We are very concerned about our family’s nutrition and level of health and so our goal is to raise plants, and animals that are happy, healthy and produce highly nutritious food. This project is ongoing because we are in the process of converting our entire food chain from the micro to the macro away from synthetic and chemical additives and back into what is organic, holistic and grown naturally. Easy to do perhaps with lots of money and resources, but difficult on a shoestring budget, without something that can turn a little bit into a whole lot.
That’s where living probiotic microbes come in. Beneficial microbes break down toxins and multiply nutrition in the foods they are added to. The microbes in probiotic cultures make a little bit go a very long ways. For instance, when raising animals, you can start with a smaller amount of initial investment in feed and mineral supplements, and multiply the results many times over because the microbes leaven the food’s nutrient values. Microbes Multiply Minerals and Nutrients. To demonstrate this multiplication process I’ll use our meat chicken project as an example.
OUR CHICKEN PROJECT: Certain breeds of meat chickens grow so fast that in 8 weeks they reach full maturity. Most commercial meat chickens are kept in very tight confines where they never run, fly, or spend time free-ranging outside in the open where they would have been healthier pecking for bugs, seeds and plants. By the end of 8 weeks, many of these commercial birds die of heart attacks or end up with broken legs because their weak organs and legs can’t support their rapid growth and large body weight. Consumers who eat commercial meat birds assimilate the same problems that the animals have, including poor nutrition and toxicity issues.
We didn’t want to buy any more chicken from the stores, because commercial chicken growers usually feed meat birds a poultry mix consisting of grains, corn and mineral supplements. Almost all corn is GMO unless it is grown organically. GMO corn contains glyphosates, a chemical found in Roundup. Genetically engineered corn has been found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GMO corn. At 13 ppm, GMO corn contains more than 18 times the “safe” level of glyphosate set by th EPA. Glyphosate is a genotoxic endocrine disruptor to human cells and gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria was recently discovered to contain the very same metabolic pathway in plants that is being targeted and disrupted by Glyphosates. More glyphosates = more leaky gut, digestive issues, cell degeneration and immune problems.
We wanted to feed our chickens and other farm animals grain with no GMO corn in it and all we had available locally was livestock mixes with corn, so we had to come up with a method for creating nutritious food that had a complete blend of minerals and nutrients for our animals, without the GMO’s. Here’s what we did to create healthy economical methods for food production.
Here at Clearwater Cultures, family is at the center of everything we do. Children’s education is integrated into projects, where kids can help, earn money and learn vital hands-on skills. We believe that all the enthusiastic kid energy that goes into our projects actually improves their health and viability. After all kids are our future. To prepare for our chicks, we built our own chicken brooder boxes from scrap wood and hardware cloth to house the chicks for the first few weeks. The boxes went into the garage so we could put a heat lamp over the chicks until they got bigger.
We received 106 three-day-old Cornish Cross meat chickens in the mail from a large hatchery. Two of our neighbors also bought chickens from the same source that came in the same delivery. Each family experimented with different feeds. All chickens were free range. This Cornish Cross breed matures in 8-weeks and so in a short time you can see what effect nutrition has on their entire lifespan. That’s like observing 80 years in a human’s life to understand what is healthy for us and what isn’t, without taking decades to gather the results.
The birds arrived, already nutritionally compromised, so they really needed a boost to achieve optimum health. The chickens were divided into three groups. The first group of chickens ate dry poultry mix from the store, containing GMO corn. The second group of birds ate commercial poultry mix that was fermented with raw apple cider vinegar.
The third group of chickens ate a mix of non-GMO bulk feed that we bought by the ton from local farmers. Buying the bulk feed saved us lots of money. We stored the dry grain in 50 gallon barrels until we were ready to grind it. We used coarse-ground wheat, barley and pea screenings together in our chicken food ferments. These were cultured with probiotic microbes for 2-3 days before feeding them to our chickens.
None of the grains were organic and so we were concerned about residue from pesticides, herbicides and other contaminants. There are no organic grain farmers in our area, and so our buying options are limited. To decontaminate the grains, we made a special culture with ingredients that are known to break apart and nullify the effects of toxins. (recipe included)
The birds raised on the mineral-cultured grain mix all survived to full term, ran, flew and stayed very healthy. When we butchered them they had hardly any fat, the meat was juicy and tender and tasted amazing. They were larger than the other groups of birds, their legs were thicker, their feathers more fully developed, and they were much calmer in their behavior.
In the group of birds raised on apple cider vinegar fermented GMO commercial poultry mix there were over a dozen who suffered from heart attacks, broken legs and hypothermia by the time we butchered in November. The group raised on dry commercial poultry mix with GMO corn was in such terrible shape after a few weeks that we converted them all over to our most nutritious mineral ferment, and they eventually improved their growth and development. The difference in appearance between the three groups was easy to see, even to untrained eyes.
