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growing worms on spent brewery grains  RSS feed

 
Luke Eising
Posts: 31
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So, I currently get and feed a lot of spent brewery grains.
But I'm interested in turning it into protein.

So what critter is the best one if your interested in the meat, not the compost?

And how would I set that up? I suspect pre-composting may be necessary. I'm thinking trenches.
 
Sean Banks
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Black Solider Fly would be best for your situation......Setup varies among users maybe someone else can speak more on this.
 
Stephen B. Anthony
Posts: 3
Location: PA
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You want to use spent grains as critter feed? Is that correct? For turning spent grains into protein for human consumption, there's no need for any precomposting or black soldier flies. First off, you and your animals can eat it straight away. I don't have animals and it tastes bland (also has sharp chaff bits that make it unpleasant unless ground) so I usually just throw my spent grains in the back yard and it's gone in a couple days from the birds flocking over it and squirrels grabbing it up. I was watching a squirrel dig up my recent homebrew grains from the snow just this morning. I can't say from experience but I have heard, and would bet, that chickens, pigs, and cows would be very happy for it. I hope I understood you right, but if not, the worms, flies, and fungus would definitely munch on it too!

In case you're not familiar with brewing, here's a quick overview. Alcohol is made from sugars, so the brewing process starts by converting starchy grains into sugary grains. For beer it's mostly barley, with additions of wheat, rye, and oats, and possible adjuncts of rice and corn. First the grain is malted, which basically means it's moistened, sprouted, and then dried. It can then be safely stored for long periods until ready for brewing. I know I've read that sprouts are supposed to be more nutritious than raw seed, so I like to think that about malted barley too Anyway, after that the malted grains are crushed and then steeped in hot water. The specific water temperature activates digestive enzymes in the malted grain that convert starch into sugar. When all the water is drained off, it takes most of the sugar with it and that is what goes on to become beer. What's left are your spent grains: fiber, proteins, various minerals, starches that didn't convert, and sugars that didn't drain off.

Now, in the off-chance that your spent brewery grains have been mixed with other brewery waste, I can't really comment but would caution against consumption. Here's more brew process for ya. After the sugar water is run off, it's boiled with hops, which act as a natural preservative. Then it's cooled and yeast (fungus) is added. The yeast replicate rapidly in the initially aerobic solution, then they start anaerobic respiration (fermentation) of alcohol and co2, which turns the sugary liquid into beer. The waste from THIS part of the process is a small amount of grain particulate that settled out of solution, maybe a few bits of hop, and a whole bunch of dead/dormant yeast cells, as well as trace alcohol, hundreds of various yeasty byproducts, and after exposure to air there's definitely a bit of wild microorganism activity, like lactobacillus or acetobactor. I occasionally dump that waste on my compost, but I don't like to make a habit of it and I definitely don't eat it for several reasons. 1. It's in a highly anaerobic state that would require significant energy on my part to prevent clogging up my nice aerobic compost I work so hard for. 2. It tastes terrible to humans so I have a hard time imagining animals or even worms would feel that differently 3. Yeast is unhealthy as a dominant feature of my gut flora, so it's inadvisable to inundate myself that way. Instead, most of that goes down the drain or spread thin beneath a hedgerow.

I hope that helps.
 
S Haze
Posts: 229
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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More info on this topic would be a great asset to the permies community!

There's a brewery starting up in my town (pop. 3300) this spring and it's going to be challenging for them to become established and viable. Having a good plan for the "waste" stream by adding value to it through worms or anything else could help them out. If I'm not involved personally in this part of the process I will still contribute by drinking my "fair share" of the primary product!
 
Stephen B. Anthony
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Location: PA
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Apparently spent grains are made into dog biscuits. The advantage there is that dogs don't mind the sharp bits of chaff and general blandness of spent grain (humans typically dry and pulverise spent grains before cooking for themselves, which is not worth the time or energy IMHO). On a related note, dogs are deadly allergic to hops.

In reviewing reported garden uses for leftover yeast on homebrew forums, it's pretty mixed. Some claim that it's high in nitrogen and that they've noticed positive and/or negligible effects from application to compost or even directly into the garden. One claimed that professional brewers even sell the stuff to farmers for compost. Others caution that worms and insects scurry away from the stuff or even die after exposure; some postulated this could due to acidity or hop resins. Another concern was that the yeast would eat up the oxygen and cause problems, the biological equivalent to my mechanical reasons for not adding it to compost. The main presumed benefit, besides simply that it's food-quality liquid organic matter, is that yeast break down complex compounds into smaller nutrients for other microorganisms. Though, that should be obvious to anyone who knows about fungus, and most people are happy to use the natural fungi already hanging around or add varieties designed for specific uses.

