Fermenting feed for layers?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Malibu99, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Malibu99

    Malibu99 Crowing

    Apr 23, 2012
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Hi there,

    I was wondering if you can ferment feed for laying hens and what are the benefits? How do you ferment feed? Will it help them through the winter? And we also have a few non-layers (hatched too late, probably will lay in spring)... can they eat fermented layer feed too? Or should I do some grower (I have tons of that left over)?

  2. Tivona

    Tivona Songster

    Jun 2, 2011
    There is a long thread on fermenting feed over in the meat forum section. It covers laying birds as well as meat birds and also how to do the ferment. You can search the thread for laying by going to the "Search this thread" button just under the title if you just want the info on layers. You will miss a bunch of helpful stuff though unless you read the rest too.

    Basically to ferment you take a bit of the dry feed you would normally feed to your birds, put it in a bucket and cover it with water. Add some raw ACV (apple cider vinegar). They say a few glugs in a bucket. I used about a coffee mugs amount and it worked for me. The ACV must be the type with the mother in it. Be aware that the feed will swell a lot! Only add enough feed for one or 2 days and cover with the water and add the ACV. Then just keep adding water as it swells till it stays just covered is my recommendation. Leave the bucket/container lightly covered but not sealed. This stuff has to breathe so you don't want to have the lid on tight. In a few days it should start to bubble a little bit. At that time you can drain out what feed your birds need (Save the liquid for the next batch!) and feed the mash to the birds. Take the saved liquid and add more dry feed and and add more water as necessary to cover the feed again. Just keep doing that each day always saving and reusing the liquid. The ACV has good bacteria in it and it gets the ferment going. Once the stuff starts working your liquid has all those good bacteria in it and that is why you always need to reuse the liquid. Think of it like live culture yogurt for birds. Except instead of it being actual yogurt it is their normal feed with the live cultures in it.

    I have laying ducks and am having some good results from feeding the fermented feed. I ferment the same feed I would be feeding if I didn't ferment it so the feed is still balanced for them. Some of the benefits are better digestion, way less stinky poop, and needing less feed (in dry weight). This is because they can digest it better, so they get more benefit out of less feed. Do keep in mind that they will be eating a lot of this because the dry feed swells up a bunch so the volume is great but the amount of dry feed your having to buy is less. Another benefit that some are mentioning is bigger yolk size. Not sure about that myself as my ducks have always had large yolks but it may be more noticeable in chicken eggs.

    As far as feeding it through the winter the only thing I can think of is make sure it doesn't freeze. I have not done this for that long so this will be my first winter with it. Some in the thread over in the meat birds section are talking about how they plan on doing it for winter now. And the grower for the non-laying birds would be fine I would think. I ferment layers pellets and in another container I ferment waterfowl (for my the ducks) pellets. Some do whole grains. Just use what you think is the right feed for your birds in the ferment.

    Hope some of this helps!
    5 people like this.
  3. DaniellePage

    DaniellePage In the Brooder

    2 people like this.
  4. Ullie

    Ullie Chirping

    Aug 8, 2012
    Ontario, Canada
    My Coop
    I agree it is very exhausting & time consuming trying to read through the topic on Fermenting Feed to find out 'how to' and what kind of grains to use.

    There is a member from this page that has a blog on Fermenting feed.


    I would also be interested in knowing what type of grains are easier for a beginner.
    1 person likes this.

  5. Oakieridge

    Oakieridge Songster

    Jan 25, 2012
    Lincoln Co., OK
    Okay I consider myself a beginner on fermenting because we have only done it for August and Sept and part of Oct this year. We started with reclaimed oats and put them in a huge trashcan (about 20#s) We filled the trashcan with enough water to cover the oats and then about 3" above that. We also added brown sugar to help the fermenting. I didn't have any ACV so the brown sugar worked well enough. The next day we checked it and found it bubbling so just added water and stirred it once in the morning and once in the evening. The next day we had lots of activitiy going on it that trash can. We once again just stired and waited adding water when needed. The 3rd day we fed this out to the birds (we have aprox 200). They were unsure of it at first but once they got to eating it they acted like layer pellets were poison lol. When I quit fermenting they wouldn't eat pellets for 3 days they just had to be hungry enough I guess lol. We switched from fermented oats to rolled oats from the feed store and they loved those even more. We always kept the water off the last batch to start the next. I only add ACV or brown sugar when it looks to not be fermenting well. They must love it because the free range birds would see you take the lid off that trash can and almost knock you down to get to it. I haven't tried to ferment the wheat or barley because we are growing it for fodder and they love that as much as the fermented feed!
    1 person likes this.
  6. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    Are you using a plastic trashcan?
  7. Oakieridge

    Oakieridge Songster

    Jan 25, 2012
    Lincoln Co., OK
    Yes we started out in a small plastic container but that wasn't near enough so we went to the big brown trash can. DH drilled a few holes in the lid so it gets ventilation. We have had the trashcan forever but I think they still sell them at Atwoods and Walmart.

  8. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    Just making sure it's not metal :)

    I use a big blue plastic trashcan as well. Too many birds to use simple buckets :lol:

  9. Roxannemc

    Roxannemc Songster

    Mar 30, 2012
    SE Missouri
    Starting some fermented feed Read an article on a study of layers and fermented but wonder about the additonal shell thickness.I lntend on hatching .Worried the shells might be too thick to allow hatch as some are thick now .Anyone feed ferment and hatch too?

  10. captdad

    captdad In the Brooder

    Nov 26, 2012
    How many birds? Just curious.

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