Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Fermenting feed for the girls!

In the Coop

When the girls were going through a molt last fall, I had read that fermented feed is great to give while chickens/ducks are molting.  We bought some gamebird feed.  It has 30% protein!  Our regular layer feed is about 17% protein.  Feathers are mostly protein so it is advised to increase protein intake when the poultry are molting.  There are several benefits of feeding fermented feed.  Fermented feed has tons of probiotics.  Fermentation makes the vitamins, minerals and proteins more bioavailable to the poultry.  In addition, fermented feed is easier to digest which is great during this stressful molting time. 

Any feed can be fermented!  All you have to do is put it in a bucket and cover it with water and let is sit for 3 days.  Easy peasy!  Since we feed about 23 pounds of feed a day, there is no way we could ferment all that feed.  I take about 5 pounds of feed and ferment that for the girls.  I end up adding about 15 pounds of water to get the finished fermented feed.  I also read that feeding fermented feed increases egg size, weight and shell thickness.  The fermented feed kind of reminds me of a porridge...
A study performed in Denmark in 2009 showed that laying hens fed fermented chicken feed not only performed better and required less feed, but they showed signs of increased intestinal health.  

Closer to home, I found a podcast talking about a study that was completed last year in northwest Washington.  They compared dry feed, fermented feed (fermented for 3 days), and hydrated feed (feed that had water added just before feeding).  Basically, the chickens ate a little bit less of the fermented feed AND the real eggciting news is that the egg lay rate went up 9%  for the fermented fed hens!  So, they ate a little bit less feed and laid more eggs!  Here is a video all about the study but I basically already told you about it...also, I found a Fact sheet about the study.
We probably will not be able to keep up the fermentation during the winter months.  It seems to me that the bacteria responsible for fermenting the feed will need a certain temperature to "work" and digest the feed to release the extra nutrients in the fermented feed.  We could try fermenting in the house but fermented feed really stinks!  I had also read that fermentation is really good in the summer when the birds will be getting water and feed at the same time when they eat.  Chickens need water to help produce eggs so any way of getting more water to them in an advantage.  We will start up the fodder production and use that during the winter months and ferment a little feed for summertime.  This is a great way to provide different foods and keep things interesting for the girls.

Here is a little video I made of the chickens eating the fermented feed out on pasture...
It took a couple weeks but the ducks seem to finally be taking advantage of the fermented feed...
So, bottom line is that fermented foods are good for us (see blog post from 4 weeks ago regarding radish fermentation) and good for the poultry!  Pickles or Sauerkraut anyone?

Have an eggcellent day!

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