By: Kaare Melby
Fermenting chicken feed is a wonderful way to get the most out of your chicken feed, and keep your chickens healthy. Fermenting grain for chickens makes the feed more digestible, adds important nutrients, gives your chickens (free!) probiotics, and increases the available nutrients in your feed by neutralizing phytic acids. Since this helps your chickens get more out of the feed, they also need less feed each day.
I came into fermenting feed after learning a lot about fermenting human food, and its benefits. I wrote an article about fermenting vegetables a while ago that was published in the Organic Consumers Association‘s newsletter. You can read that article here.
Since I am comfortable with fermenting and know that it is the oldest and safest form of food preservation known, I think that I had an easier time with the concept of fermenting chicken feed than someone who has no fermenting experience. But fermenting chicken feed is easy, and no one should be scared to start.
My process is very simple. But it does take 4 days from when you decide to start to when you will be able to start feeding your chickens fermented feed. After that initial 3 day period you will always have fermented feed.
Here’s how to get started:
(day 1) Simply put the amount of feed you usually feed your chickens in the bottom of a bucket. Add enough water to make it a soup like consistency (you will get the hang of the amount of water you will need, you want to be able to pour it out when it’s done). Then you put a towel over it to keep bugs and dust out of the feed. Be sure you put the bucket in a warm area, 50 degrees or warmer. That’s it!
(day 2) Do the same thing with another bucket, place it next to the first bucket (remember which one is older!).
(day 3) Fill a 3rd bucket, place it next to the bucket you made the day before. Now you should have 3 buckets arranged from oldest to newest.
(day 4) Take the oldest bucket and feed its content to your chickens. Fill it again, and place it next to the other buckets, but now in the position of the newest bucket.
Then, simply repeat this processes every day, and you will always have fermented feed!
As you go, you will start adjusting to find the amount your chickens need. You will most likely be able to significantly reduce the amount of dry feed you use each day, we were able to reduce our daily feed usage by over 50%! As you learn about the needs of your chickens, you can start adding supplemental feed, such as sunflowers seeds (to boost protein and natural methionine), chia seeds (to boost omega 3 fatty acids), and more!