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Spent brewer's grain and whey ferment for PIGS?

 
Kris Hoffman
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Location: North Central WI
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Greetings from north central WI -home of beer and cheese. We currently run 20-30 feeder pigs (Berkshire and large black) in a pasture setting- rotationally grazing them over the summer/fall. I am currently feeding organic feed ration plus whey. After a good look at the pig's bottom line and feedback from my customer base- I am investigating other sources of local feed. I can get spent brewer's grain from a craft brew pub once weekly-think a pickup load of 70% moisture, high fiber material with most of the sugars pulled out in the brewing process. I can also get nearly unlimited amounts of whey each week, I pick up in that same old dodge pickup truck in a 300 gallon tote.
anyone have experience in fermenting slop for pigs- would these make decent substrates? the spent grains aren't that valuable for a monogastric digestive system-would fermenting bump up the availability?
alternatively considering using the spent grains as a substrate for wine cap mushrooms.
Thanks! Kris
 
R Scott
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Spent grains are great--they already HAVE been fermented, and have a pretty good protein profile left. Pigs DEVOUR spent grains.

So does whey.

You need to find a cheap healthy carb source to round out the ration. Maybe sorghum (milo)? maybe (non-GMO) sugar beets or turnips? Are you looking to buy or grow?
 
Kris Hoffman
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Thanks for the input! Are you raising pigs on spent grains now? part of my concern with spent grains is 'shelf life' a big pile of wet grains is going to mold pretty fast- I thought fermentation/acidification might be a solution to that. I am also mentally weighing the cost of my time in handling/putzing with the feed versus the relative value of the feed. 30 finishing hogs go through a lot of feed and it's all being fed by hand right now! We have 15 acres in pasture- not growing our own pig feed. pastured broilers, couple steers to finish, rabbits in tractors and ducks!
K
 
R Scott
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I am not anymore, my brother in laws were--both hogs and cattle BIG scale. We were the 55 gallon barrel to IBC tote scale, they were full semi loads. Anything to increase good bacteria is good, but we never had a problem with spoilage within a week--the alcohol preserved it that long.

 
Walter Jeffries
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We raise pigs on pasture - that is most of what they eat. We also feed whey (about 1,000 to 2,000 gallons a day) and a little spent barley from a local brew pub. All good stuff.

We do managed rotational grazing on our pastures - that is very important to breaking parasite life cycles, maximizing forage growth and preventing soil compaction. It's pretty easy to do. The key is many small paddocks rather than a few big ones.

The whey adds lysine to the pigs's diet (see http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs and follow the feed links). Lysine is an important limiting amino-acid necessary for building proteins and thus growth. There is a little bit of calories but not much in the whey. I yogurtize the whey which helps provide good bacteria.

The spent barley is high in protein, fibers and minerals - don't let it be more than about 25% of the pigs's diet or it can cause problems. Watch their manure. If you see barley coming out the back end in quantity you're feeding too much. Also good for chickens. Extra barley composts very nicely.

Apple pomace (pressed apples from cider making) and orchard drops are another good food. We seasonally have these. I plant apple trees between our paddocks for this.

In our pastures we plant soft grasses, legumes, brassicas, chicory and other forages by hand broadcast seeding with the mob, storm and frost.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
in Vermont
 
S Carreg
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Just wanted to clear up this common misconception that spent brewing grain has been fermented or is alcoholic. It's not. In the brewing process you take malted grain and mash it - basically steeping it in hot water - usually for no more than an hour. You then strain out the solids, and the wort - the liquid - goes on to be fermented into alcohol.
So the grain has only been steeped in hot water, thus extracting the fermentable sugars (most of the carbohydrate) and leaving behind high bulk fiber and protein content. The resulting SBG is in no way fermented or alcoholic. It will go on to ferment if left like that, but there is also a high risk of spoilage. We find that our SBG keeps fine for about a week in sealed plastic tubs, but I wouldn't feed it to stock beyond 1 week old. Our chickens love it but they only ever eat about 1/3 of what they are offered (whatever the amount) - I think they pick out the best bits and leave the chaff.

We are getting our first pigs soon and hoping that SBG will form a large part of their diet - the breeder we are getting them from says that for up to 50% of their diet it should be fine.
 
