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EM-1 (effective microorganism) & bokashi for chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by opihiman911, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. opihiman911

    opihiman911 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was wondering is anyone out there feed activated EM-1 (effective microorganism) bokashi to their chickens?
    I have used activated EM for several years as a ground spray to help breakdown the chicken manure and keep the smell down when it rains here. I also use it in my garden and in my composting bin and it really speeds up the process.
    I just read an article about feeding bokashi to livestalk feed at a rate of 5% of their feed. They were mainly talking about cattle, pig, sheep and goat though, but wondering why no mention of chickens?
    I did google search and all I could find was info about composting chicken manure using bokashi.
    Anyone use EM in their chicken feed? or any other use around garden yard?

    Aloha,
    Cory
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Opihiman911 - Not sure if you're still on BYC or not as it looks like your most recent post is from 2011. If so, I'd love to chat about EM and chickens. We're new to chickens (a couple months now) and I have been using EM for about 18 months now, mostly for human brews but now more recently with our chickens.

    When we first got our chickens (4 were already laying), I tried an experiment of offering them a choice between plain well water and EM water (1:1000). They always finished off the EM water before drinking the plain.

    I've also begun fermenting some of their feed, bokashi style. I don't really measure anymore, just a little bit of diluted EM mixed with the feed to make it "damp sponge wet". I then ferment it for about 5-7 before giving them any, and boy, do they love it!

    We are trying the DLM and right now, they free range most of the day, so there isn't a whole lot of poop built up yet. But there is dust. I sprayed EM about 1:256 on each layer of the deep litter when starting out. I also spray the whole coop and run about once a week with the same ratio. So far, so good. If nothing else, it makes me feel better than the EM is working to keep a healthy bacterial community.

    If you're still here, what are you doing with EM with your chickens?

    pd
     
  3. lwiese58

    lwiese58 Out Of The Brooder

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    Pdirt, I'm interested in the EM with chickens as well. Have you learned any more about it? I just ran across an interesting article on it but it wasn't really enough information for me to feel comfortable starting. Try this link and let me know if it's at all helpful to you.

    www.emro-asia.com/data/117.pdf

    It was written by a Mr. Miyagi in Okinawa who at the time of his writing had been using it for 15 years on 8000 chickens. So far I've been unsuccessful at uncovering any more info.

    Thanks!
     
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    UPDATED: I made some minor corrections and added a few more details so it makes more sense. Note to self, don't write such long messages before bedtime!

    2nd Update: More details added about storing AEM.

    Mind you the farm in the PDF you linked to has a lot of chickens (at least compared to us "backyarders"!). EM is very inexpensive, but still, any farm will want to keep costs at a minimum. At first I measured everything quite religiously, now I just use as much EM as seems fitting, meaning I use quite a bit more EM than the 1:4000-5000 ratios they are using.

    There are a couple blogs out there, IIRC, that talk briefly about using EM with chickens, sorry I don't remember them off the top of my head.

    I guess, what's your interest in EM in regards to chickens? I mean, what do you hope to gain (or get rid of) by using it?

    I'll tell you why and how I use it. It's a bit of a science project, but I enjoy that part. Read this message several times to let a lot of info digest and I use it with our chickens 3 ways (we have 13 birds):

    1. Spray down their litter and coop 1-2x/month with diluted AEM (activated EM, see below) about 4 tbs/gal on the Gilmour hose sprayer. Really helps with smells and will help compost their litter faster. We use a deep litter method and the coop has very little smell right now and it's been about a month since I sprayed AEM in there. I will spray once more before it gets much colder here and then focus more on their EM-fermented feed.

    2. I give them two waterers (so they have a choice), one plain water and the other with AEM, about 1:80 (8 tbs (4oz) AEM in about 2.5 gal water). I worked them up to this amount, I started with about 1:1500 (1.25 tsp in 2.5 gal water), then doubled that amount each time I refreshed their water supply. This will help, in addition to the EM feed (below), to not only keep the chickens healthier, but also contribute to healthier composting litter (above). I do this instead of using apple cider vinegar in the water. Both EM/AEM and ACV will have similar effects on the water and the chickens (both being mild acids), but the EM stuff has many more benefits, from probiotics to more and more varieties of antioxidants.

