Are you looking for ways to stretch your feed budget as well as improve the health of your backyard chickens? Fermented chicken feed is the answer you are searching for! Is it appetizing? No. Will your hens go wild over it? Absolutely!
I have been fermenting our chicken feed for just over two years. This was something we implemented on our homestead during covid when we were limiting our trips to town, trying to stay home while we were learning about the virus. It was an easy way for me to stretch our budget while increasing the complexity of nutritional benefits of the feed. It also reduces waste! My hens love it, too!
One of my favorite videos about fermenting chicken feed is Foothills Farm + SARE Feed Fermentation Study . The Foothills Farm has a flock of about one thousand pastured hens. Does feeding your flock fermented feed (rather than traditional dry feed) increase chicken health and egg yield? Will fermentation result in economic gains...or losses? Watch the linked video to find out! (spoiler: you will definitely want to learn how to ferment feed after watching this!)
- what is fermented chicken feed?
- Ingredients for fermented chicken feed
- how to know how much feed to ferment per chicken
- corn-free soy-free chicken treat recipe
- where to purchase corn-free and soy-free chicken layer feed
- more posts about chickens
- Top tip
- Looking for other posts about chickens? Try these:
what is fermented chicken feed?
Fermentation describes the action of bacteria and yeast feasting on a food source. In this case, chicken feed! What occurs during fermentation is the bacteria begin to digest the food molecules, breaking it down into tiny pieces and changing it slightly on a molecular level. I love this process because once the fermentation begins the micronutrients, like minerals, are released and become more consumable in the food.
Fermenting chicken feed is super easy to do and is a money saver - it requires about ⅓ less dry feed per serving, and the expanded, fermented grains will have increased nutritional value.The beneficial yeasts, probiotics, and bacteria contained in fermented feed promote intestinal and immune system health. Fermented feed is better utilized for energy and nutrition, which decreases the amount of poop produced by the flock... so less cleaning the coop! It also hydrates the flock as they eat the soaked grains which can be especially beneficial during hot or dry seasons.
Ingredients for fermented chicken feed
I didn't forget to add ingredients here, it's as simple as high quality chicken feed and water! I'm using Scratch & Peck Naturally Free Organic Layer Feed. I like this variety because it is a complete mash that has not been subjected to heat treatment. I have also successfully made this with chicken layer crumbles.
- Chicken Layer Feed Mash or Crumbles
This is a simple process that takes approximately 24-36 hours to complete. You will need a kitchen scale and a medium or large bucket with lid, depending on how much you are making.
Combine one part chicken layer feed and two parts water in a container with lid. Allow plenty of room for expansion! Leave the lid loose.
Stir the mixture once a day. Keep the lid on loosely. It takes approximately 48-72 hours for fermentation to occur. The mixture will be slightly bubbly and a have a tangy smell when ready.
Pour a ration of fermented feed into a trough style feeder each day based on the amount of chickens you are feeding.
Let your lovely ladies enjoy their nutritious meal!
how to know how much feed to ferment per chicken
Without fermentation, the daily ration of feed per bird is ⅓ pound. Fermenting decreases the overall amount of feed per bird to ¼ pound. These measurements may vary depending on the type of layer feed you are using. For example, if you have 8 chickens, you will need to ferment 2 pounds of chicken feed per day to meet their nutritional needs.
The ratio for fermenting chicken feed is one part feed to two parts water. In our scenario of 8 chickens being fed 2 pounds of chicken layer feed, the ratio is 2 pounds of feed combined with 4 pounds of water for fermentation to occur.
Hint: Mark on the container or bucket how much grain to add and also a water fill line so that you don't have to measure by weight every time!
corn-free soy-free chicken treat recipe
I have intentionally made this recipe corn-free and soy-free. It can be challenging to find nutrient dense chicken layer feed and chicken scratch that omits corn and soy, but in my personal opinion it is worth it. We choose to limit those ingredients and only eat them in moderation, so this is the diet I want for our backyard hens.
where to purchase corn-free and soy-free chicken layer feed
If your chicken feed contains corn or soy, just use your normal layer feed and don't worry about it! It can be hard to source. If you are looking for specialty chicken feed, chicken scratch, chicken herbs or grubs, I have had great luck with Scratch & Peck Feeds. They are a non-GMO verified and organic certified producer to make sure we are getting the highest quality, healthiest and safest foods for our backyard flocks! Use code NINNESCAHHOMESTEAD15 for a 15% discount!
disclosure: I am an affiliate with Scratch and Peck Feeds. When you make a purchase through my link, I receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. I only share links for products that I love, and when you make a purchase it directly supports my family and all of the projects, pets, and livestock on our growing homestead. From my house to yours, thank you!
more posts about chickens
I just adore our backyard flock, and I am continually adding more content to the blog! If you want to learn if chickens can be a good tool for natural pest management, check out my post A Guide To Organic Pest Management in the Garden. We also raise more than 100 Cornish Cross chickens for meat each year and I share our experience in the blog post Meat Chickens: What We Learned.
During the months when egg production is high, consider water glassing your eggs to make them shelf stable for up to eight months (or more!) by reading How to Preserve Eggs. Finally, if you'd like to learn how to spoil your chickens with a tasty and protein packed treat, check out How to Make a Flock Block.
Get my Free Guide for Raising Chicks E-Book and learn everything you need to know to get started on your backyard chicken journey!
You will need a bucket for fermenting chicken layer feed. I like to use inexpensive cereal containers with flip-top lids from the dollar store. The first time I weighed out my feed and water, I marked on the bucket what level to fill it to. One mark for the feed, then another for the water. This is helpful so that I don't need a scale every day when I am mixing my ferment.
This works best when made fresh each day. If you are not able to feed the fermented grains to the chickens on the day that it is ready, it needs to be immediately put in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. If left at room temperature, the mixture will eventually fully ferment and turn into alcohol, which isn't recommended for chicken consumption.
Fermented feed is particularly helpful during hot summer months because it is a way to get the chickens to ingest even more water than normal. Let's have hydrated and happy chickens, right?
The longer a ferment sits, the more fermented it will become. My chickens will refuse to eat fermented feed that is more than 3-4 days old. One tip storing fermented feed is to keep it in the refrigerator to slow or stop the fermentation process. I still would try to use it within a few days of it being finished.
Properly fermented chicken feed will have a tangy and sour smell, similar to yogurt. It will have a bubbly texture. If your feed smells like mold or musty, it may have been contaminated. I personally would not risk feeding foul smelling feed to my chickens.
Fermented feed is typically ready to be fed to chickens between 2-3 days. It can be store for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. If the fermented feed grows mold, throw it away. Sterilize your containers and start over!