Chick starter turned dark brown

DonyaQuick

Songster
Jun 22, 2021
124
324
116
Upstate NY (Otsego county), USA
A couple days ago I noticed my chickens were uninterested in their crumble feed, which was weird. Later the same day I was scooping up the last of a 50lb bag that was getting down to just dust and then saw that some of the dust in the bottom had suddenly turned a weird dark brown - it was never that color before. There's been no moisture or anything getting into that bag and its been indoors the whole time. Something was obviously wrong with that bag so I've already dumped what was left in from feeder and washed it, and I will be dumping the remainder of the bag soon (will try to get a pic of it first). The chickens are much more enthusiastic about feed from a new bag.

The brown stuff doesn't look like mold to me; it's not fluffy or anything, just the feed changing color while dry. The stuff I dumped from the feeder looked normal but had a weird, faint sweet smell that I don't detect from fresh feed. I'm wondering if this happened because I went through the bag too slowly and if it just started decaying on its own; it takes at least 2 months to use one up and I'd been storing it in the house with the top of the bag rolled down and clipped. I only have 6 chickens; they don't go through big feed bags very fast since they eat a lot of other stuff these days in addition to pellet/crumbles. The smaller 10lb bags are more expensive per volume but I don't want to poison my birds by accident if the feed is spoiling. Should I just buy smaller bags more frequently, or would getting a big feed bin with an airtight seal store the larger bags' contents safely for a 2-3 months?
 

DonyaQuick

Songster
Jun 22, 2021
124
324
116
Upstate NY (Otsego county), USA
This is what it looked like. Been reading that fermented feed often smells sweet, but that takes water. Maybe moisture got in there somehow at some point and it dried again by the time I found it? I have no idea. Still haven't put the bag in the trash bin outside yet so should probably try to see if there's a date on it somewhere to see how old it is.
 

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DonyaQuick

Songster
Jun 22, 2021
124
324
116
Upstate NY (Otsego county), USA
So the bag of feed I had has been discarded for some time now, and its tag showed it wasn't old when I got it - I forgot to post an update about that. Anyway, I learned something else interesting: my house actually DID have a moisture problem. I just didn't know about it until last week.

The water line to my fridge's ice maker had a very slow leak of just a little drop here and there. It's probably been going for months. One day I just saw a bit of mold creeping up from a gap between floorboards and wall on the other side of the wall from where the fridge is. Pulled the fridge out and yuck - damp walls, damp floor, damp everything. It's all dried out and cleaned up now, but the feed bag maybe 10ft away from where the mold on the floor & wall first surfaced. Moisture was obviously spreading via the floor so maybe just a little bit got over to the bag. There was never enough water leakage to create standing water or a really soggy floor, but perhaps it only needed a little bit of extra moisture to start fermenting and/or growing nasties in the very bottom of the bag where it was in contact with the floor.

If I'm right about the fridge leak being the culprit, then it also explains why my 10lb plastic zip-top bags of feed and stuff were fine the whole time - not really to do with how fast it was used but because the small bags are waterproof on the bottom and moisture resistant when closed. For now I'm good with the 10lb bags while my chickens are going roughly half & half on layer & chick starter, but if I need to step up to big bags again I guess I need a plastic feed tub that seals well.
 

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