    3. I ferment some of their feed with AEM (aka bokashi), currently only a 1/2 gallon at time and feed it to them as a treat. The benefits are similar to the regular method of fermenting feed (just water and feed), but the EM will help the nutritional content of the feed much more. It's also not as messy as the water-y buckets of FF, but it's a batch-at-a-time method vs. a continuous fermenter setup. I need to step it up to a gallon or more here soon, they love this stuff!

    To make the bokashi feed, I take a large bowl and fill it with feed (or the chaff is also excellent) that will fill about 8/10's of the 1/2 gal container. In the now empty 1/2 gallon container fill it about 1/3 full of chlorine-free water and pour in about 1/4 cup of AEM and maybe an equal amount of molasses (blackstrap is best) if your AEM has/was fermented for more than 3 weeks. Mix the AEM and molasses thoroughly (100-120F water helps) and pour this over the feed, mix together well with your hands. You want most of the liquid absorbed by the feed, but it should be thoroughly wet, like a sponge that is partially wrung out. There should still be some liquid in the bowl (this will be absorbed by the feed as time goes on), if not, add some more warm water. Stuff this back into the 1/2 gallon container and pack it down, pushing out as much air as possible. You want the container to be full, with 1-2" of headspace. It won't be under liquid like the regular method of fermenting feed or making pickles or sauerkraut, it will be moist. Place a plastic bag or two layers of plastic wrap over the opening and secure with a rubber band. If it's a plastic container, skip the plastic bag and just screw the lid on tight. Check after a day or two (and keep checking every couple days) and release any gases that may or may not form by lifting an edge of the plastic bag or unscrewing the lid. Otherwise, keep it tightly covered to keep air out. Keep it indoors, or somewhere where it is 70-100F. It will be ready in about 2 weeks, but longer is even better. It will smell slightly pickled and there may be white fuzz growing on top, this is beneficial yeast. If there's a different color of fuzz, it may be mold and you should be able to just scrape the moldly parts off. You can also check the pH, if you have test paper, it should be below 3.9. It will get even better if you ferment it for even longer than 2 weeks, but 2 weeks is what I've been doing lately. I usually feed a cup or so, ever other day or so to our 13 birds. If you start another container when the first one is ready, you'll have a more or less continuous supply of bokashi feed They love it and gobble it all down.

    AEM, "Activated EM": You can take a quart of EM culture and "activate" it into 5 gallons of usable product, if you wanted to do the whole quart at once. You don't need to do this, but it will make it far more cost effective to use EM if you do. I usually do 1/2 gallon at a time. You will want to use the AEM within 30 days of making it, unless you add the optional ingredients listed below and ferment it for 9 weeks and then store it anaerobically. Teraganix's website has a recipe on on how to make AEM (the basic recipe), sometimes it's called "EM extension". You basically are giving the microbes food to multiply, thus making the purchased culture last longer.

    The basic recipe looks something like this, to make 1 gallon of AEM:

    3/4 c. EM mother culture (such as EM-1 or SCD Probio Original or Plus)
    3/4 c. blackstrap molasses (if feed grade, be 100% sure no preservatives)
    1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt (such as Celtic or RealSalt)
    Fill your gallon container (an empty tough plastic spring water bottle such as the Crystal Geyser brand comes in will work well) about 1/2 full of warm water (115-130F). Add molasses and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the sea salt and EM and stir thoroughly. Fill the container with the warm water so that you have 2-3" of headspace. Screw the cap on and either check on the ferment every day and release gases by unscrewing the cap or prick a hole in the cap with a pin. Place the container someplace warm, 90-105F is ideal, 95-100F even better. I use a cooler with a 25W bulb as a heat source and keep a thermometer inside and monitor it regularly until I figure out how much the lid needs to propped open to keep the best temp. The pH should drop to 3.5 or less within 7 days (usually within 3-4), use pH test paper to check. Stir or shake the container every day. It will be ready to use within 2 weeks, but will be even better and more robust if you wait a total of 4-6 weeks. For a recipe this simple 2-4 weeks would be fine.

