Episode 43 Show Notes
Shortage of Chicken Sexers
The poultry industry in the United Kingdom announced that it has a critical shortage of chickens sexers, the people who separate male and female chicks at chicken hatcheries. Apparently, this is not an occupation that young people are considering for a career despite a nice pay rate of around $60,000 (in U.S. dollars). The training to become a chicken sexer takes three years, and when you are finished you will be able to sort 500 or more chicks per hour.
Since the middle of last year, Suzy has wanted to try fermenting chicken feed to give to our flock. Proponents of the practice claim that it will reduce your flock’s feed consumption by half, increase the quality of their eggs, help young chicks gain weight faster, and increase the overall health of your chickens.
The theory is that grain based feeds (like chicken feed) are difficult for chickens to fully digest, and many nutrients in the feed are never absorbed by the chicken. Fermenting feed makes it more digestible, allowing chickens to get more nutrition from the same amount of feed. By absorbing more nutrition goodness, they don’t need to eat as much and their bodies are healthier.
Fermenting feed is not costly. All you need to give it a try is a bucket and water. Here is the simple process:
- Get some clean water. If your water contains chlorine, let it sit out in a bucket for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate. If your water contains chloramine, you will need a special filter to remove it. If you are not sure what is in your water, call your municipal water department.
- Get a bucket and fill it partially with the chicken feed you already use. Don’t overfill the feed will expand as it absorbs water.
- Pour your clean water into the bucket so that it covers the feed by several inches. Check back regularly to make sure that the water level remains about an inch or so higher than the feed at all times.
- Put a loose fitting lid on the bucket.
- Stir the mixture at least twice a day – every four hours is better – and add water as necessary to keep the feed from being exposed to the air.
- Within a day or two, bubbles will begin to develop and the water will become cloudy. This is normal. Keep stirring and adding water as necessary.
- Smell the mixture to see if it developing appropriately.
- If it smells sour or tart like sauerkraut or yogurt, it is right on track.
- If it smells like alcohol, it has gone rogue. Try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every gallon of mixture to try to save it. If it still smells like alcohol the next day, throw it out and start over.
- If it any time it smells rotten, it has not gone well and cannot be saved. Throw it out and begin again.
- On day four the mixture should be ready. Strain some feed from the water and feed it to your chickens. They should go crazy for the stuff!
- Scoop fresh feed every day. Don’t try to load your conventional feeder with several days worth of food. Scoop some fresh feed every day.
- As you scoop food out, you can replace it with new dry feed using the same water. If the water ever gets to smelling rotten, throw it out and start a new batch.
So there is the process. We will be trying this with two or our micro-flocks and with a new batch of chicks we are starting. We will report back and let you know how it is going.