It’s been about 3 months since our sweet chickens have made their way to our house and we have enjoyed the benefits of having pets that make us breakfast. And something called lacto-fermentation helps us enjoy it even more.
If you’ve ever heard the word fermented before, you probably have in mind “sour kraut, yogurt, kimchi, wine, etc”. If you’ve been to my house and seen my
laboratory kitchen, you might have kombucha in mind.
Just like fermented foods are good for a human’s stomach and digestion, it is also good for a chicken’s; which, in turn, is once again good for us.
Fermented feed can increase intestinal health which helps fight things like E-coli and other nasty pathogens. It can also strengthen the egg shells and increase egg weight.
To summarize, fermented feed produces better eggs and healthier (therefore happier) chickens. For more info on the WHY, visit the African Journal of Biotechnology.
Now for the HOW
First, fill a glass or food grade container about a third of the way with your feed of choice. You’ll need to leave room for the grains to expand. I buy a basic layer feed from a local feed store, but if you want to be adventurous, The Elliott Homestead has a great recipe for a homemade organic feed that can really optimize fermentation.
Second, fill the container with filtered water until it sits 1-2 inches above feed. Water straight from the tap has levels of chlorine that will kill bacteria, including the good that you’re trying to create. If you need to use tap water, just let it sit on your counter over night before pouring.
Next, cover loosely with the lid and leave in room temperature for 2-3 days. Try to remember to stir the feed at least once a day and add water as needed to make sure the water stays at the recommended level.
When you start to see bubbling and a cloudiness, you know your fermentation is in progress!
You want your feed to have a sweet/sour smell. It will smell like a fruity yogurt. That’s lactic acid. If your feed smells rotted, dump your grains and start over. If it has a bit of a yeasty scent, add about 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to balance it back out.
You never want to see mold. This is another reason to dump the feed! Always make sure you have plenty of water to prevent this from happening.
After 2-3 days your feed should be ready. You’ll know by the strong sweet/sour smell. Scoop and drain and feed your chickens. They will love it!
You can reuse the fermented liquid but I haven’t reused it more than a couple times. I don’t want the feed to go bad.
This is still a supplementation to the worms and grit that chickens love so much. If you want beautiful nutrient dense eggs, you still want them to be getting fresh green grass and worms! Let your hens roam for treats!
To conclude things, I’d like to introduce a new member of the Donald family: T-Pain, Baby, Blackie, and many other names the boys have gone through since Christmas.
Disclaimer: Everything in this post is based off personal experience with my own chickens. Do your research and make sure you are comfortable with your own decisions!