    If you want to improve your AEM to be even better (stronger, more antioxidants, more nutrients, more robust microorganisms), you can add any or all of the following extra ingredients (some are hard to find): 2 oz additional EM mother culture or AEM from a good batch, 2 tbs Azomite rock powder, 1/8 tsp EM ceramic powder (Super Cera C), 1 tbs kelp granules or powder, 1 tsp of fish emulsion or shrimp paste, 1 tsp soy flour, 1mg molybdenum. For best results with these additional ingredients ferment at heat for 9 weeks, but it can be used at as soon as 2 weeks, if necessary. Make sure pH is below 3.7, but it will likely be below 3.5.

    I'll tell you what, I think that (I have no way to prove this other than my 5-senses observations) the 9-week AEM is possibly even better than the straight mother culture. It is thicker, darker red and smells/looks very alive. The red-purple color is an indication of the presence of the special purple non-sulfur bacteria, which are the ones primarily responsible for making the antioxidants.

    It used to be thought that AEM needed to be used up within 30 days of first use, but if stored properly and especially if you make it more robust with the additional ingredients and longer ferment time, it could last for much longer. The pH will probably get down to 3.0-3.4, if it starts to rise above the lowest level it reached, you will want to use the remainder up very quickly, within a week or so. Don't use it if the pH gets above 3.9, feed it to your septic or sewer system down the drain. To store AEM properly, keep oxygen out, store it in a plastic bottle with a tight lid, out of direct light at room temp. If the plastic bottle bulges (check every week or so), just loosen the cap to release the gases. I've had AEM stored this way last for several months and others have gone bad after only a few months. I'm not really sure why. I don't usually make more than a quart or 1/2 gallon of AEM at a time. As you use up the AEM, squeeze the plastic bottle to push out as much air as possible before tightening the cap.

    As far as purchasing the mother culture, I've found the site http://www.emearth.com/ has the best variety of products (including the Super Cera EM ceramic powder) and best shipping for my area (prices of products are pretty much the same from different sites). EM-1, SCD Probio Original or SCD Probio Plus is what you want. I usually use the SCD Plus, but lately I've been using EM-1 and it seems just as good. The pH test paper can be bought there as well, I use the 2.9-5.2 range one. SCD also has a product called "Bio-Ag" (buy it direct from SCD) which is designed to be used as-is and can not be turned into AEM, which is a very simple way to go, but will be more expensive in the long run. I haven't used it, so I can't comment further. SCD's site is http://www.scdprobiotics.com/

    I can't imagine not using EM with chickens. It's just so good for them (and us) and with a little work, very easy and inexpensive to use. One guy I know buys cheap crappy chicken feed and claims that after his 4-month AEM fermentation of the feed, it's better than dry organic feed. I'd love to see test results of that. The chickens also get more nutrition from the food and in theory, eat less. I haven't noticed this result yet, but we are also very new to chickens and I probably don't feed them enough of the bokashi feed. EM is known for "eating" toxic substances such as pesticides and radiation, so there may be some truth in this.

    Someday I'll make a blog about EM and chickens. There's also Youtube videos out there on how to make AEM, as well as about EM in general.

    It's a bit of a science project, but I enjoy that part. Read this message several times to let a lot of info digest and then ask questions if you have them.

    Have fun!
    pd
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. lwiese58

    lwiese58 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow! You certainly went over and above in your reply and I appreciate it a LOT! Like you suggested, I'll read it all over a number of times and get back to you.

