Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fermented Feed for Chickens

If you aren't fermenting feed for your chickens, it's time to get started. 

Fermenting their feed boosts the nuitrition and will result in:
1.  Healthier chickens
2.  Lower feed costs for you.

Did you catch that?  Healthier chickens AND lower feed costs!  Most people report that they save about 1/3 of the feed cost.

Sounds like a win/win to me!  To read all the details about it, go to Leigh's site at http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspot.com/p/fermented-feed.html  and plan on being there for a while.  She has tons of information with practical, natural ways for flock management.  Make sure you read her posts on Gnarly Bunch on the Healing Story tab.  The chapters are short and to the point (with pictures) that show amazing progress with a mistreated flock of chickens.  There's the proof that her methods are the best!

Back to fermented feeds.  You're going to have to decided which way works for you.  Right now the easiest thing for me is using some Folger's plastic coffee cans (cannisters?), a couple pieces of thin material and a couple big rubber bands.

I filled two cans about 1/3 to 1/2 full of scratch grains.  I then added water to cover the grains plus about an inch. I gave both cans a quick stir, covered the opening with the cloth and secured with the rubber band.  I put the cans in a warm, out of the way spot. Update: The first year, I occasionally added a blurp of apple cider vinegar. Do NOT add anything, just water. And put the lid on your container.

The next day, I poured the liquid from one can into another one that had dry grains.  I just slowly poured through the material covering the top of the can.  I added a bit more water to the new grains, gave it a swirl, covered with the now wet on one side cloth and set it aside. I was surprised at how much the grains swelled up. Fed wet grains to chickens and ducks.  Only half of them ate at first, but the next time I went outside, all of it was cleaned up.

The day after that, I used the now two day old can of grains, drained the liquid into another can of dry grains, etc etc.  This time all the feathered critters just chowed down. 

By letting the cans sit for two days, there's more time for fermenting. 
My chickens are still free ranging and there is still green things/weed seeds, etc that they can eat.  As the cold weather progresses, I'll come up with a bigger bucket system.  I also want to try sprouting grains for the birds, but that's another page.

photo credit: Wikipedia