Fermenting chicken feed may be the newest trend in chicken-keeping, but what is it, and is it worth your precious time and effort? It certainly could be. But there’s debate on the topic! Read on to find out if fermenting chicken feed is the right choice for your flock.
We also share our favorite fermented chicken feed recipes – and how to make your first batch.
- What Is Fermented Chicken Feed?
- What Supplies Do You Need to Ferment Chicken Feed?
- Five Best Fermented Chicken Feed Recipes! Easy DIY!
- 1. Fermenting Your Chicken Feed by Homesteading Family
- 2. Save Cash with Fermented Grains by Brimwood Farm
- 3. How to Ferment Chicken Feed Easy and DIY by Welcome to Chickenlandia
- 4. Fermenting Your Chicken Feed and Cut Your Bill in Half by Our Organic Life
- 5. Making Healthy Homemade Fermented Chicken Feed by Acres of Adventure Homestead
- What to Look for When Fermented Chicken Feed Goes Wrong
What Is Fermented Chicken Feed?
Fermented chicken feed is a form of lacto-fermentation (a fancy term for how pickles or sourdough get made) and might serve a role in your chicken’s diet.
Fermented food is more easily digested and provides lots of good bacteria and probiotics for healthy chickens and nutritious eggs.
You can get started with just a few simple supplies and have a fermented chicken treat ready for your flock in a few days. You might try fermented feeds for chooks of all shapes and sizes – from chicks to laying hens to broilers.
In a Nutshell, Should I Give My Flock Fermented Chicken Feed?
Maybe! We know your chickens will love eating fermented chicken feed. And it’s also easy for your flock to digest! However, we’ve read conflicting reports about whether it’s a suitable replacement for regular chicken feed.
We searched far and wide for studies depicting the efficacy of fermented chicken feed on flock and poultry health. We also found dozens (and more) of homesteaders and small ranchers who swear that fermenting your chicken feed is a miracle maneuver!
Fermented chicken feed allegedly gives a dietary boost and can help lower your feed bill. We also found sources that say it can help boost your chicken’s immune system!
However, we could only find a small handful of trustworthy studies citing the clear-cut benefits. Also – we determined that many fermented chicken feed studies were small-scale. Meaning they only contained a few hundred chickens – over a tiny period.
But – we still think fermented chicken feed is safe as a special treat for your flock. And – we also believe your chickens will love eating it!
Continue reading to learn more about fermented chicken feed! We share the best-fermented chicken feed studies we could find. We also share our anecdotes and experience with making fermented chicken feed.
What Is Fermented Feed? Why Do Chicken Farmers Use It?
Fermentation is a natural process where good microbes and yeasts break down starch and glucose found in grains and replace it with lactic acid. This process creates an environment where undesirable bacteria get stifled. But good bacteria like Lactobacillus can thrive (and pass on digestive and immune benefits to your chickens).
We also believe that the fermenting process makes feed easier to digest! The easy digestion (in theory) causes hens to eat less fermented than dry feed.
(We also found a study that cites dry-diet chickens having higher feed rates than fermented-diet chickens in the fall months. But – the study also warns that the feed consumption data wasn’t 100% reliable – as the feed collection was difficult to measure.)
Nevertheless – fermented chicken feed may provide other health benefits! The fermented chicken feed may lead to more eggs. The study also found that chickens fed fermented feed laid 9% more eggs overall than their dry-fed neighbors!
What Supplies Do You Need to Ferment Chicken Feed?
You likely already have all supplies needed to ferment your chicken feed sitting around the homestead or house. To start, all you need is your dry feed (this can be chick starter, layer feed, scratch grains mixes, or other seeds or grains), a clean bucket or container, clean water, and a cool and dry space to let those good bacteria get to work!
We love this chicken feed fermenting kit! The kit contains organic whole barley and organic layer feed and instructions for creating a freshly-sprouted fermented chicken feed. You also get a quart-sized jar for fermenting - and cheesecloth screens for draining.
All ingredients are USDA organic certified. We know fermenting your first batch of chicken feed is overwhelming. And daunting! This fermenting kit makes it much more straightforward. No more second-guessing!
A Couple of Notes on Fermented Chicken Feed Supplies
Use clean, non-chlorinated water. Chlorinated water (used in many municipal water systems) can kill the good bacteria before they ever get started fermenting your feed.
