A different way of feeding - warning very long post

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wolfpup
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A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by wolfpup » 15 Jul 2014, 09:16

In my intro I mentioned that I ferment my hen’s feed – I thought I would expand on that and explain my reasons why.

I used to have a major problem with flies - and started researching for ways to reduce them naturally - I then came across information about fermenting the feed for hens as a way of not only reducing flies, but also smell from poo – with the additional benefit of increasing the nutrition the girls get from their feed and enhancing their ability to resist disease. Another advantage of great interest to me was a reported saving in feed costs of up to 50% due to the hens eating far less of the fermented feed because they gained so much more nutrition from the feed.

Vitamins needed by chickens: Found In
Vitamin A and beta-carotene: leafy greens, eggs, fishmeal.
Vitamin B1 - thiamine: sunflower seeds, whole grains.
Vitamin B9 - Folate Leafy greens, wheat germ, sunflower seeds
Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin: milk, leafy greens, nuts, yoghurt, sunflower seeds
Vitamin B3 - Niacin: yeast, beans, sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B5 - pantothenic acid: liver, fish, whole grains, peas, sunflower seeds
Vitamin B6 - Pyroxidine: chick peas, oats, baked potatoes, whole grains, lentils, eggs, sunflower seeds
Vitamin B12: fish, dairy, beef, milk. Eggs, fishmeal.
Vitamin D3: sunlight, cod liver oil. eggs
Vitamin E - tocopherol: grains, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, fishmeal.
Vitamin K3: leafy greens, dairy (if in form of cheese – only in moderation), meat.
Biotin: Cereals, strawberries, raspberries, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, fishmeal
vit c, Peppers, Kale, Broccoli, Strawberries, tomatoes

CAVEATS:

1. I am NO ‘expert’ and certainly NOT a scientist - just trying to learn from them and passing on what I believe I have proved for myself.

2. I am not trying to tell ANYONE they are ‘doing it wrong’ – or that I am ‘doing it right’. This post is purely to explain findings from an experiment in feeding my girls fermented feed and my reasons to continue to do it.

Some of the scientific studies, forums, blogs and excerpts I read before starting this and some of the quotes and statements you will see later on come from these:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19373724/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed...373724/related
http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/82/4/603.abstract
http://www.unboundmedicine.com/medli...e_of_broilers_
http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspo...nted-feed.html
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/64...for-meat-birds
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/72...ad-ots-welcome
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/70...their-progress
It took me over two months to read all this information – and I did read every post on each of the threads! (OK, OK, OK - I am anal about research – I know)


The Reason for the experiment

Benefits spouted on the threads and other sites (and mostly confirmed by scientific studies) In no particular order:

1. Cost - after feeding fermented feed – a lessening of feed costs of between 1/3 – ½ were reported – the hens actually ate much less of the feed because they got more out of it. Fermenting feed also reduced the amount of wastage by hens flicking food around.

2. Improved ability to digest the nutrients of the feed - therefore gaining more nutrition from less feed

3. Greatly increased immune system function – “The feeding of fermented feed increased intestinal health by acidification of the upper digestive tract, forming a natural barrier towards infection with acid sensitive pathogens, e.g. E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter” This quote is taken from a scientific study :- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19373724/

4. Improved ‘poos’ no more squirty sloppy messes – nice solid and white topped (urine) poos.

5. Vastly reduced ‘poo’ smell in the coop and run – particularly with the meat-birds.

“The whole concept behind giving FF is this increased intestinal health that decreases chance of parasite overload, probiotics that increase immune system health and aid in digestion, increased ability to absorb and utilize the proteins and other nutrients in the feed, increased reproductive health resulting in better laying and heavier eggs, prohibits overgrowth of cocci, e.coli,shagella, salmonella bacteria/protozoa in the bowels.” This quote is from Beekissed on the Backyard Chicken forum – I could not have put it better myself.

Somewhere in the articles listed above someone mentions about gaining another 12% protein. FF doesn't ADD 12%, but it can allow up to that much more of the available proteins in the feed to be utilized by the animal. For instance, if you are currently feeding 16% layer mash, your birds may only be getting the benefit of maybe three quarters of that protein because a monogastric animal has a hard time absorbing the proteins in some grains (corn is one) and it depends on how much protein in your feed is derived from those particular grains. Fermenting these grains breaks the proteins down into a more easily digested and utilized nutrient by the chicken, so you may actually be giving them a truer representation of that protein listed on the feed bag.

I make my own Lactic Acid Bacteria (bacillus) using rice wash and milk - a fabulous instructional video on Utube is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG4M71vMbTs it is VERY easy to do. I use this not only to start a new batch of fermentation off but also to disinfect their run, use on my tomato plants/veggies and also to disinfect the ground of their extended runs - no smelly ground for me. I also add a teaspoon full to my dog’s water to give them the benefits of the pre and probiotics. However you can ferment your normal feed just using water – and time. I wanted to be sure however that I was getting pure LAB.

