How is that for alliteration !
Last Monday we were fortunate to have Lisa and Frank Richards of Mack Hill Farm in Windsor, Vermont attend our local poultry group’s monthly meeting. Lisa was invited to speak on feeding fermented feed to poultry.
The next day I started fermenting!
I started immediately because I learned I could start by fermenting the feed I was currently using! People ferment various whole grain combinations and I will make some minor changes as I progress with fermented feeding. For now, the important thing to me was the fact I could take the feed I use and thus have and start fermenting!
That means layer pellets, cracked corn and water.
Let the fermenting begin!
Last Tuesday I started 3 buckets and did two more Wednesday night. First feeding was Saturday with a 3 day bucket. I used a 4 day bucket today (Sunday) and will use a 5 day bucket tomorrow Monday) so I can see where in the 3-5 fermenting range we want to settle.
Because you can start with what you are currently feeding!, we started with a mix of layer pellets and corn. I checked to see if mash was less expensive as it soaks to mash and decided that the one penny extra per 50# bag for pellets was worth it to have less dust in the kitchen.
Pic #1 & #2 show the mixture in the buckets. Cheap bird feed (for sprouting) added to two (added to third after pictures taken). Middle bucket is just feed mix before bird seed
Pic #3 – water added to two – add tepid water The two on the right already need more water:)
Pic #4 – no covers available when I picked up the buckets so I used saran wrap to cover until I got covers yesterday.
Make sure you fill shy of 3/4 full w/ dry feed! It swells and bubbles as it ferments. I had to scoop out feed as I learned the right level! Keep adding water as needed and keep a little water over the top of the mix. I now add the birdseed after the initial swelling has happened.
There are currently six covered buckets in the kitchen! (only place warm enough for us to ferment right now) I have friends that do it in their basement. You want a spot where you can maintain 60-70 degrees, The open bucket is a 5 day bucket and will be fed tomorrow (Monday). The second picture just shows who the nose in the first picture belongs to! Abigail has been very intrigued and actually tried some before I found the covers.
You will note that I have the buckets sitting on boot trays. They have swelled and bubbled over as I learn the amount of feed to start a bucket.
Fed Fayrehale Fowl First Fermented Feed
Yesterday (Saturday) I took a 5 gallon bucket of fermented feed (3 days fermenting) and fed the birds. The 4 chicken pens attacked it like one would go after an addictive special treat! Crazily eating it.
The ducks and geese were more cautious and not so sure that “slop” was appropriate. The Saxonys dove in first and then the geese decided they were missing out on something good.
I was using 100# every 2 days of dry. 100# made 6 buckets of fermented so if there is a 50% cut, I will use 1.5 buckets a day. If a 30% cut, I will use two buckets a day. I will get this fine tuned!
Either way! 30% to 50% is a significant decrease in feed costs and the birds are healthier and the yolks will be larger!!!
Today, Sunday, was day 2 of feeding fermented feed! The birds were all excited and got right down to the business of eating. I like seeing all that moisture going in to them too during this cold weather! I used 1.5 buckets today.
Looks like I am using about half the feed that I was using before. Will keep working on portions and number of feedings until I am sure they are satiated each day.
I plan to stick with this system for now with a minor addition or two! I will add some dried kelp (a cup or two per bucket) AFTER I check to make sure it is Atlantic Coast sourced and not from the Pacific Coast!. I will also add my food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) to the mix when I feed it. In the spring I will switch out the cracked corn for crimped oats.
That is what I am doing to start! I will post several good links for you to use as resources and there is lots of research out there. Fermented feed not only saves feed and cuts feed costs, it makes healthier birds.
Why and How to Ferment Your Chicken Feed
The above will give you a great start. Our birds all seem happy with the change and I sure like to see all that moisture going in to their system during this frigid weather. I feed twice a day so it is consumed before it freezes. You just have to work with your birds until you find the amount they will consume. I still scatter some scratch (after morning feeding which is the larger feeding) to keep them occupied and to keep the bedding worked.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Day 3 – Feeding Fayrehale Fowl Fermented Feed – observations and conclusions about feeding fermented feed! WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG ??
I had been verbally told that it was a good way to feed. I could have done research and started way sooner than I did! Thank goodness Lisa Richards of Mack Hill Farm came up to speak to our local Poultry Group!
It absolutely saves 30-50% on feed. Thinking that I will fall in the 40% area? 4 bags out of 10 not used, $40 out of $100 saved — I can handle that!!
I used 1.5 buckets yesterday (that would be 50% less) and I fed 2 buckets today (that would be 33.3% less). My feeling is that the amount needs to be in between these two amounts.
I will continue to observe — Thinking I may end up alternating days — 1.5 buckets one day, 2 buckets the next … all depends on clean up today. I am no more into creating frozen feed than I am in making ice w/ water:):)
Speaking of water! They get fresh water after they are fed (and clean it up) so fresh water taken around in the afternoon. They seem to be “washing their beaks”! and then it freezes over night.
Will keep observing this too. They are getting lots of water in the feed now. You will be amazed at the amount of water absorbed by the feed.
So I am thinking that real savings will be 40-50%.
The birds themselves appear much more content. They are excited to see the feed bucket and dive right in but it is not frantic! They tend to business and once satiated they roost for a while. AND, NO, they are not drunk! fermented feed does not have that high an alcohol content! I think they are pleasantly satisfied!!
Besides kelp (EAST coast sourced) I will also add a little alfalfa pellet — The Chanteclers, particularly, love hay and consume the best of what I put in their hoop.
So, I will keep observing, and continue to wonder! —
WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG ??