Feed & Fines – Maximizing Value with Fermented Feed!

Feed & Fines – Maximizing Value with Fermented Feed!

Fermented-feed-scratch-peck-chickensOne of the most frequently asked questions we hear is, “Why are there all these fines in your feed and how do I get my chickens to eat it?”

This question is important as it identifies one of our core philosophies as a company; we believe that a raw, whole grain feed is nutritionally superior to highly processed products. Most mills producing poultry feed use a combination of heat and water to process their products into pellets and further into pellet crumbles, reducing the shelf life and nutrient content of the grains, unless preservatives are added. At Scratch and Peck Feeds, we focus on providing a product that is as raw and natural as possible; something we feed our own animals.

The ‘fines’ in our balanced organic feeds consist of the added protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals that support an animal’s health and development. Although fines can sometimes accumulate, many of our customers feed our products dry, as is, without issue. Recommendations for helping the flock to eat all the fines include: Adding the accumulated fines to the top of the newly added feed, using a trough style feeder rather than a gravity feeder, raising the feeder to the height of the bird’s back, collecting fines to include in yogurt or an oatmeal treat, or simply adding moisture to the mix prior to feeding to help the fines bind to the whole grains. For even better results, we recommend going a bit further and fermenting the feed!

Fermenting Scratch and Peck feedsLacto-fermentation has been used for thousands of years for human and animal nutrition. Lactic acid bacteria, like the probiotics you find in Greek yogurt, is beneficial in making the feed easier for the chickens to digest and it improves the overall bioavailable nutrients. Fermented feed can have increased levels of Vitamins B, C and K, along with increased protein as well! Higher levels of digestible protein can can also help with egg production.

The simple process of soaking the organic whole grains before feeding helps to release the stored nutrients by breaking the dormancy in the now softened whole grains. With nutrients that are more readily available, fermenting the feed requires less feed per serving. Whether fed daily or used as a treat, the fermenting process for Scratch and Peck poultry feeds is as easy as adding water and letting the feed soak for approximately 3 days, depending on climate. Really – it’s just that simple! Nature has the amazing ability to create complex nutrients from very simple ingredient combinations. As an added bonus, providing wet, fermented feed instead of dry feed helps your flock with better water management as less additional water will be needed for the digestion process!

Getting Started: Container Selection –

To get started with fermenting feed, choose containers based on the number of birds you are feeding. If you have a smaller flock, you will likely do just fine using quart or half-gallon sized Mason jars, or even a repurposed water pitcher. Our Sprout-Ferment Starter Kit includes a 32-oz Mason jar, which is ideal for small backyard flocks. If you have a larger flock, food grade buckets or bins will be a better choice once you get the hang of the fermenting process. Many small production growers have had success with modified 55 gallon drums where they pop in PVC piping as spigot to easily fill a trough with fermented feed. Make sure the container you choose has a lid that can be loosely fitted. As CO₂ gases are a natural by-product of the fermentation process, the fermenting feed should never be tightly sealed or pressure will build up, damaging the container and creating a potentially explosive mess. Whatever type of container is chosen, some experimenting will be necessary to get the best results as the fermentation process will be faster in warmer environments and much slower if it is cold.

Make sure the fermenting feed is completely covered in water!

Mad Scientist: Chicken Feed Mixology –

Once a container has been selected, measure out the estimated amount your flock will consume in one day and place it into the container. (We estimate an adult chicken will consume approximately 1/3 lb of dry feed per day.) Add unchlorinated water at two parts per one part feed. Make sure to leave room in the container because the mixture will expand. Especially for the first few batches, it is important to check the mixture after 30 minutes to make sure there is enough water to cover the feed after initial absorption. Once the ferment batch has been prepared, move the container to an area with a consistent, moderate temperature away from sun exposure. For the next 3 days (more or less depending on the temperature), let the mixture sit with a loose fitting cover, stirring the mix once a day. You will know the fermenting process is working when little bubbles start appearing on the surface.



Mixing prior to feeding is important! Fermented feed will naturally settle into layers with fines at the top.

Picky Chicky: Feeding Consistency and Feeder Type

After a couple days, the fermented feed should smell slightly sour, which is a good indication that the process has been effective and is ready to serve to your flock. Before feeding, check the texture of the ferment. If you end up with a soupy mix, simply add a little bit of dry feed to thicken it. Ideally, the texture will be closer to clumpy than runny. A trough feeder or open bowl is best to use for feeding a fermented mash rather than a gravity style feeder.

While many birds will have no problem transitioning to fermented feed, we do hear from time to time that some owners may have a difficult time convincing their flock to eat wet feed and may choose to stay with a dry feed. Even chickens have opinions and can get set in their ways! Fermenting feed may not work for every flock or situation, and that is totally okay! Even served dry, our feeds are balanced and nutritious.

