Why Ferment Chicken Feed? (Poultry Feed Fermentation)
The Do’s and Don’ts of Poultry Feed Fermentation
Having looked at the huge benefits of chicken fermentation feed and before we head straight to how to practically ferment our chick feed, I’d love to spell out the precautions to be taken while using this method.
The Do’s Of Poultry Feed Fermentation
1. DO use a mix of grains, oats, seeds, legumes, crumble or pellets.
You can make your own poultry feed formulation, or use a commercially available brand.
2. DO use a loosely covered glass container (or BPA-free plastic or food-grade stoneware).
3. DO use de-chlorinated water – use either well water, purchased filtered water or let tap water sit out for 24 hours.
4. DO cover grains with several inches of water and add water as needed to ensure they remain covered.
5. DO stir several times a day.
6. DO wait until you see bubbles forming on the surface to feed (usually after about 3 days).
7. DO store in a dark, cool place, not outside and not in the sunlight.
8. DO feed fermented feed to chicks and ducklings as well. Be sure they have grit to help them digest the feed or limit them to fermented chick starter.
9. DO realize that your fermented feed will have a smell. That’s okay. It should smell sort of tangy-sweet, like sourdough bread.
10. DO keep the liquid after you’ve strained out your grains to start a new batch.
The Don’ts of Poultry Feed Fermentation
1. DON’T add any yeast or apple cider vinegar to your ferment. That will encourage the creation of alcohol which you don’t want.
2. DON’T store your fermented chicken feed in the sun.
3. DON’T allow the water level to drop below the level of the solids.
4. DON’T feed if you smell a sour, rancid or yeasty smell.
5. DON’T feed if you see any mold. Toss it all out and start over.
How Does Poultry Feed Fermentation Works?
Here are the basic steps of how this method aids your poultry farming feed formulation and procedures. Feed ingredients are soaked for good three (3) days (in my own experience) and below are the results of each day.
Day 2: Lactic acid bacteria begin the process of fermentation by consuming the sugars in the grains and multiplying in great numbers, producing lactic acid. The lactic acid, in turn, makes the environment unsuitable for bad bacteria, leaving behind only beneficial microbes.
As long as the grains stay submerged in their lactic acid “bath,” they will be preserved indefinitely (though there comes a point when the grains can become too sour and thus, not very tasty).
How To Ferment Chicken Feed
First, there are many fermentation processes that we have. We have alcohol fermentation procedures and lacto-fermentation procedures. But here, I am only going to discuss the lacto-fermentation procedures.
Things to note in Lacto-Fermentation:
— During lacto-fermentation, various Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) are used to digest the carbohydrates (sugars) and produce lactic acid. This lactic acid is what produces the “tangy” or “sour” flavor that is found in items such as yogurt, raw lacto-fermented pickles, raw lacto-fermented sauerkraut, etc.
— High concentrations of LABs are beneficial to the digestive tract and immune system and even produce additional nutritive value in the form of B Vitamins, Vitamin K2 and Enzymes (as discussed earlier).
The Required Steps Involves Feed Fermentation
In addition to things to note before you rush into the fermenting process- you might need to consider the number of chickens that you have as this will determine the type of buckets to use for the procedure. And since we’re discussing commercial poultry farming, plastic food grade buckets, ceramic containers or a bucket should do the trick. No matter what you’re using, make sure they have a lid!
Do not use metal containers as the high acid content of the fermented feed can sometimes interact with the metals and cause contamination of the feed (check above for Don’ts)
Next, you need to decide what ingredients you want to ferment. You can ferment pretty much any feed that you currently give your chickens- pellets, scratch, seeds, egg shells and whole grains are all great.
1. Fill your container about halfway way with your chosen feed ingredients- remember that the grains will expand, so be sure to leave enough room relative to the size of our container.
2. Then add enough de-chlorinated water to cover your grains by a couple of inches.
3. Stir the mixture at least once or twice a day, and add water as necessary to ensure that the water level stays above the feed. Make sure that you put the lid on properly each time after opening, and soon the magic will happen!
You soon should start to see bubbles form on the surface of your liquid, and it may emit a slightly sour smell- this is lacto-fermentation in action! The water may also appear a little cloudy and foamy- this is all very normal, and you can simply stir your mixture to get rid of it.
While Preparing poultry feed fermentation, Lacto-fermented feed should never have a rotten or unpleasant smell- this indicates an overgrowth of yeasts or moulds in the feed, and so it should be discarded of, and you will need to start the fermentation process again.
If your grains are always completely covered by water, and your container is always sealed properly, you shouldn’t have an issue, and the fermenting process should be a breeze!
Within three to five days your feed should be fully fermented. This will be made evident by the presence of small bubbles and the sour smell.
Feeding Your Chickens Fermented Feed
When feeding, scoop or spoon out an appropriate amount of feed for your flock. Scoop from the bottom of the ferment container to assure that you get a full mixture of all the items in the feed. You can press out some of the liquid, strain it in a strainer, or just put it into the feed pan as-is.
READ ALSO: The Importance Of Pawpaw in Poultry Farming
Do not remove all the feed and liquid from the container.
And also, give them what they can eat per day. You can always put more dry feed or feed ingredients back into the water (container) to produce more fermented feed.
That’s all about poultry feed fermentation method and I know you’ve gained much from this article,let us know what you think below using the comment section.