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Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

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Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:59 pm


As this is dealing with other animals than rabbits I wasnt sure where to put it but as its butchering info, perhaps here is good. :D

In June I got a 50 pound bag each of corn, oats, wheat and field peas. All organic, shipped to me for my all grain, getting everything off of soy based pellet, feed experiment.

At the same time I got 8 old Pekin ducks, two PBPigs, 5 young roosters and 13 old hens.

We ate four of the ducks right away and while they were edible, they were VERY strong, almost too strong to eat.

Four weeks into feeding all grain I came across mention of fermenting the grains before feeding so we started that.

All one needs to do is put the grain into a container, add water, keep somewhere warm (no problems here in Florida) and give it a day or three. We scoop what we need from the bucket and replace with fresh grain daily. My daughter says it smells like vomit but all the animals, even the rabbits, have transitioned onto it really well.

Usually processing poultry and pigs is a rank and smelly job and even rabbits pong a bit on the inside. I have always just put up with it because the end product is so much better than anything I can buy.

So, fast forward to this week.

Biggest surprise of all was the ducks didnt smell bad when processing them, nor did the pig. Almost no smell at all and my hands, which usually stink for a few hours at least, smell of nothing much at all.

And the 5 year old Pekin drake tasted like a duckling, sweet and mild and tender!

Oh, and the pens dont smell either.

Cant wait to try the rabbit I have fattening but its coat is still shedding the sunburned fur off and I want the pelt in prime condition. Will let you know how it tastes when we get there.

The plus of feeding less feed of better quality is great but the change in the animals is amazing!

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#2  Unread postby alforddm » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:07 pm


That is great! I can't wait to hear how the rabbits do.

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#3  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:22 pm


Amazing results, GBov. :bouncy:

I hope you'll continue to give us updates as time goes on and your time allows. What all do you feed the rabbits now that they're getting the fermented grains? I'd also be interested to know the approximate ratios of feed types (hay, forage, fermented grains etc.) that you give them.
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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#4  Unread postby GBov » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:08 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Amazing results, GBov. :bouncy:

I hope you'll continue to give us updates as time goes on and your time allows. What all do you feed the rabbits now that they're getting the fermented grains? I'd also be interested to know the approximate ratios of feed types (hay, forage, fermented grains etc.) that you give them.


As all the buns are new to us fertility has been a bit of an issue, the buck is good but out of 7 solid mountings, only 3 litters have resulted. Of the three the dogs got all but one in the first litter, the doe failed to feed the second and the third is doing super. They are soooooo pretty!

But because of my concerns that the does were not getting enough of what ever it is they need, I am now giving them 2 to 3 ounces of fermented feed in the mornings and 2ish ounces of organic soy free rabbit pellets in the evenings. Grass hay free choice - not organic sadly, it doesnt exist here :roll: - and weeds, mostly spanish needle as its 4 ft high with all the rain.

I wanted to feed banana, cana lily, sweet potato and spineless prickly pear cactus as a large part of the diet but they are not growing fast enough to feed more than as a treat. The electric mower is great though, I can mow a quarter of the yard and just feed out of the grass catcher. That is usually once a week. Pure sand though grows crap grass, as a treat its fine but as a proper part of the diet? Not so much.

The fermented grain is equal parts corn, oats, wheat and field peas.

Everything, pigs, ducks, chickens, buns, lost weight at first and some of the rabbits went really quite skinny but once we started fermenting the grains and not feeding dry they all bounced back and are right butterballs now. The adult rabbits transitioned fine but the two young bunnies are still having stomach upset. They are growing fine so fingers crossed they finally get over the runny poos.

The ONE survivor of the dog attack eats ANYTHING. But as it had so much damage most of its energy went to healing instead of growing so I cant use it as an indicator on how well they will do long term on this feed.

Once the bag of pellets is fed I wont get any more but by then, we should be into the second generation on fermented grains so will be properly on the way to rabbits totally grain and garden fed.

Fried the pork liver and kidneys tonight for dinner and it was very mild and nice. Normally we dont much like pork liver but even it was good.

A funny thing though is that the FG fed animals seem to have less marrow in their bones. I usually put trotters, head and back bone in the stock pot and simmer very gently for about 8 hours, pick the meat off the bones to set aside for later and put the bones and skin back into the stock with a good glug of vinegar. Then that cooks for about 24 to 36 hours.

By then the bones are so soft they can be eaten so that is how I know the difference between the standard fed and the FG fed bones, the second ones are good but no where near as rich as the first. Odd huh?

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#5  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:29 pm


I was just wondering if your rabbits are still doing well on the fermented grains?

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#6  Unread postby GBov » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:44 pm


alforddm wrote:I was just wondering if your rabbits are still doing well on the fermented grains?


The ones we havn't eaten are all doing great on it. :D

I decided for now to just buy in meat rabbits, feed them for 8 weeks and then butcher as life is so hectic at the moment so the best Mini Rex went to 4H and we have been eating the rest.