Fermenting - Feed soaked 3 days

Feed Fermented for 3 Days

Fermenting - Feed soaked 3 hours

Feed Soaked for 3 Hours

Fermenting - Dry Feed

Dry Feed

Fermenting Feed Tips:

• Start small. Even if you have a large flock, practice with a small batch or two to get a feel for the ferment process and feeding texture before moving on to using larger containers.
• Do not use chlorinated water. If you only have access to chlorinated water, fill a container with just the water and leave it sitting on a counter for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate.
• Always use clean containers and stirring implements when you first begin the process to prevent mold and contamination. Once a successful ferment occurs, reusing the same container will allow the active microbes from the previous batch to assist in making the next batch.
• Do not put fermenting feed in a sealed container.
• For best results and to prevent mold, make sure there is enough water to cover feed during fermentation process.
• Stir or shake the fermenting feed mixture once a day.
• Can’t tell if it’s fermenting? During the fermenting process, small bubbles will move up through the mix. If there are no bubbles occurring, try adding more water as the consistency may be too thick.
• Mixing prior to feeding is important as fermented feed will naturally settle with fines at the top and heavier ingredients at the bottom.
• Feed with cracked grains, like Naturally Free Organic Starter, will absorb more water than a whole grain mash product and may involve more trial and error to get the best results.
• Don’t worry – the couple of days it takes to lacto-ferment the feed will not lead to intoxicated chickens! Lactic acid fermentation is not the same as alcoholic fermentation.

Download our Fermenting Feed Guide.

Originally Posted April 2015

Post updated October 2018


  1. Patty December 11, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I love this they are eating their food again!

  2. Nostalrius December 12, 2016 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Really cool article. I read your posts all the time and you always do a good job articulating
    the whatever topic you’re writing about. Btw, I shared this on LinkedIn and my followers loved it.
    Keep up the great work!

  3. Brandi Morgan January 8, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    This may be a silly question but do you have to use the fermented feed right away or can it sit a few more days? I guess what I’m wondering is can you make a big batch to last a few days or should I be making a new batch every day?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Brandi,

      Once a ferment is done, you want to serve it right away. It is best to underestimate how much ferment is needed and just feed some additional dry if more is needed. The next time you ferment, do a little more until you dial in how much your flock needs. You can then hone in your rotation of containers so you always have a batch that is ready to serve into a trough and just fill back up with more feed and water to sit until fully fermented.

  4. Wan Chang-Hamachi January 17, 2017 at 8:29 am - Reply

    My girls love their fermented feed and they prefer it on the drier side so I strain the feed before serving. Also, in winter, below freezing temperatures tend to freeze the clumpy feed they don’t eat right away so I make sure to really strain the feed. I re-use the fermenting liquid several times but after a while it gets really thick and starts smelling as if it is “turning”. My instinct is to discard it and start over with fresh water yet that seems like such a waste of good fermented pasty liquid.

    Do you have suggestions on how to use that pasty liquid?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 17, 2017 at 8:51 am - Reply

      Hi Wan,

      Good question. The best way to get the right texture when feed is fermented is to add some dry feed if it is too runny. You want it to be a gravy or cooked oatmeal texture. You can then add more feed and water to the same container you were fermenting the feed in to start the process over again. It’s like a sourdough starter that way. You might be able to cut down on the initial amount you are fermenting then to ensure that you aren’t fermenting too much at once. Once a ferment is ready, you will want to serve it all that day for freshness. Let us know if you have other questions!

  5. Wan January 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Hi and thank you for your response.

    I think what is causing my fermenting liquid to thicken fast is not only the quantity I am fermenting but the presence of those delicious fines some of which I am losing so I am happy to try your suggestion. The sourdough analogy is very helpful.

    As an alternative method, could I strain and save the fines, ferment the feed, and add the fines back right before serving?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 18, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      We recommend fermenting everything together. You could strain the fines before fermenting, but you should be able to ferment fines and grains all together. You’d then have a lovely texture to serve to your chickens that they will love and you won’t be left with any waste.

  6. Erin Nicole Smeeding January 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I have started to use a nut milk straining bag to drain my fermented feed and it works really well. My girls will not touch the fermented food if it is too runny. You can really squeeze excess water out of the seed and the fines stay, it makes a sort of cake. I reserve a small amount of the previous ferment liquid (couple tablespoons) for the next batch to cultivate the wild yeasts in the air. We recently ran out of feed early before the next bag arrived (the chickens were eating thier ‘reserve’ feed which is just in case we run out) so I had to discard the ferment water and I noticed that when I started again I was not getting the same level of fermentation as quickly. In a few weeks I will have a good batch running again, I also use the three jar system with a three day ferment period.
    Overall the nut milk straining bag was the key to get my chickens to eat fermented feed.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 23, 2017 at 6:58 am - Reply

      Ah, that is a great technique to know about. If the feed is too runny after the ferment, you can also just add some dry feed into the ferment to get it to the right texture before feeding. Whatever method is easiest, that’s the ticket. So glad to hear you are fermenting, Erin! Your girls are getting so many extra nutrients, and so are you from their eggs!

