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Fermenting Feed at Scale  RSS feed

 
Posts: 21
Location: Minnesota
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This is my second years raising a handful of pigs. (14 last year and 10 this year) Last year we did not ferment or soak their feed at all. This year we are 'trying' to stick to a good fermenting of the grain schedule, but at the very least we always give them wet feed. Next year we will be raising more pigs and I am worried about trying to do this in a reasonable manner and time frame with more animals. Currently I use plastic totes to mix the grain and water in however, it is heavy and I am pretty much the only person in my family who can feed the pigs. Not ideal, but also not that big of a deal because I am young and don't mind the lifting and whatnot. However, I am trying to come up with some ideas on how to make this process a bit easier.

Has anybody seen or used a method they really like?

I was thinking of some sort of method that would let me almost pour or gravity feed the mix from a large holding tank or something on the back of a wagon.

How long can grain 'ferment' ? Would that raise some issues if trying to do a bunch of grain at one time.

Any ideas or thoughts welcome!
 
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Back when I was still a young child, I remember my Grandmother putting the homestead raised shelled corn into steel barrels, adding water and fermenting it for the pigs.  She just said it was easier for them to digest.  They were always super healthy, and got lots of green forage in addition to the corn.  We tossed buckets of weeds from the garden, I remember amaranth or pig weed and there were probably lamb's quarters and other stuff as well.  I don't think we ate those weeds then, but I do now.  I don't know how long she fermented the corn, but I do remember how sour it smelled. 
 
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We use 5 gallon buckets and soak for I think 36 hours.  We don't have as many pigs as you do, though.
 
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I knew that soaking grains at least 12 hours increases nutrient availability for mammals so I soaked my pigs ground feed and even tried rolled barley.
I noticed the oddest thing. It took me quite a few months to figure out the correlation but when one of the pigs got soaked grain she would start circling! I figured out that in the end it must have caused her some inflammation or swelling in her feet or hooves. It took me a long time to figure out this correlation as it is so odd. I believe it caused her pain. At first I thought it neurological.
I was in subtropics on catchment water and she was a feral pig. May have something to do with it. I think it was mycotoxins or fungal growth.  Odd but exact and immediate consistent correlation.
I had to stop soaking the grains. I tried many.
Anyone ever seen this?
 
Faye Corbett
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Kally Goschke wrote:I knew that soaking grains at least 12 hours increases nutrient availability for mammals so I soaked my pigs ground feed and even tried rolled barley.
I noticed the oddest thing. It took me quite a few months to figure out the correlation but when one of the pigs got soaked grain she would start circling! I figured out that in the end it must have caused her some inflammation or swelling in her feet or hooves. It took me a long time to figure out this correlation as it is so odd. I believe it caused her pain. At first I thought it neurological.
I was in subtropics on catchment water and she was a feral pig. May have something to do with it. I think it was mycotoxins or fungal growth.  Odd but exact and immediate consistent correlation.
I had to stop soaking the grains. I tried many.
Anyone ever seen this?



There is a lot of difference in how cracked grains work vs. whole grains.  The whole grains will actually start the sprouting process because they are intact.  Also, a fermentation produces slight amounts of alcohol.  Don't know actually.  Could be the mycotoxins or fungal growth as you mentioned. 

 
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  I've been soaking whole grains for  maybe 5 years, I like corn and barley and wheat, I also think that peas would be really easy to do , but I do not have a lot of experience with them.  Right now I am feeding soaked wheat to a group of 40 - 50 Berkshire's and I like the results.... the wheat ( SRW ) I can grow and store in a bin without drying costs associated with corn.  My set up is fairly simple with a 10 tonne bin and a flex auger going up into the barn where I have 3 big freezers .  With warm temps in the summer time  my soak is between 36 hours and 3-4 days, I rotate through the freezers , it's some shoveling and paling to get it out and right now I might feed 8 pails a day.

In the winter I keep the mix from freezing by using water pipe freeze prevention wrap immersed in 3-4" of cement mix at the bottom of the freezer.

