No one? Okay...I'll start...
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 helpful...it is a lot of information through which to sift, but there are gold nuggets in that thar stream...
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. 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.
Edited by Beekissed - 3/30/12 at 10:24pm