We have been keeping chickens for about a 2.5 years now, so we are quite new to the chicken scene. They are a wonderful addition to our little homestead and have been fairly easy to take care of. Plus, they provide us with a small clutch of eggs most days.
Since I’m forever experimenting with different cultured foods in our kitchen, we have given them little bits of cultured foods here and there. Turns out, they really love some of them and, not surprisingly, the inherent bacteria in these cultured foods seem to compliment the chicken’s diet beautifully.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate fermented foods into your chickens’ diet.
Grains & Feed – Most chickens receive some ration of grains or bulk feed. You can ferment both, since most bulk feeds consist of various grains, seeds, and legumes.
For us this is as simple as combining grain and water in a bucket and allowing it to sit and ferment. We feed it to them at various stages of the process, from the earliest days to when it has fully fermented.
Clabber & Cultured Milks – This is a great use for that extra milk that you couldn’t eat up in time and has turned. Whether it is clabbered, or made into yogurt or kefir, this is a great protein source for chickens.
Scobys – I will often times throw the chickens a kombucha scoby, or kefir grains, when I have more than I can use. The scoby is a bit big and can be cut up. The chickens may not actually consume the whole thing but they have fun pecking at it and I imagine they are getting some benefit from that.
Vegetables – The great thing about having chickens around is that food never seems to go to waste. If your kraut turned mushy, throw it to the chickens. If you’ve got more pickles than you can eat, throw it to the chickens. Some people will actually make a special batch of kraut, including zucchini kraut, just for the chickens when there is a windfall of produce in the garden.
Those are just a few ideas for giving your chickens fermented foods. Do you feed your animals ferments?