Fermenting Chicken Feed – All You Need to Know
The idea of fermenting chicken feed seems amusing. After all, why ferment chicken feed when you aren’t preparing foods such as pickles, kimchi, and yogurt, which require fermenting?
However, fermenting chicken feed provides your flock with numerous health benefits. For instance, fermented chicken feed can help your hens grow healthy and lay heavier eggs.
Most importantly, the chicken feed fermentation process can make the feed more nutritious by introducing beneficial vitamins and minerals.
5 Benefits of Fermented Chicken Feed
Some people have heard about fermenting chicken feed at some point. Most don’t see the essence of fermenting feed for their birds. It’s like they believe that fermenting feed can harm their chooks.
On the contrary, fermenting chicken feed can have dozens of nutritional and health benefits.
These are the five top benefits of fermented chicken feed:
The fermented chicken feed contains healthy bacteria. Feeding fermented feed to your flock will help introduce healthy bacteria to their guts.
Fermented chicken feed also reduces pathogens in chickens’ digestive systems, making them less susceptible to diseases when chickens have unhealthy guts. Fermented feed is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that play an imperative role in maintaining healthy guts in chickens.
The healthy bacteria in chicken feed can make your birds less vulnerable to bacteria conditions, including Salmonella.
Studies reveal that chickens with a consistent intake of probiotics due to consuming fermented foods have a robust immune system, unlike those that consume the standard dry feed.
Vitamins and Minerals
The fermentation process generates crucial minerals and vitamins. Fermenting chicken feed can make essential minerals and vitamins available to chickens.
Fermented chicken feed, for instance, has plenty of B vitamins, including folic acid. The fermentation process also increases vitamin and mineral absorption in a chicken’s digestive system.
Digesting chicken feed makes the feed easily digestible and absorbable, especially for young chickens that can’t digest tough feed.
The natural probiotics in fermented chicken feed promote better gut health and make it easier for chickens to digest the feed.
Chickens that consume fermented feed lay heavier eggs. Such chickens also produce eggs with thicker shells. The ingredients in dry chicken feed, including seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts, contain high levels of phytic acid, which acts like a nutrient blocker.
The fermentation process makes these grains sprout, releasing the phytic acid. Your hens will absorb nutrients and minerals better without phytic acid in their systems.
The high the quality of feed your bird will consume, the larger and better-quality eggs they will produce. Fermentation can improve feed quality, ultimately improving egg production in chickens.
Chickens can absorb fermented chicken feed better than unfermented or dry feed. Your chickens will consume less fermented feed, but the birds will consume large amounts of dry feed.
Feed is a chicken keeper’s most considerable expense, so you will save on chicken feed because your chooks will eat less when they consume the fermented feed.
The probiotics and beneficial bacteria in fermented chicken will kill the internal parasites that make chickens feed more.
Types of Chicken Feeds You Can Ferment
Not all types of chicken feeds are ideal for fermentation, so it’s good to know the kinds of chicken feed you can ferment. For instance, you can ferment pellets, crumbles, and whole-grain chicken feed.
You can also ferment chicken starter feed to make it mushy and soft for your baby chicks. Some people even ferment scratch as a healthy treat for their chooks.
However, the fermented scratch shouldn’t replace layer feed because it doesn’t contain many ingredients, unlike fermented layer feed.
How to Ferment Chicken Feed?
It is one thing to comprehend the health benefits of chickens eating fermented feed. You can also understand some of the chicken feeds that are ideal for fermentation.
However, some people need to learn how to ferment chicken feed. Even the few chicken raisers who ferment chicken feed need to conduct this process correctly.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to ferment chicken feed to help you ferment chicken feed for your birds.
Decide on The Type of Chicken to Ferment
Because you can ferment different types of chicken feed, deciding the kind of feed to ferment before starting the fermentation process is good.
For instance, if you have baby chicks, you can prepare to ferment starter feed for the little birds. Or, you can ferment a high-quality layer feed if you want to ferment quality feed for your layers to enhance egg production.
Also, you should decide on the type of food to ferment based on the ingredients in the chicken feed. Some ingredients aren’t suitable for fermentation. For instance, you should avoid fermenting foods with high amounts of protein.
Mix the Chicken Feed with Water
Get a container to ferment the chicken feed. For instance, pick a large bowl, glass jar, or bucket. However, the container you choose for fermentation should accommodate the amount of chicken feed you want to ferment.
