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Does anyone else ferment their chicken food?

 
Jane Abbott
Posts: 9
Location: Minnesota
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Permie Newbie first time poster here!

So very glad I found a group of people who are so like minded, instead of the people who look at me like I have 2 heads for raising chickens, ducks, and rabbits and dreaming of at least being self sufficient.

Anyway before I start to ramble on and on, I'm always looking for ways to cut down on feed cost for the birds and stumbled across fermenting your feed and starting a fodder system to provide the birds with twice the food for price.
I love this approach and my girls really seem to go for the fermented food over the dry pellet, we haven't tried the fodder yet but plan to.

Looking forward to hearing other peoples thoughts on fermented foods and other ways to lower cost of feed.

(Before you say to let them free range and forage, which I agree would be ideal, my hands are tied by local ordinances and the fact that while I do have 2.4 acres, we are surrounded on all sides with 1/8 - 1/2 acre r1 lots)







We have a 10x8 coop, and a 24'x32' shaded fenced run for our dozen hens and 3 ducks
 
shelby ann smith
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Jane, we have a similar problem here, we have 3 acres but like you have small family lots all around us. I was curious as to if you have found anything further about this fermenting idea. Thanks!
 
John Elliott
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I feed my birds fermented food. I get out-of-date bags of shredded cabbage/coleslaw/broccoli slaw that the grocery store is throwing out and I feed it to the chickens. Sometimes I get such a quantity that bags sit for a few weeks before I get around to feeding them to the birds. There's enough lactobacillus on them, and the plastic bags keep the conditions anaerobic, so that by the time I open them, they have turned from fresh into sauerkraut.

It's a good thing that birds can't read expiration dates.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I don't have chickens, but I do have ducks and ferment their food, which is also chicken feed. I use the Scratch and Peck food. It's local to my area, and it's whole grains, rather than ground up crumbles.

I've been fermenting it for about 3 weeks now, and my ducks gobble it us, seem stronger and healthier, and have been gaining weight with less food. I feed them about 25% less with the fermented feed than I did before I fermented the same feed. Their eggs are also a darker orange and taste much better, too. I can't speak to their egg-production, because a power outage messed up their supplemental light, and they stopped laying .

As for how I ferment, use two big glass jars, one with 2-day fermented feed, and one with 1-day fermented feed. I save the extra liquid from the older jar and then feed the duck the entire contents from that jar, and then dump the feed from the other (1-day) jar into the 2-day jar, and fill up the younger jar with new food covered in water and the liquid from the first jar. This way, the food ferments for two days. Sometimes the grains even sprout!

One warning I have is that the narrower the jar is that you ferment in, the more likely it is that the bubbles caused by fermenting will push the feed up and out of the jar. I've had this happen A LOT in my half-gallon mason jar. I now use a big gallon pickle jar. Wider jars are much better than narrow jars! If you use a narrow jar, leave a good three inches empty at the top of the jar, or it will likely flow over, making one icky mess!
 
shelby ann smith
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Nicole, hate to sound like a dumby but... how do I start the ferminting process? Do I leave food sit in water until I see Bubles or what?
 
Nicole Alderman
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You don't sound dumb at all! Every food--from yogurt, to beer, to pickles, to apple cider vinegar, etc, etc--has different fermenting requirements, it's a really good question as to how to get it started. From my understanding, there are two options:

(1) You can just put the feed in a jar and cover it with water, and cover it with a papertowel or piece of cloth. Stir it at least once a day, and in about three days (at about room tempurature) you'll have fermented feed. And, you're right, when you see bubbles, you've got them fermented. You can use the extra water on top of the feed to "kick-start" the next batch.

(2) You can add some water from raw lacto-fermented veggies (pickles, sauerkraut, etc). Bubbies Pickles, for instance, is raw lacto-fermented pickles. If the ingredients to the pickles or 'kraut has vinegar, they aren't lacto-fermented.

That should get you started! Here's some more info on it:

This is the webpage that I based my method on: http://www.yellowbirchhobbyfarm.com/fermenting-chicken-feed-the-easy-way/. They have great instructions! Instead of using left over feed to start the next batch, I just use the liguied

This person (http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/why-and-how-to-ferment-your-chicken-feed/) just strains out some everyday, and then adds more in, resulting in some more fermented than others. I don't trust this method as much, just because I don't really want to feed my ducks feed that may have been fermenting for 5 months...

