I swear it’s like I’ve found my calling and I’ve run with it…
Fermenting is the process of lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation has been around since the dawn of time, as my momma used to say!
To keep it simple…
Fermenting = probiotics.
Fermented chicken feed = probiotics for your chickens.
See. Easy peasy.
So, when 40 bags of chicken food was delivered to my front door, this crazy lady decided to ferment that too. Surprised? Yeah- Beau wasn’t either.
I had read about fermented chicken feed for quite some time, but I just wasn’t sure I wanted to create more work for myself. After all, time is pretty scarce on a farm come Spring time. But, after scouring the internet for days-on-end (okay- one night), Beau and I came up with a simple solution. It takes us an extra 20 minutes a day to make and use the fermented chicken feed, but in this case time is NOT money.
Why? Because spending that 20 minutes actually saves us A LOT of money. It literally cuts our feed costs in HALF. Yep- half. That’s not a typo. Fermented chicken feed not only provides free probiotics, it forces the feed to expand and double in volume. This is turn makes the chickens eat and waste less.
See. It’s a win!
Fermented Chicken Feed
Since we have a large number of chickens we ferment the feed in 5 gallon buckets. We have different stages/types of chickens throughout the year (chicks, meat chickens, egg layers), so we are fermenting 2-3 types of feed at a time.
It is best to ferment the feed for a total of three days, however it can be done with just one overnight soak. The longer the fermentation- the more probiotics.
To ferment one type of chicken feed for three days, you will need:
– 6- Five Gallon Buckets (BPA free): 3 with no holes in the bottom, 3 with drilled holes (see instructions)
– 3 lids
– Chicken Feed
1. Drill holes in 3 buckets. Beau used 1/8″ and a 1/16″ drill bits. It isn’t an exact science- just drill the holes like the pics below.
2. The bucket with the holes (right) will be placed into the bucket with no holes (left). This allows you to pull the bucket up and let the water drain out every morning.
Right now, Beau just pulls it up and “swishes” it with the handle from side-to-side. Eventually he will hang some heavy-duty hooks for us to just hang the buckets on.
3. Fill the bottom bucket (no holes) with a little water.
4. Insert bucket with the holes into the bucket without holes.
5. Add enough chicken feed to one set of buckets that you would use in a day (remember it does double).
For example, our baby chicks usually eat 4-5 scoops a day of “dry” food. We put 2 scoops into each bucket and this gives us our 4-5 scoops! See. Fermented chicken feed is a money saver!
6. Add clean water to the bucket. Make sure the bucket has enough water. The food will expand, so it’s better to have more water than not enough because it will develop mold if there isn’t water covering the top. After fermenting your chicken feed for a few days you will know the exact amount of water to feed ratio that you will need!
How to Use the Fermented Chicken Feed System for a Three Day Ferment
We did it the lazy-man way because we wanted to get started right away! So, the first day the chickens only had overnight soaked food- and that’s ok!
To get the process started: fill all three “sets” (a set being 1 bucket with holes and 1 bucket without) of buckets with the amount of feed for each day and put the lids on them. Label the buckets Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
The morning of the first day, drain the ‘Day 1’ bucket and take it over to the chickens. Our chickens get feed in the morning and at night. At the end of the night the ‘Day 1’ bucket should be empty.
But, don’t go to bed with the ‘Day 1’ bucket empty! Refill it with water and feed.
Repeat the process the next day using the ‘Day 2’ bucket. Fill the bucket up at the end of the night with water and feed.
On day three use the ‘Day 3’ bucket. Fill with water and food at the end of the day.
Now, on day four you will be using the ‘Day 1″ bucket, which will now have had a three day ferment!
Just rotate the buckets in order! 1, 2, 3. Repeat.
It isn’t an exact science. Just fill the buckets, get into your groove, and you will find a system that works for you.
*You will find that you will need to adjust how much feed you may need. Just experiment!
** You will want to check the feed once a day to make sure it has enough water in it. When we refill the day’s bucket at the end of the day we usually take a peek into each bucket and sometimes stir if needed.
*** Don’t waste that fermented feed water! We give it to all of the animals on the farm!