Walter Jeffries
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S Carreg wrote:We are getting our first pigs soon and hoping that SBG will form a large part of their diet - the breeder we are getting them from says that for up to 50% of their diet it should be fine.


Based on what I've read in the scientific literature and my own experience of watching their manure I would set the level at no more than 25%. If you see barley coming out the back end, back off the level.
 
S Carreg
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Thank you for that, it's a good tip and I will definitely keep a close eye on how they react to it. The breeder - who comes highly recommended and with several generations of experience - says they have used up to 50% SBG at times when it was available and the pigs have thrived. But as we're newbies we'll be cautious.
 
Walter Jeffries
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One trick to improving the feeding of spent barley is to mix it with other things rather than having them eat it in large clumps. This can be mixing it with hay or spreading the barley out over the ground so they have to pick it up a little at a time rather than grabbing huge mouthfuls. When the grab large amounts in a feeding frenzy is when it can end up especially bad clumping and cause constipation and even at the very worse rectal prolapsing. Eating on the ground on good dirt also gives them more minerals. Feeding on a deep bedding pack of hay which is composting is a good way to do it too - especially during our deep winter periods when we're up high on snow.
 
Ben Walter
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I've had good luck feeding spent-grains to pigs...I actually use if for all the animals. I find that it stores much better without getting too "sour" if you drain it. I get it in 55-gallon drums, and when they had a hole in the bottom and could leak out excess moisture, it stays "sweeter" longer.

I've had good with the sbg up to 50% or so. I feed lots of sweet potatoes as a carb replacement. The easiest was strip grazing the pigs across the sweet potato pasture and letting them do the harvesting. I also add some kelp and conventional feed at times. I also feed scraps from the house and a restaurant I sell to. They keep the scraps refrigerated so I don't pasteurize it. It only lasts a day or two, but I figure it gives them some nutritional variety. I also feed excess milk/yogurt from my cows...which usually isn't much.

I'm working on planting out some "pig-fattening" paddocks in the next few weeks....lots of sweet potatoes and jerusalem artichokes, and I'll mix in extra garden seeds, sorghum, etc. It's all in an old pecan orchard that will hopefully produce in years to come. I also plan to add some apple, pears, and chestnut trees, but I will have to figure out a way to keep them protected cheaply. good luck!
 
Ben Walter
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Location: Deland, FL
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PS- I experimented by putting thin layers of spent brewing grains with coastal bermuda hay in a 5-gallon bucket. I just guessed at the mixing ratio and kept the layers thin. I let it sit for a month and half with a tight lid and it ensiled perfectly. It smelled super sweet and just had a little crap on top were the lid cracked when I dropped something on it. I pealed that off and the cows and sheep loved it! I didn't think to try it with the pigs...it would be a great way to store excess if you can't use everything you have before it gets nasty. You do have to wait a while (1 month plus) to get access to it again though.

I would also ensile it in larger batches...
 
R Scott
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S Carreg wrote:Just wanted to clear up this common misconception that spent brewing grain has been fermented or is alcoholic. It's not. In the brewing process you take malted grain and mash it - basically steeping it in hot water - usually for no more than an hour. You then strain out the solids, and the wort - the liquid - goes on to be fermented into alcohol.
So the grain has only been steeped in hot water, thus extracting the fermentable sugars (most of the carbohydrate) and leaving behind high bulk fiber and protein content. The resulting SBG is in no way fermented or alcoholic. It will go on to ferment if left like that, but there is also a high risk of spoilage. We find that our SBG keeps fine for about a week in sealed plastic tubs, but I wouldn't feed it to stock beyond 1 week old. Our chickens love it but they only ever eat about 1/3 of what they are offered (whatever the amount) - I think they pick out the best bits and leave the chaff.

We are getting our first pigs soon and hoping that SBG will form a large part of their diet - the breeder we are getting them from says that for up to 50% of their diet it should be fine.


Oops, I was thinking DISTILLER'S grain, slight difference. Semantics matter sometimes.



 
Ben Walter
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Location: Deland, FL
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Oh, and when I do have grains that get too sour they go to the chickens. I often put a pile in the next paddock they will be in and cover it with old hay or leaves. After it sits for a while it's full of bugs and they love digging through it. You can't even tell there was anything there once they finish with it....maybe a little hay thrown about.
 
