I've been playing around with how I feed as well. If you have let the mash cool down to 110 degrees F or lower I think the good bacteria will be fine. When I make yogurt, you heat the milk to 160, then lower to 110 before adding the culture so it doesn't die, so I think staying at or below 110 would be fine. I'm sure you probably wouldn't feed too hot anyhow, though with freezing temps it cools pretty fast too.
I have been fermenting feed that has fish meal and oyster shell in it and it gets really stinky, especially the longer I backslop and keep the ferment going. Lately, since I have been making yogurt at home, I have an abundance of whey and have been basically just soaking their feed overnight with whey and water. This way it makes it more digestible (breaking down the phytates/phytic acid) and begins to ferment from the kickstart of the whey but I don't get the awful stink in my house. Once we move there full time I may mix my own feed and then I can add the meal separate and not into the fermenting bucket. That way I can strain out the grains to feed - right now that takes too much time and I lose the added nutrition that was in the fine meal - and then add a scoop of fish meal or whatever mix I end up using.
Hope everyone is doing well during this busy time. We are battling water infiltration into our coop - so frustrating and I'm worried about the flock with all the moisture but we're band-aiding it until we can find a better solution.
Is the mash that you cook for them a prepared mash bought at the feed store? I recently bought mash instead of pellets, and it was $1 less/bag. That's a win/win situation for me. If you have a square foot of floor space, you have room for a 5 gallon bucket. That should easily make enough FF for your flock. I keep 2 buckets in my laundry room (3 gal each for my 27 birds). That allows me to feed out one bucket each day, while the other one gets an extra day of ferment. It seems that you could easily bypass the cooking, and go straight to fermenting. A bucket doesn't take up THAT much room!
@hellbender I find that my birds have nice firm poop when on FF. Not as stinky, either!
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.
Okay, maybe I am thinking this a bit differently. I have read different posts and I assumed you had to have 3 containers 1=start day, 2=ferment day, 3=ferment/feed day. I'm missing something because it sounds like you are using 1 or 2 buckets at most for your fermented feed?
The mash I make by mixing my own grains. I can't use pre-mixed because anything affordable has wheat/gluten in them. The mash which is mainly rice mixed with the normal feed mix I make, also has all scraps added and bone broth from the large number of bones given to me. I make the mash in the morning and feed it out late afternoon. It's mildly warm by time they get it. I use fish meal in the mash but I can put this in the fermenting feed if it will provide even more nutrition for the chickens.
I used to provide lots of whey and goat milk to the chickens because we have 2 dairy goats. They have been bred and are drying up is why I want to start fermenting.
Still my inside space where the fermenting seed will not freeze in the winter is limited. I have several trees in large containers taking up the floor space in my house. Yesterday I took to cleaning out a few paint cans from a utility closet. The closet stays colder then the rest of the house but I'm sure I can fit at least 2 buckets inside. I am concerned 2 buckets won't be enough because the temp runs about 65 in the closet and I think it will take the feed longer to ferment? A good chance I am over thinking this. I assume you feed fermented feed daily? Which is what I would like to do through the winter at least.
Am I over thinking this?
The chickens also free range all day doesn't matter if it is raining or not I open the doors and let them decide if they want to stay in or peck outside. I use ACV in water daily.