You all know how much Oh Lardy loves to ferment foods! If it is a veggie, a fruit, even a juice, we have tried to ferment it. So, it should come as no surprise that I decided to ferment my chicken feed.
I mean, why not? Fermenting their food will improve the enzyme content and increase vitamin levels! Fermenting chicken feed will make it more digestible, more bioavailable AND boost usable protein level! That is pretty awesome, don’t you think?
Before I delve into the recipe, I want to be sure you saw that we have a great guide on raising backyard chickens…everything you need to know from chick to egg and beak to feet.
Yes, there is an extra step involved when fermenting chicken feed. Will it be worth it? What kinds of benefits will you see when you start this practice?
For starters, your hens will stop wasting their food! They find it so delicious that they just eat it right up! When my hens eat from their dry food container, I notice food all around it! This is because they peck and throw stuff out that they don’t want. When I put a bowl of fermented food down, it is empty by the end of the day!
Also, now that there are a lot of good lacto-fermentation bugs in the food, the hens’ immune systems are given a boost and they have an easier time keeping disease at bay. Healthy and robust chickens are great to have because they are happy. And happy hens lay eggs.
I have known about fermented chicken feed for quite some time, but only recently started feeding it to my hens. After all of my hens completed their yearly molt, only one hen returned to laying. One out of FIVE. They all seemed happy. They had a clean coop and plenty of the snacks they enjoy. I was stumped. I have heard that fermenting chicken food results in lots of eggs. Getting lots of eggs in the nest box was my main reason for fermenting their feed. Three days after starting to feed my hens fermented chicken feed, the remaining 4 hens resumed laying eggs. YAY!!
Okay, so how do you do it? It is so easy, friends. All you need is a container, chicken feed, water, and time.
There are several ways to do this and today I am going to share with you my method. I wanted to be sure that I only fermented what they would eat in one day. This was a total guess. And it will be an experiment with you too. Bottom line is that I wanted the bowl to be empty at the end of the day, just not empty too soon.
I have five hens. I started out with fermenting three cups of chicken feed at a time. This seems to be the perfect amount for them. I backed off to two cups and it was clearly not enough.
How to Ferment Chicken Feed
- On Day 1 fill a half gallon mason jar (or other suitable container) with your desired amount of chicken feed. For me, I use 3 cups.
- Fill your container with filtered water until it covers the feed by an inch or two.
- Add a lid and set it on the counter to wait 3 days.
- On Day 2, repeat Step 1 and set the jar next to Day 1.
- On Day 3, repeat Step 1 and set the jar next to Day 1 and Day 2.
- On Day 4, empty the fermented chicken feed from Day 1 into a bowl and feed it to your hens. Watch them go crazy for it! Wash your jar and repeat Step 1. Place your jar at the end of the line next to the jars from Day 2 and Day 3.
- On Day 5, feed the fermented chicken feed in the jar from Day 2 to your hens, wash your jar, and start the process all over again.
Are you starting to see the rotation? Basically by Day 4, you will have a jar of fermented chicken feed ready to feed your hens every day. I am finding that a three-day fermentation is working well right now. Two days isn’t enough time and anything longer than 3 days results in a more sour feed. And the hens simply don’t like it. This is all trial and error.
Of course, in warmer months, the fermenting process may speed up and it will be ready sooner. And then, in the winter months, it may take longer. You will know when the feed is ready when it is nice and bubbly. The feed will have a sour smell, but shouldn’t smell rotten or putrid. My family thinks that fermented chicken feed smells gross. But it doesn’t smell like the fermentation went south. As with all ferments, a bad ferment will have clear signs that it is bad (foul smell, mold, etc). Besides, your hens aren’t stupid. They won’t eat it if it is bad.
I have a feeling that I may be spoiling my hens with this awesome food. If I am not out there with a bowl of food by 9am, they are at my backdoor acting all sad and hungry.
I am really interested to feed fermented chicken feed to new chicks whenever we get more. I am curious to see if I notice any differences in their growth or when they come in to lay. I know for certain that fermented chicken feed could have helped my molting hens, due to the boost in usable protein. I am hoping next fall they will come out of their molt sooner with the help of the fermented chicken feed.
So, are you going to give this practice a try? It is really easy and the benefits are awesome. Do you already ferment your chicken feed? Do you have a method that you love? Please share it with us in the comments!
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