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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 will not only make the feed easier for them to digest and improve digestive health, it will increase the vitamins and nutrients in the feed.

The increased protein levels in fermented feed can also aid in egg production.

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. Not only that, chickens love fermented feed!

So it's a win-win.

The basics of fermenting are easy: fill a stoneware or glass container about 1/3 full of cracked or whole grains and seeds, then cover with water. Stir once or twice a day, adding more water if needed to keep the grains completely submerged. 

After 3-4 days - you should see some bubbles and foam on the surface! - drain off any excess liquid 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.

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

2. 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.

3. Use a glass, BPA-free plastic or food-grade stoneware or ceramic container. 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.

4.  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. 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.

6. Stir the grains well once or twice a day with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula.

7. Keep your container out of direct sunlight and away from direct heat. 

8. Smell your mixture. 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.

9. Reserve a bit of the liquid after you’ve strained out your grains to start a new batch.

10. 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.

For more on fermenting your own chicken feed.

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 and more.

This article was partially excerpted from my book and photos are courtesy of Peg Keyser/CoopduJour Photography.

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