Will have to get myself out bright and early in two weeks to the livestock swap/sale and get more but ordered the feed today to get a big batch fermenting so for a change I will be ahead of myself.

Gosh, that sounds so efficent. :lol:

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#7  Unread postby akane » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:34 am


Fermented feeds do digest far easier since for one the bonds to the nutrients are already partially broken, kind of like with sprouting when the grain itself takes the nutrients out of storage to use for growth, and also it has some of the enzymes and bacteria needed for digestion already present so the digestive tract doesn't have to do as much work, can absorb things faster, and needs a lot less bacteria and types. Part of the reason for a cecum and the practice of ingesting feces is because some things are absorbed best in an earlier part of the intestine than they can be processed into the individual nutrient for absorption from a whole, raw plant product. While it still doesn't cover everything with what is basically partially digested food you have more nutrients available and the things needed to keep breaking them down right at the start of the digestive tract so more can be absorbed and again less work for the rest of the digestive tract with less wasted. Aside from a few health conditions (I just got told not to eat miso when I already can't have dairy so was using it to avoid yogurt :/ ) adding at least a little fermented food really is a benefit to pretty much every human and animal.

However, it's never stuck with simple stomach herbivores very well because they are so sensitive to the risk of something going wrong and mold appearing you can wipe out everything in one accident unlike cows, omnivores (hogs, poultry, etc...), and carnivores that have more ways to handle the bacteria imbalance and temporary inflammation without the digestive tract just failing and/or toxins spreading from the excess bacteria to do damage. The last one being the current suspected cause of founder or laminitis in horses. Digestive upset and resulting excessive toxins overwhelm sensitive tissue that includes the laminae holding the hoof wall (like your nail) to the living part (your finger underneath) and it dies but with a thousand pounds on a structure held together by those little fibers it can be a death sentence instead of just a lost nail and a finger you don't use for awhile. When you go from small batches for a few small, relatively short lived herbivores to bulk quantities for large livestock or large production farms of more goat/sheep type livestock the risk is often not even worth fermented hay/grass type products that have a lower chance of problems than grains. In those situations one incident and people get downright paranoid of creating the conditions on purpose that could grow those toxic compounds so the practice has just never developed a good enough method for many people to even suggest fermented feeds for simple herbivores.
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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#8  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:39 am


although I have tried fodder,and raising greens and root crops for rabbits, i have never tried "fermenting" rabbit feed, it is an interesting study for me- one I have thought about from time to time but never tried- as a kid i found out that rabbits would eat silage , and do "OK"[survive] , but only if it was very fresh with no off color clumps in it. [cows didn't seem to mind eating the off color clumps, but rabbits acted sick after eating them] As a kid, I didn't understand nutrition very well at all, so the rabbits did not get everything they needed with this "experiment",- so, they did not grow nearly as fast, or look as healthy, as the rabbits that were fed hay, greens,food scraps, and roots. So, although I could feed silage free, i stuck with what was working for me at the time...
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Truckinguy » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:21 pm


For years I was feeding my chickens a mix of scratch grains and layer pellets and they would root through the mixture to get what they liked and there would be considerable wastage. A couple of years ago I started fermenting the scratch grains and putting them out separate from the layer pellets. The chickens gobble up the fermented grains like they're candy and still eat the layer pellets but the reduction in wastage is significant. They don't even root through the grains, they just gobble up what's there and then clean up the ground around the feed trough.

Aside from the nutritional benefits, the hulls on the grains are softer allowing easier digestion and the grains absorb considerable moisture which helps the birds stay hydrated on hot days. There are also additional vitamins created in the fermenting process although I don't have the information in front of me and my memory isn't what it was.

I have considered trying my rabbits on it but haven't as of yet.

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Re: Fermented feed for our livestock made a HUGE difference

Post Number:#10  Unread postby GBov » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:47 pm


As shipping adds so much to the cost of the organic feed I buy I have narrowed it down to scratch grain and duck grower feed mix. It gives me the max amount of protein and feed ingredients for the least amount of money so I mix the two up and ferment together.

So far it works great. We sadly lost our pet bunny who's poo I would use to give new rabbits the gut flora to digest the feed but by a fluke, we have one other rabbit who has been on the fermented feed for 4 weeks so I can use his poo now for any new ones.

I found it took about 9 weeks for rabbits to start digesting the fermented feed properly but by adding crumbled up fresh poo from a rabbit that is on it, new rabbits transition onto it without any gut problems.

This week there is a silkie rooster, a guinea pig and a pot belly pig to go into the freezer, all of which have been on the fermented feed for between 6 to 16 weeks.

After so long using the soak water again and again, it doesnt even smell so bad any more, like a really ripe cheese. You are right about the way animals dive into it, they all just about attack the hand that feeds just to reach the buckets!

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