    • Steph March 27, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

      I would think that you are losing the water soluble nutrients if you are soaking and then straining the feed, no? I think that’s why just adding in a bit more dry feed to get the consistency right is a better option.

  7. John January 27, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

    At what age can you start fermenting the feed? I’m a newbie and getting chicks in a few weeks…….

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 30, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Hi John, good question! You can start fermenting right away with baby chicks — make sure you’re using the appropriate feed for the age group (Naturally Free Starter for your chicks). Ferment very small amounts if feeding to chicks as you want to feed and serve what you ferment the day it is ready. You could always feed a container of fermented feed in a container right next to dry feed — that way they get exposed to and receive the nutritional benefits the fermented feed and have access to dry feed if they need more food. Congrats on joining the chicken club! Feel free to email if you have questions along the way: info@scratchandpeck.com.

    • Anne December 1, 2017 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      I have been fermenting the chick food since they were 2.5 weeks old. The first day, only one tried it and then after that, they all gobble it up and peep for more!

  8. Megan January 31, 2017 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Would this work for Muscovy ducklings as well?

  9. Edith Emerson February 25, 2017 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Can I add DE to the fermented ready to feed once a month for worming? I add it to my dry feed but would like to add to the fermented product. I would add it the day I feed it.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds February 28, 2017 at 5:42 am - Reply

      Hi Edith, good question. Yes, you can add DE to fermented feed just like you would to dry feed.

  10. Madeline April 10, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    How much would you suggest making for 6 baby chicks and do you screw lid on jar tight?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds April 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      We’d recommend starting with one cup of feed for the chicks and adjusting as needed once you get a gauge on the amount of fermented feed. You don’t want to screw the lid on tight — keep it loose. CO₂ gasses are a natural by-product of the fermentation process and pressure will build up, damaging the container and creating a potentially explosive mess!

  11. Sara H. April 13, 2017 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Just got our six chicks yesterday! (My first time, ever, having chickens!) Your feed arrived today (we were feeding a name brand organic feed until it arrived), and I just read this article. I started a batch right away!! We have been making kombucha for ourselves, and I feel this is very similar. I used a quart jar and just put a piece of cloth over the top and then screwed on the jar ring to keep it in place. Looking forward to feeding this to them – they really went to town on the dry food when I mixed Scratch N Peck’s Starter in with what they had been eating! Thank you!

  12. wandonlang April 15, 2017 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Hi I am wandon,right now am having 24nos of layers.Every day I used to give .120gm/bird/day so if I apply this process of yours then how much I have to add the feed?will it be lesser then before?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Hi Wandon, with dry feed, you typically use about .3 lbs (or 3/4 – 1 cup of dry feed) per bird per day. When fermented, the whole grain absorb the water and the nutrients in the grains also increase. You will still feed the chickens about 1 cup of fermented feed (again, per bird per day), but because of the increased water and nutrient intake, you are using less feed per meal than if you were feeding the birds dry feed.

  13. wandonlang April 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your respond and my layers they seem to love this new way of feeding alot.Next month I’ll bring new batch of layers total 60nos of them they will be one month old I want to know if its fine to introduce with this process of feeding right away?

  14. Regina kennedy May 2, 2017 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Hi, what are “fines,” and can I ferment crumble feed? I think I attempted some fermented feed last year, and my chickens liked it, but didn’t keep up with it. The store I buy my chicken feed from, normally, said they didn’t see much benefit from it. Are there any recipes that add salt, like when we humans add sea salt to fermenting vegetables?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds May 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Regina! Thanks for getting in touch and great questions.

      The “fines” – is what we refer to as all the items in the feed that are not the whole grains. It is still super nutritious and matter that is important for the animals to eat and why we recommend fermenting so that none of those fines get wasted. It can be a mix of vitamins and minerals, flax and sesame.

      Whole grain and unprocessed feed works best for fermenting. Most pellets and crumbles are a mix of highly processed grains that have been broken down into meals – not the best option for fermenting. The easiest way to get an active ferment started is to either activate probiotics by adding water to a feed or to add an item that has live cultures like whey or yogurt. Scratch and Peck adds probiotics to our feed so all you need to do is add water and a little time and you will have a nice active fermented feed.