      If you could soak the feed in a container with a straight auger underneath it and then deliver it straight to the pigs that would work.... but the whole grains might bung up on top of the auger and you have to figure out how to water proof it, but it would be good as the feed on the bottom would be soaked for the longest as you add more feed to the top....  I envision a hopper style container for the feed soaker.

I am not getting the gains on my pigs like I would by using conventional pig feed , but my costs are low and it suits my marketing.

If you come up with an idea for the hopper I would love to see it!
 
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There is interesting variation here ...  my thoughts are that fermentation times will vary with the feed and temperatures.    We've found that 24 hour fermentation with our particular mix (Flax, Peas, Oats, Barley) seems best - as determined by the hogs!  Some experimentation with times and feeding behavior showed that 24 hours pretty much drove the pigs crazy for the food.  The other issue is probably # of feeds per day ... we're doing 2.5 feeds a day for 5 hogs and a partially filled 5 gallon pail is sufficient.  I'd think for 14 hogs, you could get by with 3 buckets.  Then its a question of moving buckets vs engineering a solution...

Also, we've noticed the hogs do significantly better on this fermented mix than on "feed".
 
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When I feed grains I sprout them (malting) instead of fermenting them.
The sprouted grain has far more enzymes and natural sugars in it than fermented and I don't have to worry about alcohol being part of the liquid.
If you have any microbreweries near by, you might be able to get their spent grains which will save you lots of work since those grains are ready to feed.

 
Joshua Fryc
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Faye Corbett wrote:Back when I was still a young child, I remember my Grandmother putting the homestead raised shelled corn into steel barrels, adding water and fermenting it for the pigs.  She just said it was easier for them to digest.  They were always super healthy, and got lots of green forage in addition to the corn.  We tossed buckets of weeds from the garden, I remember amaranth or pig weed and there were probably lamb's quarters and other stuff as well.  I don't think we ate those weeds then, but I do now.  I don't know how long she fermented the corn, but I do remember how sour it smelled. 




Awesome I am sure it was pretty common knowledge/practice back in the day. I personally noticed a MASSIVE difference from this year vs last year since switching to wet/fermented feed. The pigs love it and I love it because they drink way less water.
 
Joshua Fryc
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Kally Goschke wrote:I knew that soaking grains at least 12 hours increases nutrient availability for mammals so I soaked my pigs ground feed and even tried rolled barley.
I noticed the oddest thing. It took me quite a few months to figure out the correlation but when one of the pigs got soaked grain she would start circling! I figured out that in the end it must have caused her some inflammation or swelling in her feet or hooves. It took me a long time to figure out this correlation as it is so odd. I believe it caused her pain. At first I thought it neurological.
I was in subtropics on catchment water and she was a feral pig. May have something to do with it. I think it was mycotoxins or fungal growth.  Odd but exact and immediate consistent correlation.
I had to stop soaking the grains. I tried many.
Anyone ever seen this?



Interesting! The only circling my pigs do is around me when I don't feed them fast enough. Could be something like you said with the subtropical environment? Were your other pigs okay? Maybe it was something else vs the wet feed?
 
Joshua Fryc
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Matt van Ankum wrote:  I've been soaking whole grains for  maybe 5 years, I like corn and barley and wheat, I also think that peas would be really easy to do , but I do not have a lot of experience with them.  Right now I am feeding soaked wheat to a group of 40 - 50 Berkshire's and I like the results.... the wheat ( SRW ) I can grow and store in a bin without drying costs associated with corn.  My set up is fairly simple with a 10 tonne bin and a flex auger going up into the barn where I have 3 big freezers .  With warm temps in the summer time  my soak is between 36 hours and 3-4 days, I rotate through the freezers , it's some shoveling and paling to get it out and right now I might feed 8 pails a day.

In the winter I keep the mix from freezing by using water pipe freeze prevention wrap immersed in 3-4" of cement mix at the bottom of the freezer.

      If you could soak the feed in a container with a straight auger underneath it and then deliver it straight to the pigs that would work.... but the whole grains might bung up on top of the auger and you have to figure out how to water proof it, but it would be good as the feed on the bottom would be soaked for the longest as you add more feed to the top....  I envision a hopper style container for the feed soaker.