You can ferment your current layers pellets, layers mash or growers crumbles – you don’t have to buy anything else! You can feed it to day old chicks, pullets and laying hens.

I use layers Mash as grains drain easier than pellets and my girls prefer mash to pellets, and I supplement this with rolled steamed oats, barley and wheat whole grains and BOSS. You don’t have to - it is my choice. It also actually works out cheaper for me to feed like this than buying only the mash.

POSSIBLE ‘CONTRA INDICATIONS’

1. Some people reported their girls did not like the new feed to start with – but after a few days ate it willingly. Mine showed no inclination not to eat it - they went after it like velociraptors.

2. Some people reported some of their hens stopped laying for up to a week whilst they acclimatized to the new feed. I lost one egg for one day from my normal amount.

3. One of the studies commented: “Fermented feed seemed to lose attractiveness for the birds quite rapidly, resulting in a more aggressive behaviour and a poorer plumage condition than in birds given dry feed”. …………………..To this I would add that the hens were apparently kept indoors, in a lab setting with nothing else to occupy their minds. Nor do I know that they were in tip-top condition to start with – the experiment only lasted a month I believe. Hens are naturally forest animals – not lab animals – if your family was kept confined in say the lounge for a month and had to eat, drink, use the toilet and sleep there – it would not be long before you started attacking each other would it? No-one I have read about on all the sites has reported any sort of aggression – but many have reported an increased interest in foraging, everyone noticed an increase in plumage glossiness and shine, the girls looked much better. The hens also appear far more active and ‘interested’

4. It’s too much hassle – takes too much time. It takes me about 5 min a day longer – because I actually go out and feed them twice a day.

MY CONCLUSIONS

Now to take those original reasons for trying it:-

1. Cost - after feeding fermented feed – a lessening of feed costs of between 1/3 – ½ were reported. I have undoubtedly seen a substantial reduction of the amount of food eaten/used/wasted – therefore less cost (always a bonus).

2. Improved ability to digest the nutrients of the feed - therefore gaining more from less feed. I must agree to this statement – Everyone, myself included, has noticed a deepening of yolk colour, and also the yolks actually got bigger.

3. Greatly increased immune system function – “The feeding of fermented feed increased intestinal health by acidification of the upper digestive tract, forming a natural barrier towards infection with acid sensitive pathogens, e.g. E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter” I am perfectly happy to take the scientific study’s findings on this. Anything that improves my small flock’s ability to resist illness has got to be a plus.

4. Improved ‘poos’ no more squirty sloppy messes – nice solid and white topped (urine) poos. I can definitely attest to this. Previously my hen’s poos were quite sloppy – many times to the point of diarrhoea – now they are pickup-able

5. Vastly reduced smell in the coop and run. Again I can attest to this – after only 3 days the coop and fox-proof section of their run did not smell at all (we do clean it out daily)

6. One additional point that was very important to me (also linked to #2) is that I no longer have swarms of flies alighting on any poo in the coops and fox-proof section - which is only a few feet from my kitchen door (hence the initial interest in getting rid of them). I have never seen a fly on the fermented feed nor have I seen a fly on any poo dropped. I can only surmise that this is because the hens are now absorbing almost all the nutrients of the feed ……. There is nothing coming out the other end to interest the flies.

I did get a little concerned with working out the overall protein content of the feed I was giving my hens with the additional wheat/oats/barley having a different protein levels to the layers mash, as do ‘treats’ like mealworms, earthworms etc., you can give too much protein as well as too little. There is a free calculator on the internet the ‘Pearson Square’ https://homesteadapps.com/app/free/f...rsonsquare.php however I could not get on with it (too complicated for me with using more than two ingredients) – so I designed an excel spreadsheet to work this out for me – if anyone would like a copy of this spreadsheet just pm me your email address.

Image

I was sceptical to start with, it seemed too good to be true (and you know what they say about that) – and I also thought it just might have been another ‘American fad’. I thought the only way to find out was to try it myself and see. I have seen definitive benefits – even if it was only for the lack of flies and elimination of smell I would continue to ferment my girls feed but the additional benefits for the girls of increased ability to resist disease (lowering vet fees) and lowering of feed costs suits an old pensioner quite well.

I really hope this post has as least piqued the interest of some hen owners on the forum. As I stated right at the start - I am in no way suggesting I am ‘right’ and everyone else is ‘wrong’ for not doing it. This is quite a new concept to ‘ordinary’ backyard chicken keepers like us, even if the commercial industry is now looking closely at it …………… I had not heard of it until around 6 months ago, but some people in the USA have been doing it for years and I shamelessly took advantage of their knowledge and experience. I hope a few of you are curious enough to at least check out some of the sites above.