    Thank you!
    Lila
     
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lila -

    I forgot to say more about molasses. The minds behind EM have found that the best main food source for making Activated EM (AEM) is blackstrap molasses, with NO preservatives. Blackstrap is higher in minerals and antioxidants than lesser grades of molasses, which results in a more robust ferment. If you can't find blackstrap molasses, regular molasses will work, but the blackstrap is far superior. If you buy human-grade blackstrap, you should have no problems with finding any preservatives (it's been pasteurized). However, if you use feed-grade blackstrap, don't trust the label as ingredients are not as rigorously labeled in feed-grade products. If you do use feed-grade, call the supplier, the producer/mfr, etc, until you find someone you trust who can tell you for sure. Tell them you want to be using it to ferment a lactic-acid brew and are concerned about any preservatives or mold-inhibitors in their molasses that could inhibit microbial growth.

    If you DO find such a source of feed-grade molasses, treasure it like gold! It's hard to find and the wild yeasts and bacteria naturally present in preservative-free unpasteurized molasses will help make your AEM even better. If you can't find it, don't worry and just use store bought human blackstrap molasses, it will work very well.

    pd
     
  7. Aesadai

    Aesadai New Egg

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  8. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was going to edit my previous very long post, but it looks like you can't do that after a certain period of time. Some updates to what I've been doing/learned:

    After reading some studies than have been done fermenting chicken feed, they used a pH of 4.5 for the fermented feed aka "bokashi". So I don't worry about it so much anymore and my EM-fermented feed has been between 3.8 and 4.5 pH.

    I've also stepped up to fermenting more of their feed. For our 12 birds (we lost one in November), this is what I do, while also offering them free-choice dry feed:

    I have 3 buckets I rotate and may or may not have them all full and fermenting at the same time. I find two 4 gallon buckets to be a good minimum.

    I fill one bucket about 8/10's full of feed. The other same-size bucket I fill about 4/10's full of warm water (100-120F). I mix in about 1/2 cup of molasses, stir to dissolve it well, then a 1/2 cup of EM or 3/4 cup of AEM and stir well. Then I dump this liquid slowly over the bucket of feed. I use either a long stainless spoon or my hands to thoroughly mix the feed and liquid. Then I place a small plastic bag on top of the wet feed and snap the lid on the bucket as tight as possible. I let it sit in my furnace room, next to the hot water heater for at least a week. I've been feeding about 6-8 cups of this stuff to the birds once in the morning and let them free-feed on the dry feed the rest of the day. At night, I block access to their dry feed so when I go out in the morning to feed them the bokashi feed, they haven't already stuffed their crops full of dry feed.

    They seem to like it and I notice a definite difference in their droppings under their roost. Much more formed, not gooey and less stinky. I am supposing there are plenty of other benefits more difficult to discern, but these are things I notice so far.

    I am also experimenting with how acidic of fermented feed I should be giving to the birds. I don't know it's a good idea to feed a 50%+ diet of rather acidic feed (under 3.8 pH) for weeks on end. I am certainly not putting anything acidic in their drinking water right now. I am thinking that fermenting the feed for only a week is plenty time.
     
  9. ParadiseHens

    ParadiseHens Out Of The Brooder

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    I am interested in IMO's in chicken coops. I'm wondering about sprinkling Bokashi in the dirt of the coop?
     
  10. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think IMO's (Indigenous Micro Organisms) are fascinating. I haven't really tried them yet. I did make I think what is called IMO-1 and/or IMO-2, which is the rice wash mixed with milk turned lactic acid bacteria brew and stabilized with molasses. It sat it in the fridge and I never used it, just tossed it. I think the lactic acid brew (IMO-1?) would be great to spray down the litter and roosts in the chicken coop. I have so many ferments going on already and it's just easier for me to use the commercial EM (which I activate to reduce costs). I imagine you could use IMO's to make bokashi, though again, I've not tried it. Perhaps Brian at ProKashi (.com I think) knows, since he sells bokashi and also has several IMO videos on youtube.
     

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