I am not getting the gains on my pigs like I would by using conventional pig feed , but my costs are low and it suits my marketing.

If you come up with an idea for the hopper I would love to see it!




Hmmmm that sounds very interesting? Do you have any photos you wouldn't mind sharing?

Do you attribute the lack of gains to the feed?

 
Joshua Fryc
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Eliot Mason wrote:There is interesting variation here ...  my thoughts are that fermentation times will vary with the feed and temperatures.    We've found that 24 hour fermentation with our particular mix (Flax, Peas, Oats, Barley) seems best - as determined by the hogs!  Some experimentation with times and feeding behavior showed that 24 hours pretty much drove the pigs crazy for the food.  The other issue is probably # of feeds per day ... we're doing 2.5 feeds a day for 5 hogs and a partially filled 5 gallon pail is sufficient.  I'd think for 14 hogs, you could get by with 3 buckets.  Then its a question of moving buckets vs engineering a solution...

Also, we've noticed the hogs do significantly better on this fermented mix than on "feed".



So you are giving your pigs about 5 or so gallons of fermented feed a day? Is that enough to pack on the lbs?
 
Eliot Mason
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So you are giving your pigs about 5 or so gallons of fermented feed a day? Is that enough to pack on the lbs?



I don't have any weights to share, but yes, they're packing the weight on! They seem bigger every day...   I'd say they're getting closer to 6.5 gallons a day (~1.5 gallons per hog per day) - its a totally unscientific amount, based on the capacity of the hogs to eat that amount in a reasonable time .  Our feed is closer to 20% protein.   They're also in a silvopasture setting and they're definitely supplementing their feed with forage. 
 
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Eliot Mason wrote:There is interesting variation here ...  my thoughts are that fermentation times will vary with the feed and temperatures.    We've found that 24 hour fermentation with our particular mix (Flax, Peas, Oats, Barley) seems best - as determined by the hogs!  Some experimentation with times and feeding behavior showed that 24 hours pretty much drove the pigs crazy for the food.  The other issue is probably # of feeds per day ... we're doing 2.5 feeds a day for 5 hogs and a partially filled 5 gallon pail is sufficient.  I'd think for 14 hogs, you could get by with 3 buckets.  Then its a question of moving buckets vs engineering a solution...

Also, we've noticed the hogs do significantly better on this fermented mix than on "feed".




This is all really cool for me to read. I have been fermenting my chickens feed for ears now and just started into goats, sheep, and pigs this last year. I have been fermenting my goats and pig feed and adding it with alfalfa pellets for a while now. I do same with pigs and add it to fresh fruit greens, whey, ect and the pellets what ever I have on hand for them then they eat hay the rest the time. Anyway because I use this for all my animals I typically have one 5 gallon bucket I use and refill daily I never have over fermented grains because I'm constantly depleating it almost gone then add more water to the  starter left in the bucket works great. Now I do use a wheel berrle to take the food to my piggie's and a sled in the winter if needed. I would say if he needs only 5 5gallon buckets they would fit farly easy in a wheelbarrow why not do that I mean I think we all own these I have a bad arm so carrying is hard for me as well but this works well. I do actually have a question for you. I have 7 kunekune/ AGH piggie's I never know if they are getting enough grain and I'm one that isn't into huge grain fillers for any of my animals and their not skinny by any means but what would be the recommended amount of grain for them. Asking cuz you have amounts down to 5 gallon buckets lol I like that. Also my grain is a mix of barley, whole oats, BOSS,red and white wheat berries, green and yellow peas, red and regular lentils, flax, and millet
 
Tanya Ploss
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:When I feed grains I sprout them (malting) instead of fermenting them.
The sprouted grain has far more enzymes and natural sugars in it than fermented and I don't have to worry about alcohol being part of the liquid.
If you have any microbreweries near by, you might be able to get their spent grains which will save you lots of work since those grains are ready to feed.


I have made fodder and would love to add this to my fermenting as well however don't have a good set up or Money for one any chance you would know a easy low cost way to do this on a larger scale. I have 7 mini pigs 29 goat/sheep and around 70 duck/ chicken. They all love fodder on would benefit so we'll from it. Just not really a easy set up that I can afford
 
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