Since the fermentation process makes chicken feed somewhat acidic, it’s good to pick a glass container for fermenting your feed. You can also use a BPA-free plastic container or a ceramic container.
Besides the container being large enough to accommodate chicken feed, it should also have room to hold water. Plus, the container should have extra space for stirring chicken feed.
First, put the chicken feed into a container, preferably one or two servings for your flock.
For instance, you can ferment around two cups of chicken feed, enough for your flock to consume in two days.
Add filtered or dechlorinated water over the feed. Add enough water until you cover the feed entirely.
Avoid using chlorinated water because it can suppress the fermentation process. Stir the mixture thoroughly until the water mixes with the chicken feed.
Let it Ferment
Cover the container with a lid, a makeshift lid, or a plate. The lid doesn’t have to be airtight because the aim of covering is to stop mold growth in the container.
Covering the container with a loose lid is essential because it will help gases that occur due to fermentation to escape. Leave the container in a place with moderate temperatures for between three and four days.
For instance, you can leave the container on your counter because your counter has room temperatures that will speed up the fermentation process. Please keep checking the container and stirring it every day.
Add more water if the feed looks dry. You will see bubbles on the top of the container after two to three days. That signifies that fermentation is taking place.
The fermenting feed should produce a sour, sweet smell similar to that of yeast or yogurt. A chicken feed with fishmeal may smell fishy during the fermentation process.
Drain the Water
After three to four days, you must drain the water from the fermenting feed.
However, you shouldn’t empty the water from the fermenting feed if they are still bubbles on the surface, which means the fermentation is still ongoing.
You can either drain the water from the feed, discard it, or reserve it to make a new batch of fermented feed.
Feed the Fermented Feed to the Chickens
Finally, you have some healthy fermented feed for your chickens. You can separate the feed into batches. For instance, if you have three batches of fermented chicken feed, you can feed a batch daily to your flock.
However, avoid making large batches of fermented feed because fermented food spoils quickly, unlike dry feed.
So, it would help if you prepared enough fermented feed for your chickens. The feed shouldn’t last for days since it might spoil.
Things to Avoid When Fermenting Chicken Feed
Fermenting chicken feed is easy and less time-consuming. However, some mistakes chicken owners can make when fermenting chicken feed can cost them a nutritious and healthy meal for their chooks.
These are the things you should avoid when fermenting chicken feed:
- Using a smaller container-Fermenting chicken feed in a smaller container can be disastrous since you won’t have ample space to add enough water to speed up the fermentation process. Ensure the container you utilize during the process is proportional to the chicken feed you ferment.
- Not covering the container-The chicken feed fermentation process won’t run smoothly if you don’t cover the container. The feed will dry out instead of fermenting. Besides covering the container when fermenting chicken feed, some people also place the container under the wrong temperatures. For instance, the chicken feed won’t ferment if you put the container under high temperatures. Always keep the container at room temperature when fermenting chicken feed.
- Failing to stir the contents– You must stir the contents in the container to speed up the process. Stirring the contents will help mix the ingredients in the feed thoroughly, which means you will end up with a quality fermented feed after the fermentation process. However, refrain from stirring the contents several times daily because the fermentation gases will escape when you open the container to mix the contents. Ideally, it would help if you stirred once a day and close the container to avoid exposing the fermenting feed to light and extreme temperatures.
- Failing to add water regularly– As the fermentation process continues, the water level in the container might go down, ultimately exposing the feed. That’s why you should keep adding water until it covers the feed. Insufficient water can inhibit the fermenting process. Moreover, it can make the feed dry out or spoil even before the fermentation process.
- Not waiting to see bubbles-One sign the chicken feed fermentation process is ongoing is the presence of bubbles on the surface. If there are no bubbles, then no fermentation is taking place, and your feed could be going bad rather than fermenting. So it would help if you waited to see the bubbles before draining the water and feeding the birds with the fermented feed.
- Dechlorinated water– The biggest mistake people make when fermenting chicken feed is dechlorinated water, which can suppress the fermentation process. Always use filtered water when fermenting chicken feed for your chooks.
Making fermented feed for your chooks is an inexpensive and easy process.
Fermented chicken feed can result in healthier chickens, lower feed costs, and help your hens produce better eggs, which is the dream of every chicken raiser.
Avoid the simple mistakes that can make the entire process of fermenting chicken feed go wrong.