What do scientists say?
THERE IS a scientific basis for the usefulness of fermented feed for poultry, although there were drawbacks too.
In 2009, British Poultry Science magazine reported on the effects of fermented feed on egg production, egg quality, plumage condition and composition, and intestinal flora of 480 hens aged 16-38 weeks and compared them with birds of the same age fed a standard dry feed. The study found positives and negatives: • fermented feed seemed to lose its attractiveness to the birds fairly quickly; • it resulted in more aggressive behaviour and poorer plumage condition compared to the birds given dry feed; • the litter of the fermented-fed birds was wetter; • body weight gain of the fermented fed birds was slightly higher than the dry fed birds; • egg mass (the weight of the total eggs laid by all the birds) between the two flocks was similar; • food consumption of the fermented fed birds was less than the dry fed birds (110g vs 125g); • from weeks 25-37 the fermented feed improved the feed conversion of feed eaten to egg mass; • the use of fermented feed improved egg weight, shell weight and strength; • the flock fed fermented feed had
increased intestinal health by acidification of the upper digestive tract, which formed a natural barrier to acid sensitive pathogens, eg salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter.
It was concluded that the feeding of wet, fermented feed offered potential benefits for health and nutrition, but due to the logistics of feeding large flocks there are some practical problems. It is also noted that it is beneficial to have a training period during the rearing time for birds to become accustomed to wet, fermented feed.