Fermenting Chicken Feed: A Beginner’s Guide

As a chicken owner, you’re always looking for ways to improve your birds’ health and wellbeing. One popular method is fermenting their feed, but it can be intimidating if you’re new to the practice. If you’re wondering if your fermented feed looks right or are concerned about the mess it may create, this article is for you.

What is Fermented Feed?

Fermented feed is a type of feed that has gained popularity among backyard chicken owners in recent years. It involves soaking the feed in water for several days to allow for a natural fermentation process to occur. During this process, beneficial bacteria and yeast naturally present on the feed start to multiply and create enzymes that break down the feed’s complex carbohydrates and proteins. As a result, the feed becomes more digestible for chickens, increasing nutrient availability and promoting overall health.

Fermented feed also has a slightly sour smell and taste, which is appealing to chickens and can lead to increased feed intake. By incorporating fermented feed into your chicken’s diet, you may notice improvements in their overall health, digestion, and egg production.

Why Ferment Your Chicken Feed?

There are several benefits to fermenting your chicken feed. Fermented feed:

  • Increases nutrient availability: As mentioned, the fermentation process makes the nutrients in the feed more accessible to your birds.
  • Improves gut health: The beneficial bacteria in fermented feed can promote a healthy gut microbiome in your birds, leading to better digestion, stronger immune systems, and fewer health issues.
  • Reduces feed waste: Chickens tend to waste less fermented feed compared to dry feed, which can save you money in the long run.
  • Saves time: While fermenting feed does require some time and effort upfront, it can save you time in the long run by improving your birds’ overall health and reducing the need for costly vet visits.

Is Your Fermented Feed Too Mushy?

One common concern among those new to fermenting their chicken feed is that it looks too mushy. As the original poster asked, “Is that how it’s supposed to be?” The answer is yes, to a degree. You want your fermented feed to be thick and have a consistency similar to cooked oatmeal. This may seem messy, but it’s easier for your birds to eat, and it reduces waste.

How to Ferment Your Chicken Feed

To start fermenting your chicken feed, you’ll need:

  • A food-grade bucket with a lid
  • Your chicken feed of choice (starter/broiler crumble, layer feed, etc.)
  • Water
  • A measuring cup
  • A stirring utensil (I prefer a large wooden spoon)
  • A paint strainer (optional)

Step 1: Add Feed and Water to Your Bucket

Start by measuring out the amount of feed you’ll need for your birds and add it to your food-grade bucket. For every cup of feed, add two cups of water. Stir the feed and water together until it’s fully combined.

Step 2: Cover and Wait

Once your feed and water are combined, cover the bucket with a lid (or a piece of plastic wrap secured with a rubber band) and leave it in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days. The ideal temperature for fermenting feed is between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Check and Stir

After 2-3 days, check on your feed. You should see small bubbles and notice a slightly sour smell. This is the fermentation process in action! Stir the feed to release any gas bubbles that may have formed.

Step 4: Strain (Optional)

If you’re concerned about the consistency of your fermented feed, you can strain it using a paint strainer. This will remove any excess water and create a thicker feed. It’s not necessary, but some chicken owners prefer the texture.

Step 5: Feed Your Birds

Once your fermented feed is ready, you can offer it to your birds. You can use a trough-style feeder or simply pour the feed into large feed bowls. Your birds may make a mess, but they’ll quickly adapt to the new texture.


Fermenting starter/broiler crumble is a great way to provide healthier and more nutritious food for your chickens. While it may seem like a hassle at first, with a little bit of practice and some helpful tips, you can easily create a fermented feed that your chickens will love.

Just remember to keep the mixture thick like oatmeal, use a trough style feeder to minimize waste, and consider using a paint strainer to make the straining process easier. With these simple steps, you can create a healthier diet for your chickens and enjoy the benefits of increased egg production and improved overall health.

So, don’t be afraid to give fermenting a try and see the difference it can make in your flock.

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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