So, although you can use clean tap water, double-check what may get added to your water. And use other water sources if your tap gets chlorinated.
Another option is to let the chlorine evaporate from the tap water before you use it. Chlorine is a gas at room temperature and it will evaporate over time. Sciencing has more information on how to remove chlorine from your tap water.
Use a glass, ceramic, or BPA-free plastic container for fermenting. Make sure it has a loose-fitting lid that keeps dust and bugs out! The loose container lid should also allow gasses to escape from the container.
How to Ferment Chicken Feed Step-by-Step
- Gather your supplies! A clean container, water, and dry feed.
- Pour a day’s (or single serving) worth of feed into the bottom of the container.
- Completely cover your feed with water until it is fully submerged.
- That’s it! Cover your container loosely with a lid to keep the gunk out. And ideally, place it where you won’t trip over it.
- Now you wait. Stir your feed a couple of times a day. Look for bubbles and a slightly sour smell. Depending on how hot or cool your area is, this could take from one to four days. Be sure to keep the feed submerged underwater. Add more water as necessary if it drops below the chicken feed.
- When the top of the fermented feed is bubbly, you’re ready! Drain off excess water, and feed your happy (and hungry) chickens.
How to Feed Fermented Food to Your Flock
Okay, you have a beautiful, bubbling bucket of fermented chicken feed. Now what? Drain off the excess water, and feed the mash to your flock!
Be sure to offer what they can eat in one sitting, and remove any feed left at the end of the day.
Once drained, the fermented feed can spoil fast, and you don’t want to leave moldy feed in your coop.
However, leftovers can be refrigerated, which preserves the feed and enables you to offer it again the next day!
Five Best Fermented Chicken Feed Recipes! Easy DIY!
We know that following instructions on how to make fermented chicken feed is tricky. And daunting!
So – we tracked down the most popular and famous DIY fermented chicken feed recipes. And tutorials!
We hope these recipes help you.
1. Fermenting Your Chicken Feed by Homesteading Family
2. Save Cash with Fermented Grains by Brimwood Farm
3. How to Ferment Chicken Feed Easy and DIY by Welcome to Chickenlandia
4. Fermenting Your Chicken Feed and Cut Your Bill in Half by Our Organic Life
5. Making Healthy Homemade Fermented Chicken Feed by Acres of Adventure Homestead
What to Look for When Fermented Chicken Feed Goes Wrong
To ensure that your fermented feed is healthy and beneficial to your flock, you’ll need to keep an eye on each batch. Fermented chicken feed should have tell-tale bubbles on top to let you know that good fermentation is happening.
- If a fermented chicken feed batch smells moldy or sour or starts to form mold on top, discard it! Clean your equipment, and begin a new chicken feed batch from scratch.
- Similarly, only feed what your flock can eat in one sitting, and remove any fermented feed left in the feeder to prevent chickens from eating moldy or rotting leftover chicken feed.
- Make sure to give each batch the time it needs to ferment. A study showed that hydrated feed (chicken feed soaked in water but immediately fed to hens) led to delayed egg laying.
- Allow your feed to soak in water for one to four days until it begins to bubble on top. Doing so ensures that it is fermented and that your chickens get all the plausible benefits – including digestibility, immune support, and gut health.
- But don’t wait too long! The longer you let a batch ferment, the sourer it will taste. Letting it go too long may not be to the liking of your chickens. Experiment with the length of soaking to determine what fermentation level your flock enjoys best!
Do you feel ready to try fermenting feed for your flock? It’s a small commitment that can have great benefits. Fermented feed is an easy and flexible project for homesteaders. You can make a batch once in a blue moon as a treat for your flock or more frequently. To get started? Gather a clean container, water, and regular chicken feed. And then wait a few days!
In return, your hungry flock will get an easily-digested food packed with probiotics for immune support and gut health. Because it’s easy to digest, it makes an excellent supplementary snack for their regular chicken die.
Gather your bucket, water, and feed. Give fermenting your chicken feed a try today! Your hens or broilers will thank you for it.
What about you?
Do you have experience making fermented chicken feed for your coop?
Do your chickens enjoy eating it? Or – do they prefer dry feed?
We’d love to hear your feedback!
Thanks so much for reading.
And – have a great day!