      We think there is tremendous benefit from fermenting feed. There are many studies on the benefits of adding good bacterias for optimal gut health, but it doesn’t stop there. Fermenting feed also has these benefits – no wasted feed, reduce the amount of feed you use by about 30%, increases the protein level of the feed, reduces manure odor, reduces water management as animals are consuming water with their feed, just to highlight a few.

      Starting a ferment with salt is an excellent option when fermenting vegetables. Because we add probiotics in the feed, just adding water is the best option to get a nice active ferment.

  15. Kalee June 14, 2017 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    I love this article! Very helpful. I am curious though, I have dairy goats too. Recently my one doe no longer wants to eat the grain. She was wasting all the fines so I started adding water to combine ingredients which did work until recently. I tried sprouting the grain but have not had much success because I don’t have a great setup for it at the moment. I’m just curious what I can do to help my goats eat this wonderful grain. Thanks in advance.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds June 15, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Hi Kalee, glad to hear you enjoyed the article! Sorry to hear that you have a picky doe. We have a couple of questions we’re hoping you can help with. You mention adding water to the feed and that worked for a while. Where you getting a true ferment or just mixing in water to mix the fines in with the grains? You also mention sprouting the grains. Were you trying to sprout or ferment the feed? Animals really enjoy the taste of a fully fermented feed and you could get a totally different reaction than to feed that has been wetted down. They do also enjoy sprouted grains, but sprouting does take a bit of a set up. We find fermenting to be an easy setup and process. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  16. nolongernurse@yahoo.com June 17, 2017 at 8:10 am - Reply

    I have a mixed flock 2 chooks and 2 ducks I have “free” fed them since I have had them having a 3 gallon feeding bucket. I know my ducks eat more than the chooks so how do I start feeding the fermented way? Thanks for all the GREAT information and I can’t wait to get my new products for my girls… also I want to start a grass patch for them since our area is mostly clay and very little grass. How is the best way to do this and where would I get quality grains to grow? Any suggestions??

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds June 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Hello, you may want to start small with fermenting to get an idea of how much your ducks and chooks will eat. You can follow the instructions in this blog post to kick off the process and have some fun experimenting with smaller quantities before moving onto the larger gallon buckets. Regarding the grass patch — we do have 10 lbs bags of Cluckin’ Good Organic Wheat and Cluckin’ Good Organic Barley available. They are ideal for sprouting to get some fresh greens for your flock. You can learn more about sprouting, and how to do it, here: https://www.scratchandpeck.com/sprouting-for-feed-or-fun/.

  17. Martina June 27, 2017 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Hi there. I’m the proud mom to my first two chicks, now 8wks old… waited 30years for them!! (32, but who’s counting?) I’m very interested in your feeds and the fermenting process. My question is does fermenting change the digestibility of the feed that much? Reason I’m asking is that I live in HOT & HUMID Florida and have been reading that scratch type feeds are advised against in hot weather as it takes longer to digest, which raises body temps. With these two being my first and also being so young, I’m very cautious. Would love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks!!

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds June 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Martina — welcome to the world of being a chicken mama! So excited for you! For warm/hot weather, you do want to be cautious of feeding your birds foods that will cause body temps to raise, such as corn. Corn is a carbohydrate that will increase body temp during digestion. Our feeds are whole grain and our Naturally Free line of feeds (Naturally Free Organic Starter, Grower, or Layer) do not contain corn. Fermenting our feeds is actually beneficial in summer months because the fermented whole grains absorb water, which then helps chickens stay hydrated (you always want to have fresh water for them every day, whether you’re fermenting your feeds or not). Hydration is essential. You can read a bit more about what to feeds your gals during different times of the year here: https://www.scratchandpeck.com/protein-vs-carbohydrates-the-when-why-and-how-to/. Let us know if you have other questions!

  18. Stephen Cyr-Paulson July 10, 2017 at 5:24 am - Reply

    My chickens love your feed, and I love the health benefits and that they no longer waste any now that I’m fermenting it. We are going on a 3 week trip this fall. Can I ferment quantities of feed in advance and freeze the strained daily servings so our chicken-sitter can put one out daily without learning the process?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds July 10, 2017 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Hello and thanks for the kind words! We’re happy to hear that you’ve delved into fermenting! Regarding your question, you can ferment and freeze ahead of time. You don’t need to strain the daily servings, though. Instead you can just have your chicken sitter stir in some dry feed to the thawed fermented feed to ensure it is thick enough, but all fines are mixed in. Just a heads-up that the ferment might change texture after sitting in the freezer and then thawing out, so we’d recommend doing a test and see what texture you get.