Ann Torrence
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We may have dodged another regulatory fiasco with brewers using spent grains-the colossal FDA disaster-in-making called the Food Safety Modernization Act is being amended thanks to strong push back by the citizenry.

Farmers, brewers await grain’s fate under new FDA rule from The Coloradan.

Scariest line in the article: "13.6 million dollars, on average, a brewery would have to spend to comply with the FDA's proposed regulations on spent grain, according to a study by The Beer Institute, a Washington-based lobby for brewers."

Best line: "The (FDA) had a solution in hand, but they didn’t have a problem."
 
Mike Patterson
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R Scott wrote:
Oops, I was thinking DISTILLER'S grain, slight difference. Semantics matter sometimes.



Grains used by a distillery would be mashed in the same way as a brewery and would also not be fermented or alcoholic.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Mike Patterson wrote:
R Scott wrote:Oops, I was thinking DISTILLER'S grain, slight difference. Semantics matter sometimes.

Grains used by a distillery would be mashed in the same way as a brewery and would also not be fermented or alcoholic.


From a feed point of view there is a difference between distiller's grains and brewers grains. The first is generally corn and can cause soft fat in pork when fed over about 7% of the diet. The last is generally barley and can go up to 50% of the diet although I would recommend not over 25%. There is considerable research on this. Both are good feeds but need some differences in handling.
 
Kevin Gant
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I pasture pigs. i feed non-gmo organic feed. I also get spent beer grains. My brewer's grains are non-gmo, so that's a yippee!

I do feed it to them a little at a time. The rest goes into making kick ass compost with wood chips. Throw in some other stuff and the compost temperature stays at 160 f and cooks really good. The chickens love to nibble on it as well. My goats, not too much.
 
Mike Patterson
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Walter Jeffries wrote:
Mike Patterson wrote:
R Scott wrote:Oops, I was thinking DISTILLER'S grain, slight difference. Semantics matter sometimes.

Grains used by a distillery would be mashed in the same way as a brewery and would also not be fermented or alcoholic.


From a feed point of view there is a difference between distiller's grains and brewers grains. The first is generally corn and can cause soft fat in pork when fed over about 7% of the diet. The last is generally barley and can go up to 50% of the diet although I would recommend not over 25%. There is considerable research on this. Both are good feeds but need some differences in handling.


Sure, but the point was whether the grains would be fermented and alcoholic, not what the grain bill was composed of. And it really depends on the distillery or brewery. Most craft breweries would indeed be using mostly barley or at least "all-grain", but larger brewers will likely use more adjuncts such as rice and corn. And with distilleries is really depends. Single malt whiskey will be all barley, bourbon is by law at least 50% corn, rum is sugar cane, there's a place in Colorado making whiskey using 100% potatoes. So I guess that, as with all things, it's best to check with your source and know what you're getting.

But again, no matter where the fermentable sugars are coming from and regardless of brewery vs. distillery, the spent whatever will not be fermented or alcoholic.
 
Jeff Kent
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Hi there, I'm new to this site and forums in general. My friend just sent me the link to this discussion and it's certainly one of great interest for me as I raise pigs on both whey and sbg. I've been feeding in troughs mixing both the whey, sbg, and other various gleaned feeds together. The pigs are also on rotational pastures and receive between 400-1,000lbs of veggie scraps a day. I have certainly encountered the problem of feeding to heavy a percentage of sbg. I think we're about a 50% mix right now and luckily before we reduced our sbg feeding percentage we only had one prolapsed rectum and caught it soon enough to save the pig. So I very much agree with Walter that no more than 50% of their diet should be sbg less if you've got more to mix it with. The vets I talked to here also suggested hydration might have been an issue, this did happen during one of our 100+ degree spells.

I am currently getting the sbg in 55 gallon barrels and have been experimenting with adding different liquids directly into the barrel to ferment the grains. I've used molasses, malted water aka beer, whey, and straight water. I'm not sure which would really provide the best nutritional enhancement to the feed but I have found that the malted water mixed with some molasses and poured into the 55 gallon drums then roughly mixed seems to provide a much greater longevity to the spent grain. This may be to the sugar content of the molasses I'm not really sure, I'm no scientist just a curious farmer. I would be curious though if there are any places I could provide a sample to for analysis.