That's all I got! I would love to here a microbiologist/biochemist opinion on the matter, though I think it's truly to each his own on this one.
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Luke Eising wrote:So what critter is the best one if your interested in the meat, not the compost?

I'm a bit confused by your question Luke; do you mean growing worms in order to feed something people find tasty?
I've tried worms, and they taste just like...worms. I don't recommend them
I dumped a load of brewer's grain on a garden once-mainly as mulch, partly because I had to put it somewhere.
The worm population went through the roof!
Not just earthworms, but compost worms and tiny thready white ones that I've never seen before.
Pretty sure they were an actual species, rather than juveniles.
The downside was all that protein made for a pretty pongy garden.
My...activities...try my neighbours enough, without stinking out the neighbourhood.
I'm sure with good management, the potential smell could be dealt with.
It had great water-retention (hence the stench, I suppose) and the soil underneath was fantastic.
 
S Haze
Posts: 229
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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So Leila:

Just so we can all begin to form a hypothesis as to where the stinky threshold might lie, how thick was the layer of brewers grains you spread in the garden and about how large of an area?

Thanks!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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The spent grains make pretty good livestock feed according to various sources. The yeast by products at the end of the brewing process are the basis of vegemite, marmite and a number of similar products for human consumption. Opinions vary, but I like vegemite.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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S Haze wrote:so we can all begin to form a hypothesis as to where the stinky threshold might lie, how thick was the layer of brewers grains you spread in the garden and about how large of an area?

My post sounded like I'd piled a mountain on there
Actually, I'd say it was a couple of inches thick on a small bed, say 4x8 foot.
So low stinky-threshold...
It was in summer though. Maybe add it to the compost over summer, and use as mulch when the weather's cooler.
 
Luke Eising
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Thanks All.
Spent Brewery Grains (SBG) is great protein source for ruminants of all stripes. They have the gut bacteria to reprocess the abundant but very crude protein in it. They also appreciate the tremendous amounts of fiber.

In Monogastrics (Pigs, Poultry, us) the incomplete protein results in poor utilization (the challenge faced by vegetarians everywhere). For pigs, which I'm interested in, lysine is the limiting amino acid. In the inorganic business they use synthetic lysine, but that's not an option for me. Lysine shows up some in Amaranth and Soy, but it really is part of an animal protein (dairy would be wonderful).

So the goal would be to convert some of the excess SBG to worms, which are 70% protein - and a complete protein at that. Vermicompost would be a bonus.

The question is what critter would do the quickest/most efficient turnover into protein, and what that setup would look like. Or maybe I should just feed it to a dairy animal, and feed the pigs from that...
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Luke Eising wrote: Spent Brewery Grains (SBG) is great protein source for ruminants of all stripes. They have the gut bacteria to reprocess the abundant but very crude protein in it. They also appreciate the tremendous amounts of fiber.

Does the process that creates SBG also make the grain digestible to ruminants;
as opposed to 'fresh' grain, which they can't digest very well at all?
I don't know much about black soldier fly larvae, but people are raising them on SBG.
They're supposed to be extremely efficient at converting organic matter to compost, as well as being great poultry feed.
 
Peter Ellis
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My understanding is that worms make for good compost and bsf make for good feed. Each works for both purposes to some degree, but are optimized in different directions.
 
jimmy gallop
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Location: east and dfw texas
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Double the amount of water and aerate awhile to change from aerobic to other anaerobic .
you can then use it for fertilizer feed about any thing you would like as the smell would be minimal .
and it would be teaming with microbes .
Or just bury it.,
I would probably mix some dirt with it and aerate then bury it would attract all kinds of good soil action.
 
Luke Eising
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All right. So BSFL can be grown on SBG, and it is the best way to get protein. Thanks much, to all, especially Leila

Now I just gotta figure out how to grow them. Seems like there's lots of existing info in the forums on that.
 
jimmy gallop
Posts: 196
Location: east and dfw texas
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you can buy them on the internet it you need to
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I'm interested to hear how your work goes. I know dozens of people around here who feed SBG straight to pigs with no processing, in many cases making up 50%+ of the pigs' diet, and have only ever heard positive things. We have a nanobrewery and currently our chickens and ducks eat most of the waste, but we're planning on increasing production and feeding the SBG to pigs - it was appealing because of the ease and convenience. if an intermediate step is necessary it's a lot less appealing! But as I say, this is not the experience of people I know, so I am curious.
 
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