Apologies for the length of the post but ……..To misquote Treebeard ……………… if you do have something to say – it’s worth taking a long time to say it.

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by Henwife » 15 Jul 2014, 10:06

Certainly a thoughtful post and for those who really do have 'back garden' chicken in urban areas, a worthwhile experiment. As I am lucky enough to have had a lot of 'run space' in the days my poultry population rose to just under 150 I never had sloppy poo problems. Now that I'm down to a dozen Speckled Sussex bantams and a small flock of guinea fowl, all of whom live unconfined, layers pellets seem to be a staple only of blackbirds, robins, occasional pigeons & crows, and rabbits (why can't the fox keep up with those?). Obviously in the winter the domestic poultry eat more of the pellets, but even so, the cost is low and I am too lazy to experiment.
Guinea fowl & a lot of surplus poultry equipment.

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by Moriarty » 15 Jul 2014, 11:54

very interesting and good research, I may give this a go. Flies are a big problem ... however I live in a big fruit-growing region so that's the norm - but anything I can do to reduce the numbers (in addition to my several RedTop fly traps) is worth a go. Thanks for this.
my chooks: Sage&Onion, Roger the randy cockerel, Squawkbox, Bonnie 'N' Clyde, Pancakes, Custard, Omelette & EggNog. Plus four garden cats and another half dozen feral ones that I feed. And a nursery of pipistrelle bats in the verandah roof ..

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by crazypianolady » 15 Jul 2014, 12:48

Very interesting, thnk you for posting! :)

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by subruss » 15 Jul 2014, 22:33

– but many have reported an increased interest in foraging, everyone noticed an increase in plumage glossiness and shine, the girls looked much better. The hens also appear far more active and ‘interested’

An interesting post :scratch: ref the above statement, if you have the room to forage your hens then just feed them a lot less , they will forage more with the same results and if your hens are foraging how would a little bit of feed effect their poo to such an extent, to achieve that result the feed would have to be the main ingredient in their diet similar to dried dog food to get drier dog poo, I will look into this a bit further, well that's the sceptical bit over now the cynical bit this also sounds like somebody trying to launch or increase the market for a product :)

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by wolfpup » 16 Jul 2014, 08:07

subruss wrote:– but many have reported an increased interest in foraging, everyone noticed an increase in plumage glossiness and shine, the girls looked much better. The hens also appear far more active and ‘interested’

An interesting post :scratch: ref the above statement, if you have the room to forage your hens then just feed them a lot less , they will forage more with the same results and if your hens are foraging how would a little bit of feed effect their poo to such an extent, to achieve that result the feed would have to be the main ingredient in their diet similar to dried dog food to get drier dog poo, I will look into this a bit further, well that's the sceptical bit over now the cynical bit this also sounds like somebody trying to launch or increase the market for a product :)
I do not have the land to forage unfortunately - just my garden - but the hens seem more active for some reason. Others in the States do have the land - and I was merely passing on what they had reported about foraging. Skepticism is healthy :) As to someone trying to launch a product - you can make the LAB from a rice wash and milk for pennies with information from the internet for free. I suppose someone could try fermenting the feed, drying it and then sell it on as an enhanced dry feed - its possible and I am sure one of the large animal feed companies is looking at it (I think there is a dog food on the market with these properties) - but why pay for a product when you can do it yourself for nowt??

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by subruss » 16 Jul 2014, 10:28

Don't take my scepticism as a negative its what spurs me on to look further into things and after reading about it last night there is some scientific support for it but it appears to be the same argument as the probiotics for humans ie yakult etc in that it can help but a good balanced diet does the same thing. There are products out there and I would imagine that people who go down this line will end up buying these products instead of making their own, and after watching videos and some of the instruction posted on the internet only seems suited to a very small amount for very few chickens( unless you have some spare space and time to use up) and most poultry keepers I know don't stop at 3 birds :lol: . But I am still reading :thumbright:

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by wolfpup » 16 Jul 2014, 11:19

I agree - chicken math is a killer, I started out with 5, then 4, then 3, then 2, then 5, 4, 3, 2, now 8 - with room for another 4 sometime in the future :grin:

As I said my main reason for trying it was I wanted to get rid of the clouds of flies I had buzzing only a couple of feet from my kitchen door - this has done the job wonderfully for me. In fact we had almost forgotten the flies - until I added my new girls, and within hours there were dozens of flies buzzing in their fox proof section landing on their poo. 48 hours later - no flies in their run or around their poo.

