I’m guessing you have already heard great things about soaked and fermented food for humans, but did you know they can help our our animal friends too?
Our chickens, ducks, and pigs are all fed soaked or fermented grains every day. It makes a huge difference in their health and the quality of the food they produce! Think about it; for a seed to become a plant someday, it needs to be able to pass through an animal’s stomach whole to be replanted and grow. By soaking and fermenting, we making it easier for those seeds to be digested, rather than planted!
To start, the grains are soaked in water for at least 12 hours. This causes the seed coat to swell and the “good stuff” inside the seed is easier for the animals to access and process. Because they’re better able to break down the seed and access the nutrition inside the seed, less seeds are passed through the digestive system without being utilized, so more nutrition is gained.
At this point in the process, I sometimes feed the grain to the animals. Space and time constraints mean I can generally only have once bucket of grain soaking at a time, so while some of the grain continues on to the fermentation process, some of it needs to be consumed after 12 hours.
What’s left goes on to ferment. This process takes about 2-3 days though I’ve seen it happen in less time. Unlike cattle and other ruminates who ferment what they eat on their own, pigs, chickens and ducks do not ferment their own food and thus miss out on the added benefit of fermentation.
Fermentation encourages the natural yeasts to modify the anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are substances that actually inhibit the absorption of minerals (gluten, lectins, phytates) and removing them or changing them increases the absorption of nutrients.
When fermentation occurs, you can tell because you can see gas bubbles rising from the grain!