Brewer's Grains: Barnyard Happy Hour to Stretch Your Livestock Feed

Here at Newbury Farms, we're a small-scale, family-run farm, and we do our best to be as sustainable and zero-waste as possible, keeping our costs low, while maximizing the health and well-being of our farm friends. As the saying goes, "We are what THEY EAT" and what our animals consume directly impacts us, as we enjoy our pasture-raised eggs, drink raw goat milk, and lather our skin with creamy goat milk soap and lotion.

However, the biggest expense each month is always FEED. We provide organic, non-GMO livestock feed to our chickens and goats and know it's had a direct impact on our overall health. As an example: eating our farm-raised food has significantly reduced my son's allergies/sensitivities as he could not tolerate any dairy or eggs as a baby. But doing it all (gardening, raising animals and a family) while being budget-friendly, can be a challenge! 

Happy Hour for our flock

Enter: Brewer's Grains, AKA Brewer's Waste, AKA Spent Grains. Brewer's Grains are the byproduct of the brewing process, wherein beer begins as a mash of barley (or other grains) and hot water. After some time of enzymes working their magic, the grain's starch is converted into sugar, then drained and rinsed for the next phase. Brewer's want the sugar, and what's left is typically disposed of as WASTE. But hold the phone: that starchy leftover goodness is a protein and fiber-rich goldmine, just begging to be devoured by your barnyard crew! Chickens, goats, pigs, cattle, and even fish can be fed brewer's grains!

Recently, I got my hot little hands on dry brewer's grains from Rooster Malt Co. located in Bethel, CT {www.roostermalt.com} and I could not be HAPPIER! Our goats, chickens and pigs (the pigs love it everything, no surprise there) go crazy for the stuff! Plus, if brewers are producing batches on a regular basis, they are paying someone to dispose of it for them! Don't let all that fantastic supplemental feed go to waste into landfills: give your local breweries a call! Almost always, they'll happily donate it for FREE! Or if you know any homebrewers or brew yourself, just save the leftovers for your feathered and furry friends!

Brewer's grains come in two forms: wet or dry. We've been really happy with the dry grains as I can store them in a plastic tote for longer periods of time without worrying about spoilage. The pigs, goats and chickens also LOVE when I add water to them and typically clean the bowl! Wet spent grains must be consumed quickly, so use them within 1-3 days. 

A word of caution: spent grains should be used as a SUPPLEMENTAL feed, not as a SOLE RATION for your livestock and poultry. What exactly is found in brewer's grains? 20-30% of the dry weight is protein, of which 36% is rumen-degradable in cattle. Mostly maltose, a simple sugar, remains in the spent grain (giving it that sweet, bread-y smell) as well as some crude fat (7-10%) and lots of vitamins and minerals. For small-scale farmers or homesteaders, supplementing your regular livestock feed with spent grains is a great way to stretch your overall feed costs while giving your animals a tasty, nutritious treat! For more exact feed guidelines regarding spent grains, feedipedia.com is a great resource!

Dry spent grains full of rootlets and thins

When it comes to sustainable farming practices, using brewer's grains to supplement your livestock feed is an incredible option to explore. So crack open a brewski, pour some spent grains into the feed trough, and kick back with your flock or herd! It's happy hour in the barnyard!

Stay tuned for Part II of my Brewer's Grains posts to learn how you can use spent grains in your garden and compost! A big thank you to Kellogg Garden for sponsoring this post and teaming up with us on some really fun farm and garden projects throughout this season! Go check them out now Kellogg Garden for all your organic gardening needs!

 

 

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