Why fermentation isn’t the same as sprouting grains
SOMETIMES THERE can be confusion with the idea of fermenting grains and sprouting them, as both involve the addition of water to grain. In the case of sprouted grains, water is added and rinsed off daily until the germinal root appears and there is significant growth of the green sprout. The grain, sprouts and all, is fed to the chicken, and some flock owners claim this is a beneficial way to feed grain.
There are pluses and minuses. The process of germination utilises the starch stored in the grain during the first week before photosynthesis on the green sprouts starts and the root is able to draw up minerals from the ground/water. Therefore it appears that 25-30% of the dry matter (DM) of the grain is used up, making the feeding of dry grain/seeds more cost efficient.
There are benefits to using sprouted grains, especially in winter when fresh green feed may be short. It appears there may be beneficial natural enzymes which are activated and can lower the viscosity in the gut, making it easier for the nutrient content to be more easily metabolised by the bird. Vitamins A and E and Omega 3 fatty acids which are present in green leafy pasture may also be provided by sprouted grains such as wheat.
One thing common to grains and seeds before either the sprouting or fermenting process starts is that they may contain some anti-nutrients, which actually protect the seed so that it might pass through the digestive tract unaltered, especially if the grinding action in the gizzard does not affect it to break down the hard outer husk. These anti-nutrients can include: • phytic acid • enzyme inhibitors • tannins • hard-to-digest proteins
Problems with eating these antinutrients include blocking calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract which can result in deficiencies in these essential minerals.
By sprouting or fermenting these grains it can eliminate the anti-nutrients and increase the availability of B vitamins, folate, vitamin C and essential amino acids like lysine and the enzymes which make the grain easier to digest. Beta carotene present in the green sprouts is also an aid to yolk colouring.