FERMENTED FEEDS...anyone using them?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Beekissed, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Quote: Actually, though they may help with digestion, the proteins and sugars will remain the same and will still be under utilized and undigested in their current state...so it yields little to add it to the feed to improve the performance of the feed itself, as it simply will not do so.

    My coop is that far from my house as well, so I store my feed in a trash can by the coop and carry water to the coop and keep the FF in the coop for most of the year. Last year I kept it in the house and just carried ice cream buckets of dry feed to the house to replenish the mix and then carried an ice cream bucket back to the coop each morning to feed. This year I'll be plugging in a heated bucket for the coop and keep the FF there. I have extension cords run from the house to the coop for electricity there. Currently we have temps into the 30s here and in the 60s and 70s in the day, but the feed is still fermenting well in the coop at present.

    I'm not sure what you are doing with the FF to turn them off it, but most report their chickens are mobbing them for the FF...as are mine. There has never been a time they aren't excited about the FF and WAY more excited than they ever got for dry feeds.
     
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  2. naadarien

    naadarien Chirping

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    I'm not doing anything to it. It was a lovely fermentation. I was very happy with the results. It smelled right, looked great, and, until I moved to the coop, no molds or oddities at all. I used glass (2, 2.5 gallon containers) as that was my preference and it allowed me to see the condition of the ferment at all times. Nothing gets missed that way.

    Not sure what their issue is, but they just seem to prefer the dry feed to wet feed. Even when I add the kefir, they want the mix to be more dry than wet. I have made the mistake of making it too wet and they totally ignore the food. Again, I have to give them nothing else to get them to eat it. It is fine. I have cats who hate the fish flavors of cat food and will only eat the chicken flavors (and they won't even touch raw no matter what I do so forget that idea). I suspect animals can be just as picky as humans. :)

    It will be 30's and 20's here during the day until next May. That is way below the right temps to maintain a ferment. I have electricity in the coop, but we don't heat the coop. We acclimate our birds naturally and only use heat lamps if it gets seriously cold (which hasn't been the case for the last 5 yrs; Only the brooder is meant to be warm for any given length of time and I am not putting the ferment in there). Nothing about it will be stable and above 50 degrees (let alone 60) for about half the year. We are currently building a shed next to the coop to store supplies and tools, but it won't be heated either.

    The birds are quite healthy and doing great (all excrement, weight, feathers are normal and then some). Whatever the kefir may or may not be doing, as long as they continue to perform at this level, I'm good.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  3. rawheid

    rawheid In the Brooder

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    The lady I bought my birds from feed dry feed and then gave kefir. I know nothing about kefir. My concern with ff is also having to store in the house and haul To the coop. We are almost to freezing temps. And if I leave it I'm the shed it will be one frozen chunk. Does kefir give the same results? Where do u get kefir?
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    No, kefir will not give the same results. Fermenting the grains changes the proteins and sugars into a different type of protein and sugar, ones that can actually be absorbed and utilized by the chicken. Kefir can add some probiotics to their diet but it cannot convert the grains in the feed to this type of super food. With fermentation, it can actually increase the usability of your proteins by 12%, instead of those nutrients passing through the intestines and being expelled onto the coop floor, there to rot and stink. It's like pouring money on the coop floor and having to smell the stink of the loss of it. Calculations by those feeding FF shows they are cutting their feed bill nearly in half by fermenting their existing feeds...kefir cannot accomplish that for you.

    "Hauling" the feed to the coop is as simple as scooping it from a large bucket into a smaller bucket and walking to your coop, which you would have to do each day anyway. Unless you have a very large flock that will be using the whole 5 gal. bucket of feed each day, I can't see this as being labor intensive. If you do have a large flock, some people are fermenting in a big ol' trash can and have not had any major freezing in the FF, while still getting good ferment because the feed is sitting for a long time in a large batch, giving it time to grow a good ferment.

    There is also the use of heated stock buckets that can be kept right in the coop and keep the FF warm. I'm already in freezing temps here and the FF is still in the coop, but not yet heated.
     
  5. naadarien

    naadarien Chirping

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    FF and Kefir are both products of lacto-fermentation. The former is created with grains, the latter with milk. You create FF by creating a lactic acid culture within the feed itself. Kefir is created via a lactic acid culture in the milk. I happen to add the latter to my feed. Now I could most certainly allow the kefir to sit in the feed for a day or two and allow the kefir's lactic acid to ferment the feed, but I choose not to do that. That would create the same problem I already have. It would however be inaccurate to say that the kefir doesn't breakdown any of the feed. That simply wouldn't be true. The lactobacillus in the kefir would continue to eat the protein and sugars in the feed until it starved, and it would within a few days or so because the organic structure of the feed isn't close to optimal for kefir growth, but by then the feed would have been eaten.

