Many of you are probably new to the idea of fermenting foods. But people have been fermenting food for centuries for gut health. And wouldn’t you know that your chickens could also benefit from this practice? There are so many claims why fermented chicken feed is best for your chickens. But are they real? Will fermenting chicken feed produce better eggs and health? Let’s take a look at the science!
Benefits Of Fermenting Chicken Feed
There are five big claims of fermenting chicken feed. But some of these claims seem too good to be true. But we assure you that they aren’t! And here are some facts why.
One of the best benefits of fermenting chicken feed is that it improves digestion. When smelling the sour fermented mush, you might be wondering how this is even possible. It would seem to upset stomachs based on smell alone.
The way this works is simple. Most chicken feed consists of grains that produce phytic acid when broken down. Phytic acid is ok in small quantities, but in larger amounts, it impairs mineral absorption.
Specifically, it lowers the amount of iron, calcium, and zinc enters the bloodstream. And we all know how important all of these nutrients are for producing healthy eggs. Fermented feed inhibits phytic acid so that your chickens absorb as much of these nutrients as they can.
Will fermenting chicken feed produce better eggs and health? The process of fermentation has large amounts of beneficial bacteria. Fermenting chicken feed is the best way to make your own natural probiotics. Probiotics help chickens with crop health and prevent impaction.
Not to mention probiotics are known to increase egg productivity. So if your hen is slowing down, give her a boost of fermented feed. Who doesn’t love more eggs?
Fermented chicken feed has the added benefit of boosting immunities as well. Since fermented food lowers the pH of the digestive tract, it reduces E. Coli and salmonella contamination. The natural probiotics in fermenting chicken feed also help boost immunities.
So your chickens will be healthier from the inside out with this natural trick. Your flock won’t get sick as often and heal faster from minor illnesses. Some people even feed this to hens that are sick to help them recover.
Fills Their Bellies
While this is not a health benefit, it is a benefit to your wallet. Fermented chicken food expands as it ferments. Expanded grains will fill your hens and keep them from eating as much. Not only does this save you money, but it keeps your hens full for longer.
Some studies even show that fermenting chicken feed keeps chickens warm in winter. The way this works is that a full belly helps your hens produce their own body heat in cold temperatures.
And finally, fermenting chicken feed produces the best eggs you have ever seen. As we mentioned before, fermentation helps your hens absorb more nutrients. The result of that is an increased egg weight and shell hardness and thickness.
How Do I Make Fermented Chicken Feed?
Will fermenting chicken feed produce better eggs and health? Yes! And you should start your fermenting food ASAP. But how do you do this? You will want to follow these directions carefully; otherwise, the food will spoil.
- Glass jar: Glass is best because it doesn’t harbor bacteria. It also helps if you use jars large enough for one daily serving. We will talk more about this later.
- Chicken feed– We will talk about types of food at the end of this article.
- Dechlorinated water– You can buy bottled water or leave a pitcher of water sitting out overnight for the chlorine to evaporate.
- Kitchen towel– Or other breathable fabric to let gasses escape.
- Rubber Band
Step One: Gather And Measure
Gather all your materials and measure out your feed. How much fermented feed per chicken should you make? That depends on the type of food you use. Most feed says to provide 1/4 cup a day per chicken. You want to feed your hens the recommended amount.
But since fermenting chicken feed expands, you need to measure daily servings before starting. Using jars with precisely a day’s serving helps you know how much to feed your hens. There is less waste this way, and you won’t have to worry about getting enough.
Step Two: Adding Water
Next, it’s time to add water to your jar and food. Using dechlorinated water is essential here. We have added chlorine to our water to prevent bacteria growth. But this is precisely what we want when fermenting chicken feed. Without bacteria growth, your feed won’t ferment at all or take longer to finish.
Using bottled water is an option. But a cheaper way to do this is setting out uncovered water overnight to let the chlorine naturally evaporate out. Once you have your dechlorinated water, pour the water over the feed. You want to have about an inch of extra water over the food.
Step Three: Cover It
Now it’s time to cover your fermenting chicken feed. Since fermenting food produces lots of gases and bubbles, you don’t want a tight lid. But you don’t want a top that allows mold spores to enter through.
Most people use a piece of high thread count cotton or even a dishtowel. These weaves are tight enough that mold won’t enter through. And they are loose enough that they release the gas and bubbles. Then secure the fabric with a rubber band.
Step Four: Let It Sit
Now just let it sit. Once a day, you should give it a good stir to ensure all the feed is fermenting. If you notice that the water is evaporating, you should add a little more. And that’s it. After about 3-4 days, you will have the best fermented chicken feed. It’s that easy.
When you are ready to use your feed, just strain the liquid. But keep that precious liquid to use as a starter for the next batch. Using a starter will speed up the process and could be done in as little as two days.
How Long Will The Fermented Chicken Feed Last?
Your feed should keep for three days. Or you can store it in the fridge to stop the fermenting process, and it can last up to five. You know that the food has gone bad when it has a strong mildewy smell. But don’t confuse this with the way it naturally smells. Fermented food smells sour and a little like vinegar. But that doesn’t mean that it has expired.
What Type Of Feed Works Best?
You can ferment any type of food. But some types hold up better under the process. Grains are some of the best because they hold their shape during expansion. Some of the best grains to ferment for chickens are wheat, corn, and oats. But using everyday layer feed is just as healthy.
Can you ferment chicken pellets? Yes, and you don’t have to change the process. The only downside is that the pellets turn to mush in the process. The same thing happens when fermenting chicken crumbles. Most chickens don’t mind this texture and even enjoy it as a fun change. But some chickens don’t like this, so start in smaller batches at first.
Can you ferment chick starter? Of course! Your chicks could benefit from all the probiotics and increased nutrients. Some studies even show that feeding chicks fermented feed speeds their growth rate. This is one reason why they recommend fermented feed for meat chickens. Give it a try and see what results you get.
You might have even heard of fermenting chicken feed with molasses. To do this, all you need is to add a small amount of blackstrap molasses to the water when fermenting. Only use a small amount in this process, though. Fermenting food with molasses will turn it slightly alcoholic. But the good bacteria eat the alcohol, making it safe for chickens.
As you can see, there is no end to what you can ferment. Play around with what your flock’s favorites are.
How Often Can You Feed It?
In our opinion, you can never feed too much. Some owners provide fermented chicken feed daily with no issues. Other people prefer to use it as a treat a couple of days a week. You can also use it as a rescue feed for sick or stressed hens. Either way is suitable and will still give your chickens excellent benefits.
Choosing to do it a few days a week makes it a little easier to keep up with. But if you want to feed it daily, start slow to let your chickens adjust. If you provide too much at first, you might see loose stools. But after a few feedings, your chickens will have a new favorite meal.
Will Fermenting Chicken Feed Produce Better Eggs And Health?
The evidence is clear. Your hens will be healthier, get sick less, and give you beautiful eggs with fermenting chicken feed. In three short days, you can start seeing these results.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!