Providing high-quality nutrition for your chickens is the best way to ensure their well-being, as well as the freshest organic eggs.
A sure way to ensure both is to use fermented chicken feed that you can make yourself. Your chickens will love it, provided you give it enough time to soak.
In this article, I’ll outline everything you need to know about fermented chicken feed. This includes how to make it, how long it lasts, and what makes fermented feed such an excellent option for your birds.
What is Fermented Feed for Chickens?
In layman’s terms, fermented feed for chickens is regular dry chicken food that has gone through fermentation. You can buy fermented feed made by others, or you can ferment your own.
The process of lacto-fermentation is what leads to fermenting foods. People have been fermenting their food like this since the dawn of time.
When you ferment your chicken feed, you’re essentially giving them probiotics that have multiple benefits for their health, and ultimately yours.
Is Fermented Feed Good for Chickens?
If you’re wondering why you should make fermented chicken feed, here are some of the significant benefits to think about.
The grains you usually feed to your chickens vary in quality. Regardless of which type you purchase, the fermentation will dramatically boost the number of valuable nutrients in the grains.
Furthermore, you can expect enhanced digestibility via natural probiotics gained by the fermentation process. This forms a natural barrier against Salmonella and E. coli that are often associated with poultry.
Probiotics are linked to better gut health and better overall immunity. If you choose to give fermented feed to your chickens, you can expect a reasonable amount of increased resistance to disease and infections.
Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons why so many poultry farmers have shifted towards fermented chicken feed is that the quality of the eggs improves. If you feed your chickens with fermented feed regularly, you should expect the eggs to weigh more and the eggshell to be thicker.
Less Mess and Waste
Compared to dry feed, there’s much less mess involved with fermented grains. When you serve fermented feeds, there’s no excessive spillage, and the hens are less likely to scratch food out of the feeder.
Additionally, fermented chicken feeds are more filling, and your chickens will be satiated quicker. As a result, you’ll have fewer droppings to clean up.
Are There Any Downsides to Fermented Chicken Feed?
There are no downsides to feeding chickens fermented feed in terms of health benefits for chickens and humans.
The only issue is that this can be a time-consuming process and something you have to do regularly to benefit from, especially for small farms and households with chicken coops.
How Do You Ferment Chicken Feed?
The first step to successfully fermenting your chicken feed is to find a suitable container. Glass mason jars are an excellent option, but stainless steel buckets work well too.
Whatever you choose, don’t go with a plastic container. Plastic containers can encourage bacterial growth, which could harm your chickens and also affect the smell of the chicken feed.
Mix Feed and Water
Make sure to put enough feed into your container, at least two or three daily servings for your hens. You can use any feed of your choice, grains pellets, or crumble. Whole grain feed tends to hold up really well, while others often get a bit too mushy.
Once the feed is in the container, pour filtered or dechlorinated water over the feed to submerge it entirely. The feed needs some room to expand later, so make sure to account for that. Try and avoid chlorinated water because it often inhibits the process of fermentation.
Let the Feed Ferment
The container with feed and water should be covered with a loose-fitting lid or even a cotton cloth. It doesn’t need to be air-tight, so that’s not something that should worry you. Fermentation is a natural process, so you don’t have to do much to promote it.
However, stirring the batch every day will help the feed better absorb the liquid. After two or three days, you’ll notice tiny bubbles in your chicken feed mixture. The tangy and somewhat sweet smell will also be evident.
The consistency of the liquid will be a bit cloudy too. However, if you notice a terrible smell that resembles mold or something even more putrid, don’t feed it to your chickens.
Drain the Mixture
After three days, if there’s still water in the container, make sure to drain it before feeding your chickens. A great tip is to keep the excess water to help start another batch of fermented chicken feed.
The lactic bacteria’s remains will successfully feed on the fresh grains and even expedite your next batch’s fermentation process. The final step – give your hungry chickens the high-quality fermented feed you’ve made from scratch.
How Long Does Fermented Chicken Feed Last?
There isn’t one definitive answer to this question, and it will depend on several factors. For one, your climate will impact the longevity of the fermented feed. If it’s hot outside, you might need to use your batch in 48 hours or less.
When the weather is cold, fermented feed can sometimes maintain its freshness and quality for up to five days. As a rule, it’s best to distribute the feed as quickly as possible, so your chickens can enjoy the most benefits from the batch.
If you start feeding your chickens with fermented feed, you’ll have a hard time going back. They will absolutely love it, their digestion will improve, and you will benefit from larger and tastier eggs.
The time investment could be problematic, but it doesn’t have to be if you work the fermentation process into your daily routine.
If you make fermented chicken feed, make sure to use it as quickly as possible and not let it go to waste. Also, whole grains are the best option by far.