for Just One Day

Measure out just one day's ration of feed at a time to ferment (about 1/2 cup per bird)

After you've made a few batches, you'll likely be able to reduce the amount, since your chickens will eat only as much as they need to get the daily nutrients and energy they require.

3.  Use a Glass or Ceramic Container, Not Metal

Use a glass, BPA-free plastic or food-grade stoneware or ceramic container to ferment your feed. Metals like cast iron, copper, aluminum or low-end stainless steel can leach into your ferment. 

Leave the top open or loosely cover it with cheesecloth. Don't put a lid on the container.

4.  Use only De-Chlorinated Water

Use de-chlorinated water. Chlorine and flouride can inhibit the activity of the probiotic cultures, so you'll want to use either well water or bottled distilled water.  

To use tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours, or boil it for 20 minutes then allow it to cool to room temperature.

5. Be Sure the Grains are Completely Covered

Cover your grains with several inches of water and add more water as needed so they remain submerged and completely covered. Don't allow the water level to fall below the level of the grains or they can start to grow bacteria and go bad.

6. Stir the Mixture

Stir the grains well, once or twice a day, with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to keep the lactic acid forming.

7. Keep the Feed out of Direct Sunlight

Keep your fermenting container out of direct sunlight and away from direct heat.  It should be stored in a cool, dry spot.

8. Smell your Mixture

Smell your mixture as the fermentation process goes on. It should smell sort of tangy-sweet or mildly yeasty, like sourdough bread. 

It shouldn't smell sour, moldy or rancid. If it does, throw it out and start over. Don't take chances.

9. Reserve the Drained Liquid

Be sure to reserve the liquid after you’ve strained out your grains to start a new batch. This will help your next batch to ferment a bit faster.

10. Fermented Feed is Great for Both Babies and Adults

You can feed the fermented feed to chickens and ducks, as well as chicks and ducklings. Just be sure they have grit available to help them digest the grains.

If you are interested in trying to ferment some feed, read this for more about the benefits of fermented feed, then use this guide to start your first batch.

Or pick up a copy of my book 101 Chicken Keeping Hacks available in feed stores and bookstores nationwide for more tips to help you save time and money by fermenting, sprouting, growing fodder and more.

This article was partially excerpted from my book.

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