This post may contain affiliate links.

Fermenting chicken feed wasn’t something I originally intended to do. It was only after I had 32 chickens eating the same feed—which turned into us going through a 40-lb bag of feed in 4-5 days—that I considered it.

I had seen some members of my homesteading community fermenting their chicken feed and talking about the food savings, which piqued my interest.

Why Ferment Chicken Feed

I was mainly interested in fermenting my chicken’s feed to stretch that 40-lb bag longer than 4-5 days.  The basic concept is to cover grains in water and allow them to soak for a few days. 

As I began researching the process, I realized how beneficial fermentation was to the chicken’s health.  Two really interesting facts that support fermentation stood out to me.  I did not know grains and seeds contain barriers that protect them before germination. 

When ingested, these barriers prevent the absorption of all the nutrients that could benefit the consumer.  Fermenting allows those barriers to break down and the nutrients to be accessible.  You can read all of the fun, technical information about this here. 

Secondly, fermented feed contains more probiotics, vitamins, and good bacteria than regular feed.  It is identical to the benefits of fermented foods and yogurts with live cultures.  Not only do you save money, but you are actually able to benefit your animals nutritionally.

A Simple Process on How to Ferment Chicken Feed

I only began fermenting very recently and have created a basic process I use.

Step One

Begin with a clean, food-grade vessel. Since I have 32 chicken mouths to feed, I used a 5-gallon bucket. However, if your flock is smaller, you can avoid using a smaller container. Scrub the container clean before you use it.

41479487 332180937535185 3230137314390835200 n

Step Two

Measure out the feed.  I picked the brains of several friends who fermented and found that most of them used 1/4 cup of feed per bird.  Put the feed in the container.  You can also add other things (scratch grains, whole oats, oregano, etc.).  I would recommend getting the basic process down before adding in other ingredients.

41501554 284811989002343 817476896567590912 n

Step Three

Add in unchlorinated water.  If your water happens to be chlorinated, fill a container and let it sit for 24 hours–the chlorine will have evaporated by then.  The feed needs to be covered by AT LEAST one inch of water. 

It is important to check it frequently during the first couple of hours.  As the feed absorbs water, the water level will decrease.  Not having the food covered inhibits fermentation and encourages mold and/or bad bacteria to flourish.

41429362 291467425005724 2754476360738013184 n 1

Step Four

41473046 247199779313584 4731154987646713856 n

The container needs to be covered but still allowed to breathe. If you are using a small container, a piece of cheesecloth is suitable. I use the lid for a 5-gallon bucket. I make sure to snap some of it on and leave the rest open so the food can “breathe.”  

Step Five

Over the next 48 hours, stir the mixture AT LEAST once a day.  There should be bubbles when you stir, indicating that fermentation is happening!  Monitor the water level and adjust if necessary.

The mixture will take on a slightly tangy smell, which is what you want.  I think it has a similar smell to some sourdough bread starters I have made in the past.

41420763 2011844695546077 3757186284724944896 n
After 12 hour soak
41552600 469836506834476 5320760796597190656 n
After 36 hour soak

Step Six

After 48 hours of soaking, the fermented feed is ready to be fed to your chickens. I have tried a couple of different ways of scooping it out—using a ladle, a deep fryer skimmer, and a slotted spoon. I finally used my grain scoop and loved it! Be sure to get down to the bottom as the feed settles after you stir it.

41462050 464931927339051 471445481906503680 n

Some of the water will rise to the top.  Tilt whatever you use to the side and try to drain off as much as possible.  You can reuse the water for the next fermentation.

Step Seven

Your chickens are ready to eat! Decide whether to put the food in another container to feed or plop it on the ground. I tried using feed tubs, but the chickens were scared of them!

41450676 404648560066997 8286434352980557824 n
41585510 520638298377684 7106407438617673728 n

The fence is wide enough for them to stick their heads through. I push it back and make a feed line on the fence line. I chose not to measure it out for each bird because, well, with 32 birds, that’s a lot of measuring, and I have no way of keeping them all separate.

They do have free choice of feed in their feeders in the coops.  They have cut back on eating pellets as much!  I have two coops- one with 12 birds and one with 20. 

I filled the larger coop once a day and the smaller one every 2-3 days.  Since I’ve been offering fermented feed in the morning and evening, I am filling the larger coop every 2(ish) day and the smaller coop every 4-5 days.

Tips & Tricks

If you live in a warm climate or have a freakishly hot & humid day, put the fermenting feed somewhere cooler!  We had a week of 90+ and humid weather, and I lost two batches of feed to mold.  If it ever looks funny or smells off, toss it!  It is better to be safe than sorry with animals.

The remaining water in the container can be reused for the next fermenting.  Just top off the mixture with new water to ensure it’s covered an inch.  It will still contain some great nutrients that will be added to the new batch!

Optional: Two weeks after fermenting chicken feed, I began mixing a regular scratch mix with my feed (cut the feed in half and replace it with scratch).  I found the feed easier to scoop by adding the corn and grains.  Again, this is a choice TOTALLY up to you!**

Other Ideas You Might Like

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *