Friday, November 16, 2012

Ask Bee - Fermented Feed = Less-Smell in Chicken Waste

Dear Bee –
One thing I've heard from people using fermented feed that they note the lack of bad smells in the coop/bedding. Why is this?

Bee’s Answer:

That is a great side effect of using the FF, but I think it's important to mention that it is merely a side effect and the physiology behind why it is happening is a much more important and desirable goal.

This means that there is better bowel health due to more villi being present in the bowel.  More villi means more blood supply, which results in better nutrient absorption from the available feeds passing through the small intestine.  The fermentation of the feed before consumption also changes some of the feed ingredients, allowing it to be better digested and absorbed by a monogastric animal such as a chicken.

To put it simply; the food is being used instead of passing through the bowel without being fully digested.  The bird is getting more benefit from the feed which reduces the amount of feed required by the bird.  This translates into saving pennies that grow into dollars over the long haul. 

The introduction of good live cultures also helps inhibit the overgrowth of more harmful pathogens such as salmonella, coccidia, e.coli, etc.  Your chickens will have better health overall. 

Yet another good side effect of having this healthier bowel structure, blood supply, and good bacteria is a decrease in parasite infestation.  The more digestive enzymes there are, the better the digestive action is. This creates a “hostile environment” for parasites, and thus they can not thrive inside your chickens.  Parasites thrive better in an unhealthy bird with an unhealthy bowel. 

This is important to know when you are thinking of de-worming your chickens:   One has to ask, “How did my chickens' health get to such a state that it has an infestation?”  Take care of your chickens’ health and the other problems ~ visible worms being shed in the feces, etc. ~ will right themselves.  All mammals have a parasite present in their bodies/bowels, but you will rarely see evidence of it in the fecal matter unless there is an overgrowth.  When is the last time you looked in your toilet and saw long, white worms in your poop?  This does not mean you have no worms, it merely means you have them but you are not infested with a large population of them. 

Same with chickens.  It's expected that chickens will have some level of intestinal parasites, but never enough to affect their health or production.  All animals have them and they thrive anyway.  The key is not to try to get all the worms out of your chickens ~ if the conditions are that lovely for their infestation, they'll just be back.  Rather, the goal should be to create such a healthy chicken that the worms can not get a foothold inside them and colonize enough to cause problems.

Fermented feed (see our Fermented Feed how-to Here) has so many benefits that I can really see no down side to it and I know that the decreased smell of the feces is the most obvious, but that lack of smell is just a sign of the many other benefits of this method of feeding.  

Bee -


  1. Quote: "To put it simply; the food is being used instead of passing through the bowel without being fully digested"

    It has always bothered me that we feed animals things that they can't digest in the first place.

    Chickens and humans are a lot alike in this - without fermenting or soaking and sprouting, we are unable to digest much of the nutrition in seeds (grains), nuts, or legumes. Additionally, soaking/sprouting and/or fermenting reduces the phytic acid present in these items which is an "anti-nutrient" that can rob our bodies of other valuable nutrients in the process, thus contributing to even lower nutritional availability.

    Thanks so much for the focus on the ff! It is a wonderful addition to good animal husbandry for our chickensT


  2. You found another gem! Thank you for posting this....every day adds to the good info on this site. Keep it coming!

  3. This site is becoming a great source of info, easy to find and understand. Great job!!!!

  4. This is a great summary of the advantages of feeding fermented feed! All my chickens and ducks love it and I know they are doing better on less food = $ saved!

  5. Again, I want to thank you for putting this info out there in such an organized manner!!

  6. I started using the ff as soon as I read about it on Bees thread,early November. I noticed reduced feed usage and far less waste with my young chicks. I switched back last week because they were not eating it. I think it had over fermented and developed a mold. Now food use is way up again! I started a new batch last night, not going to make as much at on time! They are growing so fast; I want optimum health, feather growth, bone and muscle development going into the winter.. great post as all have been!


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