Hi potagergirl, have you tried using buckets to ferment? we got ours from the bakery of our local store for free and we have over 20 chickens. we have 2 buckets that we use very easily that we alternate. i wouldnt mix the ferment with the mash, not only for variety for the chickens but also not sure if the bacteria would remain okay.
hellbender, their poop is actually very well formed and the ferment takes the smell out of it, also flies stay away from our coop, even though we have them by our horses. the flies dont like the poop. its easier to feed since they dont get it all over the place and our day old chicks get started on it as well. its very easy to make. just make sure you dont use any metal. the vitamin content and absorption is also greater.
we also put a little kombucha tea in their water, as well as some vitamin c sometimes, or apple cider vinegar with the mother works well. the key to good health is a healthy functioning gut. conventional feed due to the glyphosate destroys the essential gut bacteria,so nutrients cant be absorbed, so we use only organic feed. fermenting and using the kombucha and vinegar helps keep their gut healthy, as well as ours. our goats and dogs love the fermented feed too and we give them some. our horses make funny faces when i give them some.
good luck with your water issues Jules chicks. hope you get it fixed real soon.