      • Kelly July 2, 2018 at 9:04 am - Reply

        Hi! I just ordered your grower food for my girls. They love it and I am so excited about feeding them something I feel good about! I have started to ferment their food and love reading all of these great comments. I am interested to know if I could freeze a batch I fermented and made too much? I hate to throw it out, and I didn’t even consider freezing it until I read the above comment. Also, living in the south, it seems like giving the girls a few frozen food treats might be a great idea to help them beat this summer time heat. Would they still recieve the same nutritional benefits once its been frozen? Id like to fill up some ice cube trays and offer it to them as a frozen snack!

        • Scratch and Peck Feeds July 5, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

          Hi Kelly, thank you for the kind words! While freezing the ferment is an option, and a great way to provide a cool treat on hot days, it may decrease the nutritional benefits. But as along as you’re providing a healthy ferment along with the frozen treats, they should receive the nutrients they need. Just make sure not to overfeed them with their meals and frozen treats!

  19. Willow July 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I’m so excited to find this how to and start fermenting my chicks food. Currently I have seven birds ages 10-13 weeks…if I understand correctly a grown hen would consume 1 cup per day so should I estimate less For my birds? Also is this something that I would free feed or feed morning and night only? Thanks!

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds July 17, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Wonderful! Yes, you’ll want to estimate less feed for your birds if you’re fermenting because the feed will expand when it absorbs the water. You can feed your flock in the morning and night. Good questions!

  20. Debby August 26, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Hi there – we ferment our scratch n peck feed to our girls all the time. My question is, how many times can we re-use the strained water from the mash? So far, we use it about three times then dump the water and start over again with fresh declorinated water. How many times can we use the used water?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds August 28, 2017 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Hi Debby,

      As long as the water itself does not become contaminated, it is continuously usable. Think of it like a sourdough starter that helps kick off the next batch. Smell the water when a batch is ready to get a sense of what the ferment should smell like. If it develops an off odor at all, it’s time to start fresh. Rule of thumb, if there’s any doubt, throw it out.

  21. Gary September 1, 2017 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Can you give an approximate adjustment for feeding pigs dry vs fermented in weight/ In other words, if I was feeding 8# dry, can I reduce that to 6# dry before fermenting for equivalence?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds September 5, 2017 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Hi Gary,

      You are correct in that you will use less dry feed if you ferment it. That is because the feed absorbs water, plus more nutrients are released from the grain during the fermenting process. You may want to start with a little less dry feed — maybe 5# — and see how the consistency is once it’s fermented. You can always add a little more dry feed to the fermented feed if it ends up too watery. It’ll be a little bit of trial and error until you hone in on the correct amount of dry feed to ferment for your pigs, but start small and go from there.

  22. Christina September 19, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

    Hi S&P
    I have ducks and they don’t care for the cracked corn we supplement with in the winter to help keep them warm during extra cold nights. Can I ferment the scratch and corn mix to make it more appealing? Since it would not be their main food source, just an additional winter treat, what would be a good amount to start with per duck?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds September 20, 2017 at 7:53 am - Reply

      Hi Christina,

      That is a great question! We don’t have probiotics added to our Scratch n’ Corn, so we recommend adding 1 Tbsp of whey, yogurt or raw apple cider vinegar to the Scratch, plus water to get a ferment culture started. Fermenting our Scratch ‘n corn is a great idea!

  23. Brian Gombe September 24, 2017 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Would the results be the same if I fermented corn and soy beans, then later dry them and grind them and mix them? Or the grinding should happen first then fermenting to follow? I’m asking because I’m thinking some ingredients may dissolve in the water and make it less of a balanced ration. Thanks

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds September 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Brian, fermenting unlocks nutrients in the whole grains, plus incorporates any of the fines that may have separated out during transport. When you feed your flock fermented grains, you will feed them the entire ferment, water and all, giving your birds not only the balanced ration of feed, but additional nutrients. A corn or soy bean diet wouldn’t provide them with the balanced ration that they need.

  24. Alicia Cutler November 3, 2017 at 8:53 am - Reply

    I have been fermenting the chickens feed since I got them in April. I live in Montana and the weather can get to 20 below zero. I ordered the feed with corn for the winter to help them stay warm. Should I continue to ferment their feed in the winter? Will it freeze?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds November 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Alicia, first off — Yay to your fermenting! Ordering the feed with the added corn is a good idea since corn will help create energy during digestion (and therefore warmth). You can continue to ferment during the winter, but if the fermented feed is left out in freezing temperatures, it will freeze. So it depends on how quickly your chickens eat it. If you can devise a way to keep the fermenting feed above freezing, it is good to continue fermenting in the winter. If not, go with the dry feed and your chickens will still get nutrients that they need on top of what they get from free ranging.

