We all know that fermented food is good for us but did you know it’s good for your chickens too? Here’s how it is good for your chickens and a rundown on how we ferment grain for our flock.
They can benefit in several ways from fermented food. We feed our chook scraps of the same fermented foods that we eat, things like Sauerkraut and Kimchi, they love squabbling over chunks of Kombucha scoby and Apple Cider Vinegar mother and we periodically add Apple Cider Vinegar to their drinking water. They also love eating Bokashi vegetable scraps straight from the Bokashi bin!
The main way that we keep our flock’s gut biomes happy is through fermenting their grain. This simple, easy to do technique has many benefits which include more moisture in their diet, increases fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as microbes introduced from the ferment Fermenting your chicken’s grain also reduces the Phytic Acid in the seeds which actually impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and some other minerals. That’s why we must cook or at least soak so many of them before we can eat them and is why Phytic Acid is called an ‘anti-nutritive’ factor.
Fermenting grain is so easy that, after reading this, you’ll be wondering why you never did for your chooks it before.
All you need to do is to put the grain in water, make sure that it is well submerged. For grains like Wheat and Barley, make sure that you’ve got roughly the volume of water to grain because they’ll absorb lots of water.
Seal the lid on the container and leave it for three days in the warm weather if you see bubbles on the surface, you know that the ferment is working.
If you want to speed things up a little, add some liquid from another ferment to your bucket. Maybe you have some Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Apple Cider Vinegar – anything fermented from your kitchen can go in. You can add some Molasses too as that will feed the microbes in the ferment and make them multiply faster and work harder.
Your grain will swell a lot as it absorbs water. After 2 -3 days, depending on the weather, you will notice some bubbles forming on the surface of the water, especially if you stir the grains a little. This is CO2 that is formed as a waste product of the microbes going about their business and is exactly what you want to see. Give it another day or so for the microbes to really get busy and then you can feed it to your chickens.
You may notice a grey/white film or scum forming on the water’s surface. This is called Kahm yeast and is not an issue, it’s harmless to your chickens and
As with anything, don’t overdo the fermented foods. Everything in moderation, of course. Fermented food is acidic and too much acidic food, especially when it’s loaded with yeasts and other microbes can lead to an ailment known as Sour Crop in your chickens.
There aren’t many things that can go wrong with fermenting grain. it’s the same as when you ferment your own food, not keeping the food submerged below the surface of the water. If the water level falls below the top of the grain, you are exposing it to oxygen.