Fermented food and probiotics for good tummies

  1. TeenageRooster's Dad
    I've noticed the last year or so a big improvement in my hens health by supplementing with various fermented foods and probiotics. I hope this hasn't been covered to death but I've found easy and cheap ways to produce a good amount and make it sustainable, while keeping everyone happy.

    Fermented Cabbage
    Probably the easiest to start with. all you need is:
    • 2 large cabbage (green or red)
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 tbs of cardamom
    • 1/4 cup of salt (or less)
    1. Shred the cabbage, place in large bowl and "massage" while adding salt as you progress. I usually add the cabbage gradually and add salt until the cabbage has "sweated" enough to cover with liquid. - Do not add water! add the crushed Garlic and cardamon
    2. Place in a large container such as a large mason jar add a smaller container or glass on top of the cabbage to ensure it's as submerged as possible.
    3. Cover the container with a cheese cloth or other mode of aeration.
    4. I let it ferment for about 10 days, depending on temperature.

    Fermented Grain
    I've done a few batches with barley and it turned out really well. Also faster than cabbage. Here's a good article to get started: https://timbercreekfarmer.com/natural-probiotics-chickens/


    Fermented cucumbers
    My hens favorite for some reason.
    • 4 large English cucumbers or any kind really.
    • 2 tbs salt
    • Distilled water
    • 1 clove or garlic
    • Mustard seeds (optional)
    1. Cut cumbers in spears, short enough to fit in a large jar
    2. add garlic and muster seeds to water and boil for about 10-15 mins. this will be our brine
    3. In a seperate pot, place mason jar and tops in boiling water for about 20 mins. I also use brewing cleanser instead of boiling pot
    4. place cucumbers in jar, add cooled brine. Cover jar with cheese cloth
    5. Let ferment for a about 10 days

    Off the shelf probiotics
    They work great. especially for chicks 1-8 weeks. I usually keep to waterer, one regular water and one with probiotics and electrolytes. HEN BOOST is affordable and good quality.


    Low Fat Goat milk Greek Yogurt

    Another favorite. Goat milk is sort of a "universal donor" milk, often used to feed pretty much any mammals in distress. Seems to work great for chickens too. Just a little messy for darker hens :).

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    I usually rotate a few of these, 4-5 times a week and noticed great results poo wise. Much less big splatters. They also seem more energetic and I would say egg production went up, but hard to gauge.

    I've also notice it stopped egg picking, which is usually a sign of lack of protein and a really bad habit. The Yogurt really helps maintain good level of protein, just be careful about too much fat content but it has not been an issue for us.

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    TwoCrows likes this.

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  1. BReeder!
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 19, 2019 at 4:47 PM
    Good information and ideas. The links are helpful as well. Thanks for writing.


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  1. TwoCrows
    Probiotics do SO much for the health of not only the gut but the entire immune system, you can't go wrong feeding this great stuff to your flock!
  2. Meg-in-MT
    Hello! This is in interesting article. I've been feeding strictly fermented feed to one coop, of three, for two months. My chickens are looking a bit haggard.... Quite concerning as this is the only difference and only thing that's changed.

    Did you notice any oddities after you started? How long have you been feeding or supplementing fermented feeds?
    1. TeenageRooster's Dad
      I've been doing this round robin for about a year now, fermented feed the less, cabbage and vegetable the most often. TBH, feed can be tricky from what I've read. Also I wouldn't recommend feeding them strictly fermented. I think it's overkill.

      Also some types of grains, especially corn scratches can start producing alcohol really quick if your containers aren't sanitized properly.. It's not always obvious either, so that "could" be a reason they're a little bit haggard. I wouldn't bring them to AA yet but one way to neutralize the small amount of alcohol is to add apple cider vinegar to the fermented feed, which should be enough to neutralize the ethanol.
      Meg-in-MT likes this.
    2. Meg-in-MT
      I put their dry feeder back in a few days ago, and they're still eating some of the FF, but seem to be preferring the dry. Well, definitely eating more dry. Maybe it was FF overload...

      There is so much contradictory information out there, it's hard to know what's good/bad. I guess sometimes you've got to learn the hard way, but it's unfortunate when it's at your animals expense.

      I think I'll get rid of the batch I've got, because there is added corn in there. Perhaps that's my problem. I don't want the neighbors wondering why I've got stumbly/bumbly chickens, haha. Thank you!
      TeenageRooster's Dad likes this.

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