  25. Todd & Kristine January 20, 2018 at 4:44 am - Reply

    Thanks, Scratch and Peck folks! May we feed the nutrition-saturated water to our flock, instead of fresh-water? Or as a fresh-water supplement? If not, why? Again, thanks!

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds January 22, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

      Hello Todd & Kristine, it sounds like there may be too much water being added to the ferment. When fermenting feed, the ratio of feed and water should be enough that the grains absorb the bulk of the water. If you are having excess water when fermenting, you could just add a little extra dry feed to get the right texture. Rule of thumb: Fresh water and fermented feed is best to avoid any risk of harmful bacteria building up.

  26. rqila February 12, 2018 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the tons of info. You are shaming me into learning more about what to feed my rescue chickens who are getting healthier by the day. Fermented food works well for us upright two-legged monsters, I guess there’s no reason a little pre-digestion shouldn’t work well for chickens too. Pre-digestion + digestees (microbes) ….

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds February 13, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Ha! Shaming isn’t our aim, but we are certainly thrilled to hear that you love your chickens (and that they’re rescues!)

  27. Alison Cat March 18, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Hi, my girls LOVE the fermented feed. Is this something I can do every day? I’ve noticed one of my girls “poop” has been a little soft/runny since the change. Could this be from extra protein/salt from the fish meal? Is this cause for concern or normal? I usually feed it to them slightly strained as they don’t mind the excess liquid.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Hi Alison! Thank you for reaching out. You can feed your flock fermented feed every day. The protein boost comes from the grains — fermenting increases the bioavailability of them (essentially, releases more nutrients). Although we do recommend fermenting our feeds, some chickens may not adjust to the diet — changes to the diet may cause changes in the consistency of their poop. It should normalize out if she keeps with it. Adding in either Cluckin’ Good Herbs or your own fresh herbs if you grow them can help too. Definitely keep an eye on your chicken, though, and if she doesn’t seem to adjust to the fermented feed, it simply may not be for her. Also make sure you’re always feed fresh fermented feed, and not letting it sit out for days once it’s finished fermenting.

  28. Maya March 27, 2018 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Is it harmful to my hens if I give them the fermented feed before it’s completely done fermenting?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds March 27, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Maya, it definitely isn’t harmful, but it’s not as beneficial. You’re essentially just giving partially-fermented feed, or perhaps even just feed mixed with water before any of the fermenting begins. Mixing some water with the dry feed will help incorporate the fines, which contain a lot of nutrients, but not letting the feed ferment fully won’t give the full boost of nutrients available within the grains.

  29. Anthony April 4, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Hi I was just wondering if we still need to provide the chickens with grit if feeding fermented food, since it’s already softened.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds April 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Anthony — that is a great question! Yes, always provide grit for your flock. Since chickens don’t have teeth, the grit ensures that food is broken down for digestion in their system.

  30. Michele Robinson April 19, 2018 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    I am a newbie and I am learning a lot by reading all the comments. Thank you.
    My question is, I bought 3 chicks now about three months old and was told to feed them on crumbles. I bought a 25lbs bag, so there is plenty left. Should I continue feeding it to them to the end then start tthe Scratch and Peck feed or give them a mixture of the two with maybe fermenting in between?
    By the way, I live in South Florida.
    Thank you.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds April 23, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Michele, thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping! Regarding switching to our feed, you can try moving directly to our Naturally Free Organic Grower feed, but you may need to mix your current feed with our feed to let your birds adapt to the new flavor and texture. Since your birds are three months old, they’re beyond the age of our Naturally Free Organic Starter, so old enough to receive our Grower. Because crumble feeds are more processed, they’re not ideal for fermenting. Fermenting is great for whole grain feeds, where the natural state of the grains has been retained. We’d recommend getting your flock transitioned to our Grower first, then test out fermenting for them to see if they enjoy that too. Make sure to also feed Grower Grit free choice to your flock to help them digest the whole grains. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  31. Patricia May 8, 2018 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    So… Sprouts or Fermented or Both?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds May 9, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Hi Patricia, you can ferment our feeds, and sprout our organic whole grains (wheat, oats, barley, and peas). Both processes further the nutritional value of the grains for your flock.

  32. Martha May 15, 2018 at 6:48 am - Reply

    I have the same question….. ferment or germinate? And although I know you can do both I would like to know if there is an advantage of one over the other? And what they are. Thanks

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds May 17, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

      Hi Martha, we recommend both — fermenting our feeds and sprouting our organic whole grains. Both increase the bioavailability of nutrients in the grains. Fermenting can also require less feed per serving because the grains expand, and sprouting can offer fresh greens during winter months. You can read more about sprouting here: https://www.scratchandpeck.com/sprouting-for-feed-or-fun/. Let us know if you have other questions!