This website has a lot of good tips, too: http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/10-fermenting-tips-reduce-chicken-feed-costs/.

One thing I forgot to mention (because I'm on a well and don't have to worry about it), is if you are on chlorinated tap water, any water that you add to your feed needs to be dechlorinated. To dechlorinate it, you just need to let it sit out in the open for 24 hours.

I hope that helps!
 
shelby ann smith
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Nicole, thanks for this info, very informative! I may try this.
 
Maureen Peterson
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I have been feeding fermented feed for several months... there are lots of ways to do it. I put 1:1 feed and water in a 5 gallon bucket and wait a few days. When I am down to a feeding I add feed and water. https://tikktok.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/fermented-feed-faq/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog
 
Nicole Alderman
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I thought I'd share this picture. Our ducks finally started laying again, after a two month vacation. During that time, there hasn't been much to forage (it's winter!), nor much time to forage, as I let them out at 10:30 and put them away at 2:30 due to heavy predation (my neighbor told me that they had a bob cat, last night, perched on a boulder 35 feet from their house, tearing apart a stuffed dog toy that was left on their front porch).

So, the majority of their diet has been coming from fermented feed. This is what their eggs looked like. My husband is cracking in a Trader Joes Organic Free Range egg, which normally looks orange compared to conventional eggs. Compared to ours, though, it's yellow! Our yokes were so orange they actually verged on red-orange when we were eating them (runny sunny-side up). I have never seen such dark eggs, nor tasted any so delicious--they actually almost had a nutty flavor! Also, I'm pretty sure at least one of these eggs was a duck's first egg, as we've never had green-shelled eggs from our ducks before. They were some nice-sized, well-shaped, strong eggs, especially for a duck's first egg!

I am always going to be fermenting feed from here on out! It's not only cheaper, but the eggs are a large improvement from what we were getting from them when they were foraging all day in the spring, let alone from what their eggs were when they were having reduced forage time (due to predators) and on the same feed but not fermented (their yokes were yellow in that circumstance).
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Egg Comparison
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First two days worth of eggs
 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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We have a Non-GMO feed here that has a better rating for actual no gmos then the organic, and it is 30% less in terms of cost, its not certified organic and not allowed under organic certifications if that is something you do.
My friend has been fermenting her feed for the last year, and has estimated a reduction in consumption at about 50-60% which is HUGE to me.
I am receiving my first batch of chicks for laying in a couple weeks (exciting much?)
What she did was ferment the first batch in 50/50 feed to water with a little assistance from her lacto-fermentation station (say that outloud..it sounds so great) basically a teaspoon from her kraut or pickles.
After that, she keeps 10% back to ferment the next batch overnight and feeds in the morning. She adds whatever scraps to the bin then as well.
Really sweet short and simple, a lot like having a sourdough baby kicking around.
I will be doing this and experimenting with larger sized pails as I will be having more birds then her - I will post pictures of my set up once it is complete.
I see lots of different ways to do it, I like my friends best because I have seen (and ate) the results. She has a very healthy flock of birds.

Has anyone fermented chick feed? Is it too messy for babies? I don't see much information on fermenting feed for chicks and poults - just adult laying hens.

I also want to get a meal worm farm going to add extra protein for the meat birds in the summer... I love the dyi on vela creations for this. I see this as an added value to the farm in terms of the poop and ease of low protein input to the meal worms resulting in a high protein meal worm to the chickens, ducks, geese and pigs.

Cheers
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Bre Quigley wrote:

Has anyone fermented chick feed? Is it too messy for babies? I don't see much information on fermenting feed for chicks and poults - just adult laying hens.




I only ferment chick feed. All my chicks are raised on feed I ferment in a 5 gal bucket. I put in the chick food, add a couple "glugs" of apple cider vinegar, and add water. You'll need a lot more water than you think, the chick food absorbs a lot and swells like crazy. I try to start it fermenting for at least a week before I get new chicks. Mine have all done great on fermented food.

I don't ferment food for my adult chickens because it would clog the feeders up and I haven't figured out a good way to do it. I think it would also freeze solid as a rock in winter. If I could figure a good way to do it, I would ferment their feed too.
 
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