I can also attest to the leftovers turning into amazing compost with some green waste or even just funky straw/hay.

And if anyone is interested I have looked into and there have been a few field tests but there is no GMO barley in production right now.
 
Rudy Valvano
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alternatively considering using the spent grains as a substrate for wine cap mushrooms.


A little off topic, but using SBG to grow mushrooms is exactly where my journey towards permaculture began. On the Discovery Channel they grew mushrooms in the grain, then composted the grain with worms. Fed the worms to fish. Shrimp ate their poop, and veggies in floating rafts fed off the urine. Systems feeding systems.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Mike Patterson wrote:no matter where the fermentable sugars are coming from and regardless of brewery vs. distillery, the spent whatever will not be fermented or alcoholic.


Exactly. It's pre-fermenting so no alcohol from that and the sugars are removed so it doesn't ferment after either. Mold in warm temperatures is an issue.
 
John Saltveit
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Kris,
I absolutely love this topic and the possibilities it brings up. I'm not sure that wine cap is the best mushroom to grow on SBG because they normally grow on wood chips. It's possible that oysters would grow better on it, but I'm not sure. DOes anyone else know?
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Mike Patterson wrote:
R Scott wrote:
Oops, I was thinking DISTILLER'S grain, slight difference. Semantics matter sometimes.



Grains used by a distillery would be mashed in the same way as a brewery and would also not be fermented or alcoholic.


Not always, some are fermented on the grain with the liquid being strained off to go into the pot. Beers are always Wort, while allgrain whisky is fermented on the grain. Moonshine is an allgrain whiskey, fermented on the grain then strained to get the beer cleared for putting into the pot still.
 
Paul Ewing
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One thing you need to remember when feeding whey and brewers/distillers grain is that some states will require a garbage feeding license to use the products as pig feed. The only way you can get around it is if you are feeding items produced on your own farm. Anything brought in from other businesses would be classified as garbage feeding.
 
andrew antonio
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Kris Hoffman wrote:Greetings from north central WI -home of beer and cheese. We currently run 20-30 feeder pigs (Berkshire and large black) in a pasture setting- rotationally grazing them over the summer/fall. I am currently feeding organic feed ration plus whey. After a good look at the pig's bottom line and feedback from my customer base- I am investigating other sources of local feed. I can get spent brewer's grain from a craft brew pub once weekly-think a pickup load of 70% moisture, high fiber material with most of the sugars pulled out in the brewing process. I can also get nearly unlimited amounts of whey each week, I pick up in that same old dodge pickup truck in a 300 gallon tote.
anyone have experience in fermenting slop for pigs- would these make decent substrates? the spent grains aren't that valuable for a monogastric digestive system-would fermenting bump up the availability?
alternatively considering using the spent grains as a substrate for wine cap mushrooms.
Thanks! Kris


Thanks for sharing! I'm in the process of picking up spent brewers grain from my local brewery and I was wondering if you could share your pickup and feeding process. I imagine a 300lb tote weighs close to 3000 lbs once it's full. How many do you transport in your truck (I have a 1500 Dodge Ram 2001), do you leave your truck at the brewery until it's filled, how do you unload it at your farm?

Thanks!

-Andrew
 
Walter Jeffries
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andrew antonio wrote:I was wondering if you could share your pickup and feeding process. I imagine a 300lb tote weighs close to 3000 lbs once it's full. How many do you transport in your truck (I have a 1500 Dodge Ram 2001), do you leave your truck at the brewery until it's filled, how do you unload it at your farm?


We pickup spent barley from a brewer and spent apple pomace from a cider mill. We have two methods:

1. Trash barrels which weigh a few hundred pounds. Typically lifted in and out of our truck by two people. We stack these two high in our truck (Ford E-350 extended body with a hauling space having a stainless steel pan in the back. See: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2014/03/10/stainless-steel-pig-carrier/

2. 4'x4'x4' totes which the brewer/cider maker loads into our truck (three with two in the back and one in the center) using their fork lift and then we unload using our fork lift attachment on our tractor at home on the farm. These weigh 800 to 1,200 lbs each.