  33. Luda June 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Hi there. I love that your feed is GMO & soy free, + organic. For the 1st time, I have bought your layer feed and have questions about fermentation & sprouting process. I have read many articles from your site & l am slightly confused. Under this article above, it talks about fermenting up to 3 days, but do l need to rinse the water daily or keep it in the same water WITHOUT changing it for 3 days?

    On this sprouting guide: https://www.scratchandpeck.com/wp-content/uploads/How-to-Sprout-Scratch-and-Peck-Organic-Whole-Grains-2017-2.pdf
    it talks about soaking grains UP TO 24 hours. This is where l got confused, am l supposed to soak/ferment layer feed only for 24hrs or 3 days? And then l would like to try sprouting.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds June 19, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Hi Luda — thanks for getting in touch! It sounds like some lines are being crossed with the steps for fermenting and the steps for sprouting, so let’s uncross those lines. We’ll start with fermenting: Our feeds can be fermented (Naturally Free Organic Starter, Grower, Layer, Broiler, and any of our livestock feeds). For fermenting, you are keeping the feed submerged with non-chlorinated water for the entire process — the same water that you initially added. No rinsing or draining with fermenting, just soaking for up to three days. For sprouting, use our Organic Sprouting Grains (we have wheat, oats, peas, and barley available). Soak the Organic Sprouting Grains for up to 24 hours to break seed dormancy, then drain the water out of the container. After that initial 24-hour soak, you do not want the sprouting grains to be sitting in water because they may mold if kept submerged. Just rinse twice a day and drain all the water out until sprouts begin to appear. Let us know if that answers your question. If not, give us a call (360.318.7585) and we are happy to walk you through both processes!

  34. Angie Hunt June 16, 2018 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Hi! I’m fermenting my first batch for my hens, and I know they’re going to love it. How do I know? I’m in Florida, and right after my pullets arrived, we had a summer rain. I was using a hanging feeder at the time, and apparently rainwater got into the feeder. I let the girls out of their coop, and they all ran over to the feeder and began to eat as though they were starving! I had never seen them eat so enthusiastically, almost frantically! I couldn’t figure out why, so I sat down to think, and that’s when I realized the feed smelled sour. It had gotten wet and fermented overnight! (It’s really HOT here.). LOL! I did find myself wondering if I’d have drunk chickens, but they ate every bit of that feed and loved it. That’s when I decided I had to try fermentation. Thank you, Scratch and Peck, for caring about my chickens . . . and everyone else’s. 🙂

  35. Tammy Lee June 24, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Hi there! Our girls love your feed. We have three 2-month old pullets, and two 1-week old chicks. We started with four initially but just found out that one of “girls”… was actually a roo. Since our city doesn’t allow roosters, we had to find him a new home. Now we’ve got two baby sexlinks so hopefully we’re in for a full flock once everyone gets introduced 🙂

    Two questions then! We’re interested in fermenting but have super ridiculous schedules.

    We were planning to move the older girls to Grower feed and off Starter, but now that we’ve got two new babies, we need to keep Starter around. Do we need to have two separate fermentation batches for each group… one for the chicks, and one for the pullets?

    Also, in the event that we get too busy to ferment, is it okay to offer dry feed instead?

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Emmy Hage June 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Tammy Lee,

      When you have a mixed flock, you always feed to the youngest. You can do one set of ferment with the starter for all of your flock. You will want to offer some dry grower for your pullets so they can get some larger grains. Remember to offer both chick and grower grit. Yes, it is ok to feed dry.

      Have a great day!
      Scratch and Peck Feed

  36. mstalsberg July 16, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

    I have 11 chicks that are 1week old and several questions:

    -I had started feeding an organic soy-based feed until yours arrived in the mail. Now that yours is here, I am confused on how to introduce them to it. Do I just go cold turkey on the other stuff and only put out the fermented version of yours? Or should I provide the dry version of yours along with fermented?
    -Above, I believe you advise that someone start with 1 cup of fermented feed for 10 chicks. I did this and it made wayyyyyy to much. Although I mixed 1 cup of dry to 2 parts water, which ended up in much more than 1 cup of a final product. Should I have mixed way less dry to get me to 1 cup of the final (fermented) product? There was no way they were going to eat all the batch so I froze it to avoid waste.
    -I know you mention feeding in a dish but when I put a shallow dish of the fermented feed into the brooder it was covered in bedding within 20 minutes and they couldn’t even find it. I have one of those long red baby trough type feeders and am wondering if I should have put it in there. Although it would take MUCH more than 1 cup of fermented feed to fill that trough and again, the waste issue.

    Any insights you could provide would be SO helpful!

