Let’s talk about feed…
I just want to shout from the rooftops how amazing fermented feed is for chickens. I recently tried it out and to quote Rapunzel, “I am never going back!!!”
I had heard of fermented feed before now. I didn’t realize what all the fuss was about. That is, until I took the leap and clicked the link on Pinterest.
Fermented feed saves money? Provides more nutrients for chickens in a smaller amount of feed? Can actually make a chicken lay more eggs just by feeding it to her?
Something so revolutionary couldn’t be so simple. There had to be some sort of catch, a secret ingredient? a missing step?
As I looked into trying to ferment My own chicken feed I found out it’s not hard at all! In fact, I think it’s pretty hard to mess up.(If I couldn’t mess it up, I don’t think anyone could. XD)
I’ll talk a little bit about the benefits of fermented feed and then get right into how to do it, I’m sure you’re just dying to find out.
First of all, I noticed when I tried it for the first time that the feed expands to at least twice its size. Whaaaaaat?! it’s true! And in addition to just expanding, the fermentation process actually releases a whole bunch of good nutrients, probiotics, and increases the protein content, so your chickens will eat less feed overall and be healthier! If you think it couldn’t get any better, think again…
Fermented feed makes chickens lay eggs. Now this might not hold true for everyone but from my experience and from what I’ve read, the increase in nutrients actually makes eggs bigger, shells stronger, and if you have a hen who has stopped laying for whatever reason (molting being an exception) start feeding her fermented feed and you will more than likely have an egg from her within 3-4 days!
My girls slowed down a lot during the winter, but this year I tried fermented feed for the first time and I was getting 5-6 eggs a day, a big jump from the 5-6 a week throughout the month of December. I also have a polish hen who is getting close to a year old and she hadn’t laid an egg yet. I started feeding fermented feed and bam, within 4 days I found her first little white egg sitting in the nestbox.
Here’s how to do it…
- Take a medium to large size bowl and fill with half the amount of dry feed that you usually give your hens.(It’s good for roosters too, but I don’t have a rooster so I’m just gonna use the word hen) Remember that the feed will expand 2-3 times in volume, so make sure that the bowl is big enough to account for that. You can also use mason jars or 5 gallon buckets, depending on how big your flock is. I have 14 hens so a large bowl works great.
- Fill with water until the water level is 1-2 inches above the feed. I’ve heard mixed things about what kind of water to use, some say non chlorinated, some say any water is fine. I have tried both and have gotten the same results each time. If you get your water from the tap, fill a pitcher and let it sit for 12 hours, that will decrease the chlorine levels.
- Let it sit for 3 days in a warm room. (somewhere that is normally 70 degrees or so) That’s all!
Right! Okay, now that you know how to ferment your feed, here are some things to keep in mind or things that you might be curious about.
- Any feed will work! crumble, pellet, homemade mixtures, all of it.
- Make sure to keep the water level above the feed to avoid mold growing on top.
- You can stir it occasionally if you like. I have done batches when I completely forgot to stir and it didn’t affect the outcome.
- Your chickens might not like it at first, and that’s okay. Start with a small batch, and introduce slowly if they are reluctant to try it.
- Serve at room temperature.
- When you feed it to your chickens it should be an oatmeal-like consistency. Not soupy. If there is extra water on the top, dump it out beforehand, and if you want to, save the excess water to start the next batch with. It will speed up the fermenting process but is not necessary.
- Don’t let the mixture sit for more than 4 days.
- Bubbles are good! It means the natural yeast in the feed is at work.
- You might notice a sour, fermenty smell after a day or two. This is normal.
- If you want to you can mix in some apple cider vinegar once or twice a week right before feeding for an extra boost of vitamins.
- Wash the container before starting another batch.
- It can be fed to them every day! I like to have a couple batches going at a time, here is an example…
Day 1: Start bowl A.
Day 2: Start bowl B
Day 3: Feed bowl A to hens, start bowl C.
Day 4: Feed bowl B to hens, start bowl A
Day 5 :Feed bowl C to hens, start bowl B
And so on.
Let me know if you try it out by leaving a comment below or leaving a post on my Facebook page.
I’ll take pictures of the process soon, and add them to this post.
Thanks for reading!
Blow up your TV, move to the country, homestead your life.