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Fermenting Feed for Meat Birds

post #1 of 17645
Thread Starter 

In another thread, Beekissed mentioned fermenting whole grains and feeding it to broilers as an alternate way to get them to slaughter size.  It would be nice if Beekissed would expound on that here.  Following is part of a post that he put in that other thread:



Quote Beekissed:
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.


I'm very interested in this (and so is my wife) because we have discovered fermenting foods, and the nutritional value they have.  Now I hear that it can be done with chickens and I'm a little excited.

post #2 of 17645

Yes Bee, bow.gif


     We could all use a little of that WV wisdom of yours. I've been following your posts here and on SS with great interest. I've read all the research you have posted and found it very interesting. Is it possible to use too much fermented products? With the UP/ACV and fermenting feed, buttermilk/clabber etc. can one introduce too much acid to our birds?


     We want details, details, details.......gig.gif........,but really, any and all information you are willing to share, I'm sure that more than just myself would be very interested. I have chicks coming Tuesday or Wednesday and am a bit anxious as this is the first time I will be dealing with day-olds. I think I am ready, but ignorance brings doubt. 100 years from now I'll have the experience I need, but now.......idunno.gif


     Oh, and by looking at the pictures of your new coop, I would have been proud to have had you on my crew as I "hobbled" the custom homes I used to build. Nice work. We are our own worst critics you know.


     Keep up the great posts



Live to learn, Learn to Love.


Live to learn, Learn to Love.

post #3 of 17645

Thanks!  That means a lot!  big_smile.png  Shadowmane...I must apologize...I looked for your thread on this and didn't find it, so started one similar.  I'll post to both, though, because it won't hurt a thang!  tongue.png

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.  Proverbs 12:10

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.  Proverbs 12:10

post #4 of 17645

I'm going to move this info from the second thread over to this one....  smile.png


This will not be the first time I've fed fermented feeds to my chickens...just the first time I fermented their grain-based feeds.  In the past I've always kept unpasteurized ACV(with the mother intact) in their water and have also fed them fermented pumpkins in late winter/early spring.


This year, though, I happened to become curious about the health benefits of feeding them to the meaties in order to get more bang for my buck and also to keep them from having the smelly, diarrhea poops that are characteristic for these birds. 


Here are some of the articles I found that were is a lot of information through which to sift, but there are gold nuggets in that thar stream...  big_smile.png


Last but not least...ACV info~interesting stuff if you take it further and research the benefits of the bacteria therein:


Of course, I knew little of fermenting grains, so I just had to start it somewhere....and it turned out much easier than I suspected.  I haven't been doing it long enough and on enough birds to give good, solid results and I'm hoping to hear from others who can but I can tell you what I have seen thus far.


Anyone doing it? That would be me!


How long have you been doing it?  For some time but this is the first time doing it with the base feed ration of grains.


Your methods?  Right now I'm just using non-medicated chick starter for 54 meaties and one young WR roo.  My methods consist of two 5 gal. buckets sitting one within the other.  The top bucket has small holes drilled in the bottom and sides to form a sieve(this will come in handy later when I ferment whole grains and want to drain off the fermented water). 


Add chick starter, water, a glug or two of the UP/ACV for a starter culture and stir.  Wait until the next day and stir some more, try to keep the whole mix moist to promote the fermentation process.  You ought to smell a slight sour smell and see bubbles rising in the mash...when you smell and see this, you have active fermentation going on. 


If you don't have anything to jump start this mix, as long as you keep it at room temp and let the air into it, it should form it's own cultures within 24 hours and they will grow stronger the longer they are allowed to "cook" or "work"...think sourdough bread starter when you picture what it looks and smells like.


I don't empty the water off this mix and the water lying in the bottom of the bucket sieve system is holding all the strong cultured growth of good bacteria, so when I add water it mixes with it and rises up past the grain in the top bucket to saturate the whole mix.  This reusing the cultures from the old water is called back-slopping and it will make your fermentation quicker and stronger and also give you a heavier growth of good bacteria. 


I also give UP/ACV in all their water. 



Grains/feeds used in this manner?   Right now, the chick starter, but when it is done(#50 bag), I'll switch to cracked corn, barley and wheat grains.  I'll venture to say they will probably have to ferment a little longer then the fine starter crumbles. 


Your overall review of this method of feeding?  So far, I find it easy to do, a little messier than regular feeding when dealing with chicks and chick-height feeders but will soon be able to use it in feeders that can be elevated and not trampled in. 


I also am very pleased to see that my CX chicks have perfect little formed poops instead of their usual yellow, frothy, stinky squirts so typical of the breed.  Their brooder has no bad smells, the chicks are eating the feed well and are growing quickly.  They don't seem to need to drink as often as when they first arrived and I attribute this to two reasons:  1.  They are being fed moist feed.  2.  They are not dehydrated by having liquid~ and frequent~ poops. 


The WR roo was a gift and arrived a few days ago..he is probably 5 mo. old.  He seemed reluctant to eat the mix and acted like he was eating poop or something the first few times he ate it.  lol.png  Now he seems to have developed quite a taste for it and is cleaning his plate well!  His feces have improved in color, texture and odor also since he first arrived.


Only time will tell how this feeding method pans out but I'm willing to try it and see.  I am doing this to improve bird health and performance and to gain more feed efficacy, thus spending less money on feed costs. 



A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.  Proverbs 12:10

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.  Proverbs 12:10

post #5 of 17645
Thread Starter 

My wife has declared that we are going to try this on our DP pullets (and later, once we get some broilers, on them).  We're going to start with a small batch to make sure we know what we're doing, and don't waste too much of our precious 50# bag of starter.

post #6 of 17645

I will be giving this a try in the near future.  Thank you for providing a bit more info in your process BK.  Good reading material on the benefits of soaking/fermenting of grains on the overall health scale.

post #7 of 17645
Thread Starter 

My wife does a lot of fermenting foods with whey.  She stated that she didn't think we would go with the ACV in the feed, but mostly because we don't have any UP/ACV right now, and the budget is kind of tight.  I've been tempted to give them some raw milk too, but haven't done it yet.

post #8 of 17645


Originally Posted by shadowmane View Post

My wife does a lot of fermenting foods with whey. 


Can you expound on her process a bit?  There is a cheese maker close by and there may be potential source for whey.

post #9 of 17645
Thread Starter 

My wife recommends "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.  That's where she learned everything about fermenting.  She has all kinds of recipes on fermenting grains, fruits, vegetables and beverages.  However, new research has come out since her book was published that some of the methods in her book are not sufficient for breaking down phytic acid in grains.  I have seen her make home-made yogurt to get her whey.

post #10 of 17645

when i drain off the water from feed. the feed is wet. won't the feed carry disease if left to long. my set up is a pen and run. i have 12 cornish x . new to this meat bird thing.

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