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds July 16, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply


      We’d recommend doing a transition to our feed from your current feed — starting with mixing the two dry (before you delve into fermenting). Once you’ve transitioned to our feed, go ahead and start giving them our feeds as a ferment. You may need to leave some dry feed out for them too as they adjust to the new flavor and textures of the fermented feed, but many chickens keepers have had success going straight from our dry feed to our fermented feed, so that step may not be necessary. Test it out with your chickens and see what their preferences are at first. Definitely play around with the amount of feed with your flock. We can only provide suggested amounts because flocks vary so greatly in size. If one cup of dry feed was too much to start with for your flock, ease back on the dry amount, especially now that you have seen how the final product can increase. Perhaps start with 1/4 cup and build from there if needed. The trough feeder is good for fermented feeds, and don’t sweat it if the amount of fermented feed your chicks are currently eating doesn’t fill the trough. Feed to the size of the flock, not to the size of the container. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  37. Kasper July 23, 2018 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Hi there, So the article indicates to use fermented feed after three days. Is there any harm of creating a larger batch and feeding the fermented food say even after seven days or more?

    • Lindsey McGuirk July 23, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

      Hi Kasper, yes there is potential harm in feeding fermented feed after three days. There is risk of it spoiling or getting moldy, which could result in sick chickens if they consume it.

  38. Ann August 28, 2018 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    I see a lot of statements that fermenting whole oats will increase the protein level, which makes sense. But I can find no studies to support this or to say how much the protein level is increased. 5%, 10% 50%?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds August 29, 2018 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hi Ann, we recommend sprouting whole oats, and fermenting our feeds. Fermenting increases the bioavailability of the grains, which in turn increases the overall nutrient absorption of protein. It’s less a percentage increase of protein, and more that it is more readily available.

  39. Rachel September 1, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Thanks for this article, and for your delicious product (at least according to our chickens).
    When we go out of town for a few days, we’ve started fermenting a few batches of food the night before and morning that we leave, and keep them in the fridge for our chicken sitters to feed the birds. The longest we’ve been gone is four days, and it’s seemed to work well. Is this safe?
    Thank you!

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds September 4, 2018 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Hi Rachel,

      Yes, that is safe, although we’d recommend not leaving the ferment longer than four days to avoid spoilage. Also, make sure you’re keeping the lids on your containers loose so CO2 doesn’t build up inside (that could get messy!) Depending on your climate, it may not be necessary to put the ferment in the fridge — it can sit out for three days (give or take). The warmth will allow the feed to ferment further.

  40. barry September 5, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Please post the nutrient comparison chart of dry vs fermented grains. Please reference or link to the peer reviewed papers for fermented feed vs dry for feed for overall flock health and nutrient uptake. Please provide the chart of day by day changes in nutrient value as the fermented product ‘ages’.

  41. Caroline F October 2, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I am curious as to why the directions specify letting the chlorine in tap water dissipate? Is there a potential chemical reaction with the chlorine during the fermenting process or is it more for reasons of eating organically?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds October 3, 2018 at 7:54 am - Reply

      Hi Caroline — good question! Chlorine can inhibit the fermenting process and cause a poor ferment.

  42. Heather Sheppard October 14, 2018 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    How much dry feed would you start with to get 1 cup of fermented feed?

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds October 15, 2018 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Hi Heather, start with about 3/4 cup of dry feed and see if that gets you close to 1 cup. You may end up needing a little less than that, but play around with the amounts until you hone in on the correct amount of dry feed that you need to reach the 1 cup amount that you want for your flock.

  43. Chad October 15, 2018 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    I’m wondering if I can leave some dry feed free choice while providing fermented feed once a day? My chickens are kept in a large run so their range of food options is pretty much limited to what I feed them.

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds October 16, 2018 at 6:57 am - Reply

      Hi Chad, you can certainly leave out both options, but your chickens may pick one over the other, so some feed may end up going to waste. You also want to make sure you’re feeding them only what they need each day.

  44. Irene Nicola November 5, 2018 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Hello, I am about to purchase a bag of cracked corn. How often do I throw it out for the girls? Ahh, I’m talking chickens. LOL
    Should it be just a treat? Or can I give it daily in the afternoon?
    Thank you

    • Scratch and Peck Feeds November 6, 2018 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Hello! And yes, we figured you were talking about your chickens…. Yes, cracked corn is absolutely a treat, not a replacement for their meals. Their diet should be no more than 10% treats. In colder months, providing them with a small amount of cracked corn before bedtime will help them generate energy, and therefore warmth, to help keep them warm during the nights. If you live in a hot climate, corn isn’t ideal because, again, it will generate energy (heat), which could cause overheating. Just remember, keep it to a treat!

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