YMMV - but for me it is a godsend - I was sceptical at first - that is why I decided the best thing to do was to try it for myself after a lot of reading - which you are doing now - and that is all I wanted to do - get someone interested enough to do some reading. BTW the largest number of birds that are being fed this way that I know of is around 225 - its in one of the posts from backyard chickens. :shock:

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by soufle » 20 Jul 2014, 12:37

Wolfpup, most intersting and timely post , thank you .Timely as I am doing some research myself. You've saved me the effort and I will read all the links shortly.!! My hens have ad lib pellets,I think its a goodpellet, they have quite alot of room to forage although not totally free range. I have no particular problems but being interested in FF in as much as I make keffir I can see how this might be an improvement for those of us with a reasonable numbers.I would love to receive your spread sheet with appropriate weights and contents.

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by wolfpup » 20 Jul 2014, 16:11

soufle wrote:Wolfpup, most intersting and timely post , thank you .Timely as I am doing some research myself. You've saved me the effort and I will read all the links shortly.!! My hens have ad lib pellets,I think its a goodpellet, they have quite alot of room to forage although not totally free range. I have no particular problems but being interested in FF in as much as I make keffir I can see how this might be an improvement for those of us with a reasonable numbers.I would love to receive your spread sheet with appropriate weights and contents.

Very glad you are interested in the post. Doing the FF for my girls has now sparked an interest in fermenting vegetables for ourselves - just at the reading/research stage now - and trying to find a cheap source of suitable jars! My one comment about using pellets is that a mash tends to be easier to strain - unless you go for a much thicker consistency once ferment is going - a lot of people use pellets or crumble - I find that my girls prefer a mash - and as I don't use too thick a consistency I need to strain mine a little (takes about 2 minutes)

If you pm me your email address I will send you a copy of my spreadsheet - you can alter anything in it except those columns coloured purple. It is in Excel 2010 format - if you require an earlier version I can alter it before I send it - (I used to lecture in IT).

As for weights - it really depends on what you are giving them. The best thing to do is weigh the lightest ingredient that you regularly feed - and then the others and use in proportion. For me it was easy as a cup of mixed wheat/oats/barley weighed the same as a cup of mash - also the same for the sunflower seeds (a gram or so difference only) - so I just played with it to get the protein percentage I wanted.

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by soufle » 21 Jul 2014, 21:02

wolfpup, thanks, I read a few references to rice wash,I'd not heard of it before and as I didnt have rice in the house, in fact the only thing I could find was organic porridge oats so have used those. I'm a little confused as a lot of people seem to just add non chlorinated water to whatever they want to ferment and let wild bacteria do the rest as in a sourdough starter.
http://scratchcradle.wordpress.com/2012 ... nted-feed/

I have live ACV and might try that but I'm also tempted to have a go at a kefir sourdough and use that,the sourdough can stay in the mix and be eaten. I'm planning to leave the pellets ad lib as normal and give the FF morning and night but I'm pretty certain that they will abandon the pellets.I'm going to use mixed corn for a start but might get a sack of peas and BOSS if I can get non GM .


Another benefit of fermenting grains is that the phytates are leached out. I was surprised to read somehwere that chickens are bothered by phytates the same as we are.I had thought they'd be better adapted to eating grains but when you think about it given the choice or in a wild environment I'm sure they'd have a large proportion of insects and worms and maybe some grains in season.The following article shows how phytates affect how the food is utilised. The same applies to humans in a similar way..hence I have no grains in the house.
I'll let you know how things progress.
http://www.ans.iastate.edu/section/Ensm ... Persia.pdf

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by wolfpup » 22 Jul 2014, 08:56

You can just use water - and time - however I wanted to be sure I was getting pure LAB - hence the rice wash - I always have rice in the house. When I first started out I used AVC with the 'mother' but have got on better with the LAB. Now I just have a continuous bucket going, I just add feed and water as required - it only takes 24 hours to get a good ferment going now as I 'backslop' rather than running totally out of feed and starting again.

I know what you mean about the phytates - it surprised me as well when I first started out but reasoned that the way hens in the wild ate grains was from cow patties, that had already gone through a form of fermentation :) . My girls thrive on their wheat, oats and barley and mash mix now.

Don't forget to pm me your email address so I can send you the spreadsheet.

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Re: A different way of feeding - warning very long post

Post by soufle » 22 Jul 2014, 19:53

along time ago in chicken evolution I think what would be available would be nothing like what our chooks eat now.Ancient varieties are very much removed from modern highly bred wheats for instance. Also since chickens are closely related to T rex , who was a voracious carnivore I would guess that grain would be a very poor second to flesh .
I fed a small amount of the FF today ,it went down well and so I am going to slowly increase the amount I offer.

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