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Fermenting Feed for free range/ tractor cornish x- for dummies, plz!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm hoping that those who have been feeding FF to meaties for a while now will post specifics of how they do it, so that all of us newbies will have it condensed a bit (as opposed to dredging through 1700 pages in the other thread... 😝). I have specified free range or tractor chickens, because I imagine that this would affect how to feed them quite a bit. I will be free ranging my chickens during the day as soon as they are old enough, but since many cannot/ choose not to do that, I wanted to include those using the tractor system as well.

-how many chicks at once
-What you feed fermented (protein %, store bought/ home made, standard/non gmo/organic) for chicks, growers, and finishing
-How much do you feed them? (I have seen HUGE variations in this... 12 on 12 off, to no more than 30 min a day... So confusing!!!)
-your set up- tractor/free range
-What you are averaging in cost per finished chicken

Thank you all for sharing your experiences with us, this forum has SOO helpful!! 👏👏👏
Edited by Amandakae - 4/14/16 at 8:17am
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Here is a quote from another thread from bee kissed on the HOW to ferment

I drilled small holes in a 5 gal. bucket and placed it down into another. Place the grain in the top bucket, cover the grain/feed with water and soak. I speeded up the fermentation process by introducing a little unpasteurized ACV with a good mother culture in it.

You don't have to do it in the sieve system I setup but it comes in handy to just lift your grain bucket up and let the excess fermented fluid drain off before you feed. Depending on the warmth of the place in which you are doing your fermenting, soaking 8-15 hours is supposed to give your grain time to ferment enough to produce the valuable probiotics you are looking for. They are just pulled from the air...unless you want to speed it up like I did.

I just keep the same fluid in the bottom bucket and just add fresh water when necessary to get the right level to cover my feed. They call that backslopping....keeps those strong cultures in your grain fermenting system. Think sourdough bread...same thing.

Fermenting your grains is supposed to increase your protein by 12%, increase the absorption of your feed nutrients, increase total nutrient value, increase bowel health, increase laying performance, help prevent disease~particularly the intestinal ones like cocci, salmonella, e.coli, lower total feed consumption and thus total feed costs but will cause more weight gain on the lesser amounts of feed.

I've been doing this with my new CX chicks(54) and we are on their 4 th day. Their poop now looks like normal chicken feces, they have consumed less feed than they normally have by now, seem more content on the feed they are eating, prefer the fermented over the dry and are growing well. All bright, active and gaining ground. I am also offering buttermilk free choice in one waterer and unpasteurized ACV in the water of the other waterer...they can't get enough of it but don't seem to have the excessive thirst the CX normally have. Could be because they are not dehydrated from the constant diarrhea typical of this breed.
Thank you beekissed!
post #3 of 5

I also use FF for my layers, but for meaties, here it goes:


--Cornish Cross, 25 to 30 birds


--For first 10 days:  Fermented Purina chick starter (non-medicated), available all the time.


--After 10 days:  Fermented Flock Raiser (which is 20% protein).  I feed them twice a day, all they can eat in 15 minutes.  Basically I give enough so that all the chickens have had their fill and start wandering away from the trough.  The actual amount varies and gets quite a bit larger as they grow.  I supplement that with a few cups of sprouted fodder and old garden produce which I throw into the yard away for their normal feeding area to encourage them to move. 


--Free range within the confines of a very large fenced area.  I live in an arid area, so there's not a lot of grass, but they do chase bugs, eat some weeds, and "forage" the produce I put in there.  


I should add that my preference is to let them grow out to 11 to 13 weeks before I start butchering, which isn't quite the norm.  To get them to that age, I take efforts to ensure a more slow and healthy growth rate.  By 11 weeks they are around 6 to 7 pounds and by week 13, some are up to 10 pounds dressed.   I think the flavor is excellent and I would rather butcher fewer, but larger, birds.   


Under my feeding regime they would be too small to butcher at 6 weeks.  By 8 weeks my guess is that they would be around 4 pounds dressed.  


Good luck with everything.  I really enjoy raising my meat birds.  If given enough space and quality food, they are healthy, friendly birds who engage in normal chicken behaviors.   

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your reply! One question though, how do you keep it available all the time? It seems like they eat all of the food I give them in about an hour. Does this mean that I am not feeding them enough? I'm feeding them three times a day. If I feed them more at once so it lasts longer I'm afraid it will go bad in the pan and tons of poo will get mixed in. They are four days old now. Also, do I need to give them some scratch?
post #5 of 5

When I was feeding all the time, I had a feeding container was large enough so that the chicks didn't go thru it, until I had a chance to re-fill it (which I did 2 or 3 times a day).  They did make a bit of a mess at times, so I would wash out the feeder before I re-filled it.  If they are just 4 days old, I would either get a bigger feeder, or just fill it one extra time.


They don't need scratch, that's basically just a chicken treat, that you can give a bit here or there just to make life more interesting for them.  


One thing to add, before you start giving them food other than basic chicken feed, set out a dish of "chick grit" which you should be able to buy at your local feed/tractor supply store.  They need the grit to properly digest fresh foods and other "treats."  

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