On a smaller scale smaller totes and 5 gallon pails can be done by hand.
 
Ivan Weiss
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My hogs, and my cattle, get not only all all the spent brewers' barley (all certified organic) that they can handle, but also all the liquid yeast. I mix the yeast with the barley and also their commercial pelleted ration. I also mix the yeast with okara that I get from the local tofu factory. All their soybeans are certified organic. The yeast, in addition to B Vitamins, provides the lysine that the okara lacks, thereby completing the amino acid requirements for a complete protein.

When I get bread (by the pickup truck load) from a nearby food bank, I saturate it with the liquid yeast and throw it to the hogs. As you might expect, they make short work of it. My hogs are on pasture, which provides the bulk of their ration.
 
Ian Mack
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Would it even be an issue feeding the pigs moldy or "sour" spent grains? I've seen them gobble down rotten/moldy fruits and veggies and come back for more on a few of the farms I've visited. Is there a fundamental difference between the molds on grains and the molds on fruits/veggies? Or have the farms I've been to been doing it wrong and just been lucky so far because of antibiotics fed to the pigs?
 
Walter Jeffries
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Ian Mack wrote:Would it even be an issue feeding the pigs moldy or "sour" spent grains? I've seen them gobble down rotten/moldy fruits and veggies and come back for more on a few of the farms I've visited. Is there a fundamental difference between the molds on grains and the molds on fruits/veggies? Or have the farms I've been to been doing it wrong and just been lucky so far because of antibiotics fed to the pigs?


The mycotoxins can kill small pigs and cause miscarriages + dead piglets in gestating sows.
 
Ian Mack
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Walter Jeffries wrote:The mycotoxins can kill small pigs and cause miscarriages + dead piglets in gestating sows.

Ah, okay, so it's fine for larger pigs but can upset the smaller ones?
Also, I'm curious about how spent brewer's grain would go for Guinea Hogs. I've heard they tend to do best on pasture and poorly on anything else; would supplementing their diet with SBG just tend to make them obese then?
 
Walter Jeffries
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Ian Mack wrote:
Walter Jeffries wrote:The mycotoxins can kill small pigs and cause miscarriages + dead piglets in gestating sows.

Ah, okay, so it's fine for larger pigs but can upset the smaller ones?


I wouldn't say "fine" but rather "less bad" instead. It can reduce growth rates in sufficient quantities.

Ian Mack wrote:I'm curious about how spent brewer's grain would go for Guinea Hogs. I've heard they tend to do best on pasture and poorly on anything else;


I am incline to think that is mythology.

Ian Mack wrote:would supplementing their diet with SBG just tend to make them obese then?


Spent brewer's grains are very low in calories and would not make them obese.

-Walter
 
Ian Mack
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I see! In that case, only the freshest fruit and vegetable waste for my future piggies!
Thanks for the very informative answers, Walter!
 
Derick Greenly
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Pigs are the great waste eliminators of the homestead.

I'd like to weigh in with my experience from the past year, when my employment at a microbrewery made pig raising several times more viable and low on purchased inputs.

The brewery uses 16-19 55lb. Bags of malt every brew. Being vexed and perplexed by the speed at which BSG turns mouldy and smells like feet, I sought storage techniques approachable at the medium-scale level. Drying was one, in which malt was raked out on a flatbed, raked twice on a sunny day and placed in the granary. Formidable, but I have no flatbed, nor any granary. A few documents mentioned "ensilage", or anaerobic fermentation, similar to corn silage done in big plastic worm bags.

Thus, my curiosity was piqued.

I now ferment all my grains, feeds and spent malt in 55gal. Plastic drums, covered in fresh water. Addition of sugars, such as scrap wort available to keen brewery workers after the boil, only accentuates the ferment and, I think, offsets some of the disproportionate fibre which is so notoriously problematic. Storage without any off smells (besides pickly beer) is boosted to about 3 weeks in broad August sunlight, and indefinitely in cold months. Colour me a convert. I wonder also if the ferment makes the malt more digestible. It certainly sharpens porcine appetites.