    Kefir provides vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, D, K2, Folic acid, nicotinic acid, calcium, iron, and iodine to anyone's diet. I would not suggest that it is not nutritious. It most certainly is.

    I make my own kefir using raw milk from grass-fed cows. I buy that milk directly from the farm of an acquaintance who lives near me. I bought organic kefir grains from Amazon.com. You can buy kefir in the store, but it is more expensive, and it is generally a very mild culture. Most people don't like the super sour flavor of a thick, kefir culture, but the animals love it. So I make my own and I let it over-culture on purpose. :)

    The real distinction here in this discussion is that fermenting the feed itself will breakdown the feed itself. You will not get a complete breakdown of all or most proteins and sugars in the grains simply by adding kefir (and FTR, I made no such claims anyway). You will get, however, plenty of added nutrition. It is not unlike adding herbs or garlic or any other natural ingredients (veggies, seeds, eggs, yogurt, meat, etc) to your animal's foods to boost nutrition.

    I am not trying to say that no one should FF. It is absolutely a good and proper way to feed any animal (even the human animal), but it is not the only way nor is it the only optimal way. If it works for you and your chicks love it in any proportion, have it at. I'm not criticizing FF. I am merely saying that I have suspended feeding traditional FF for now until I can resolve issues that, for me, are important to deal with and in the meantime will use an additive (like any of the others listed above) that can replace some, if not all, of what I was giving before. That is my choice and I take it gladly. :)

    In regards to temperature, mileage will vary, but generally speaking, fermentation is optimal at room temperature. Google lacto-fermentation. Documentation on that is easy enough to find. Fermentation does create lots of heat so you can still get a fermentation going at lower temps, it just takes longer for the cycle to complete. Most sources though say if the temps drop below 40, lacto-fermentation hits stasis, that is why temps below 40 F are good for storing ferments (rather than creating them). You purposely put a ferment at that temp to make it last so storing it outside in cool temps after it has fermented would be fine. You should have a good product for at least a couple of months. There is generally a diminishing return if the temp is so cold that it takes days to ferment newly added feed so you either have to maintain a large enough "vat" of the ferment whereby you could put newly added feed into the center of it (presumably the warmest part) so it can ferment or, in a cold climate like mine, you'd have to have a place of relative warmth (preferably above 60 degrees) where your feed can more quickly set up. Again, mileage may vary. Maybe someone has a nice sunny spot or a cozy place near some other external heat source that would empart just enough heat to not stop the ferment process. Any variety of variables could make one person's situation work while another's fails. Just keep at it until you find what works for you.

    My preference is to make small batches. Nothing more than what a 5 gallon (or in my case, 2 2.5 gallon containers) container can hold. As I said before, I like seeing my ferment. Air pockets and unmixed feed can lead to mold or alcohol fermentation (which is not what you want if you are lacto-fermenting) and destroy your ferment so I just prefer glass so I can see everything. Acidic things should not be stored in metal unless it is stainless steel. The acid is corrosive to most other metals. There is debate about plastic and really your choice on using it or not depends on what you believe happens to the plastic when it comes into contact with the acid. Most of what I read says it is stable, but again I prefer the see-through quality of glass so it wins out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  6. LauriTX

    LauriTX In the Brooder

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    I use two old frisbees that I got at a race for the cure one year for my FF. I keep one by the container of FF and just fill it up and then change out frisbees. Easy as pie! :)
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    You must not have very many chickens.... [​IMG] A frisbee would be tossed to kingdom come by my crew..trampled on, flipped over, tipped and scratch upon. The trough they use looks like someone shot it with a shotgun it has so many dents and dings from their eating fervor.
     
  8. LauriTX

    LauriTX In the Brooder

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    No, only 3 right now. I started out with 5 but lost 2 (1 to my foster dog - a standard dachshund - and one was sick...not sure what was wrong with her!) Will wait until spring to get some more, I don't really want to try to raise babies in the winter time, even though it doesn't get terribly cold in Texas.
     
  9. naadarien

    naadarien Chirping

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    That is hilarious!

    Yeah same here. The frisbee would be turned over and buried underneath litter in some odd corner of the coop (as has happened previously with other saucers).
     
  10. RoseMarie1

    RoseMarie1 Songster

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    oh mine to and I could just see it flying through the air. In fact I have a large bowl you serve chips and dip out of that I found at the thrift store. They will flip it over and it's always upside down when I go to refill it. I have 17 though and they always act like they haven't eaten in days! lol
     

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