Though all-organic breweries are scarce, I seem to recall that the brewing industry has its own strict standards set out which greatly diminish the nasties that may be sprayed on barley. Can anyone weigh in here?
 
John Saltveit
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I think that the point of fermentation and cultivation of fungi is to intentionally inoculate the substrate with something that will make it into food for the eaters instead of spoiling, which by definition is not good. I would be rather certain that something like oyster mushrooms, sourdough culture, or turkey tails could be successful if done right. The key is setting up the process. Have the mycelium already running, to paraphrase paul stamets, and the substrate goes on rails into the goldmine, to intentionally mix metaphors. Probably a timing pattern is necessary and a container of some kind, along the path of the process. The specifics would be different if you're turning it into human food or pig food. I'm sure a timing process including appropriate containers for the size of substrate could be set up to turn this into nutritious and delicious food for humans or pigs, depending on the available containers and manpower timing, which would inevitably depend on the taste and dollar value of the end product, in terms of how much people like it and what they'd pay for it. This is a potential successful sustainable business model.
John S
PDX OR
 
Walter Jeffries
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If you are going to go the fermenting route you may want to try inoculating with the bacteria from yogurt.
 
Derick Greenly
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Yes! Or a shot of buttermilk. But lactobacillus is so prevalent in breweries and grain mills, the starter is mostly for your peace of mind. Success is the norm here. It's a great excuse to pick up buttermilk and throw a pancake party, though.
 
John Saltveit
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Good ideas. It seems that what we need is to have someone get out and do these experiments and give us the empirical data we need to make this reality.
John S
PDX OR
 
Susan Hessel
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I have a couple smallish pigs (a pot belly and a kunekune) on my 3/4 acre (plus some of the neighbors' yards) urban permaculture adventure in Wisconsin. I have fed brewery grains to the pigs and chickens from friends home-brews, pretty small amounts in other words. They seem to love them. Otherwise my experience with brewery grains is minimal; the info in this thread does offer some inspiration as there are many small breweries in my area, and more every year.

I have been collecting the waste stream from a local, organic kombucha company for a couple years. It started with just a few 5 gallon buckets a week, but has grown to over 70 gallons a week of tea dregs mixed with SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). The pigs love the SCOBY and I think it is a great probiotic for them. It is also a great starter for composting the tea dregs. I dump the mix on the the flat top of a slope and the animals pick through it as they wish (this is the only compost pile they get access to). As they pick through the mix it is spread out on the flat side-- which I occasionally shovel back on the pile-- or rolls down the slope (just a few feet). At the bottom of the slope is a fine compost that gets mixed with other composts and added to beds.

This is just a supplement to the diet of the pigs and chickens who free range and also get a ration of feed twice daily, occasional left overs of slightly dated fruit and veggies from a neighborhood food pantry, wind fall fruits and such, sun chokes and squash in the winter months, etc.
 
Robin Kyle
Posts: 21
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I don't have pigs but have been feeding my ducks spent brewery grains since the summer. In the summer the ducks liked them for 2 days before they started to mold. since the winter weather has begun the mold isn't coming quick and they even eat them frozen and are eating them as late as a week old. I love the idea of fermenting them with water and molasses and will talk to my brewery about getting scrap wort? I supplement the grains with quibble a vitamin/mineral pellet to supplement homemade feeds and add Kelp powder to it also. I give them diluted whey each day and it is incredible for egg production and size.Other than the bugs they find and the veggie scraps they get from our kitchen that is all they eat, oh and they also get a little layer feed about every other night to add some carbs but they really don't seem to be suffering for lack of them. They are healthy and lay 6 out of 7 days a week big orange yolk eggs that taste amazing.
 
Ernest Rando
Posts: 31
Location: Fredericktown, Ohio
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We use milk and whey from our dairy to add to the organic grain feed that we give our pastured pigs and it has cut the 6 month grow time down to 5 months. We let the milk sit in the buckets of grain for 12-24 hours doing a simple lacto fermentation. they love it. Fox Hollow Farm Naturally Dot Com with some photos on YouTube if interested. We are a Holistically Managed and Permaculturally Designed Farmstead specializing in mixed species grazing
 
We don't have time for this. We've gotta save the moon! Or check this out:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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