Chick on the left was fed dry commercial poultry feed with GMO corn. Chick on the right was fed our probiotic/prebiotic mineral and grain ferment. Chicks are the same age.
Fermenting our chicken feed took more time each day than just giving them dry grain, but we used less grain, had healthier chickens, and cut down on our supplement costs so significantly, that the supplements we bought to feed them for a couple of months will probably last us many years using them in fermentation processes instead of giving them the dry supplements directly in their food.
If you are interested in our mineral grain fermentation project, here’s how we did it, and WHY.
WHY GO TO SO MUCH WORK TO MAKE FERMENTS.
WHY: Probiotic microbes deliver minerals and vitamins into living cells, in the exact amount each cell needs. To prepare the minerals and vitamins for the cells, these beneficial microbes predigest and reassemble the nutrients from plants, animals and minerals in the soil, until the microbes match the nutrients to the needs of each cell. This process is similar to the way some mothers in nature pre-chew food for their babies. The mother’s microbes on the skin, in saliva and the gut know what each baby needs. The microbes not only prepare the food for digestion and assimilation, they also teach the baby’s body what to do with the food. Living probiotic microbes contain the entire history and survival instincts of the species they co-exist with. When a baby bird eats food its parent has pre-chewed and pre-digested with the parent’s microbes, the food becomes organized in a way that propagates the bird’s species, passing on immune system information, survival instincts, and family-line wisdom. Food that is not predigested by probiotic microbes is difficult to assimilate, and can end up polluting the body with undigested toxic waste.
MOTHER MICROBIOME: The whole group of probiotic microbes that keeps our body nutritionally fed and holistically clean is called a microbiome. We received our first microbiome from our mother, when we came down the birth canal and inherited the microbes that contain our mother’s ancestral survival information. We assimilated more of this vital microbiome from breast milk and nurturing skin to skin contact with both our parents. Our second microbiome came from our earth mother, through direct exposure to nature, where we received beneficial microbes from organic plants and herbs, from animals, from pure water, living soil and unpolluted air. These two mother microbiomes create the basis of our immune system. Healthy microbiomes teach our body to repel harmful substances and assimilate helpful nutrients. Without these mothering microbiomes to nurture and guide humans, we tend to become confused and backwards, often attracting harm and repelling help. This same thing applies to animals.
Scientists found that people whose physical body still has their birth mother, and earth mother’s microbiomes on and in their body are the healthiest people on earth, many of them living productive and disease-free lives to over 100 years old. When this mother microbiome is damaged or killed by toxic chemicals, antibiotics or anti-bacterial products, people experience elevated levels of stress, anxiety, disease, depression and degeneration. When a healthy microbiome is added back into people’s bodies, many problems improve so rapidly that the healing power of the natural microbiome has astounded many doctors and scientists.
Unfortunately, many of these same doctors and scientists still believe that they can make synthetic copies of a few strains of the earth’s microbes, call them “probiotic”, mass produce them to make lots of money, and get the same health-promoting effects that you would from a real mother. So don’t expect lab-grown and factory-produced “probiotic” microbes to give you the holistic, organic and medicinal effect that the earth’s probiotic cultures will. A synthetic probiotic has a few strains of bacteria, mass produced over and over. Contrast that to a living probiotic culture like kefir, which contains more strains of microbes than have ever been identified. The strains of microbes in real cultures constantly update to respond to environmental changes and so your personal culture will match your particular needs, all the time, even if those needs change. Compare Nature’s biodiversity and adaptability to synthetics, which are standardized and made to give many different people the very same prescription formula, whether they need it or not.
Picture: a kombucha tea with a mother SCOBI inside.
PROBIOTIC MOTHER CULTURES: To create a living probiotic culture of the earth’s microbiome you need a STARTER. The starter contains a S.C.O.B.I. This is the mother culture that contains all the survival information and ancestral wisdom that the microbes add into the food to predigest it and improve its ability to help us and our animals be whole and well. S.C.O.B.I. is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Colony of Beneficial Individuals. Scientist used to think that probiotic cultures were just made of bacteria and yeast and so many people use the acronym S.C.O.B.Y. (symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast), but now many people are beginning to realize that there are many kinds of individual cells in a scobi. Mother SCOBI’s exist in kefir, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, and other cultures made from the microbes that came straight from the earth (no synthetic bacteria).
For our probiotic ferment we used all these cultures just because we had them and wanted to experiment. Start with what you have, even if it is just one culture.
You want your animal feed ferment to contain all the necessary minerals, enzymes and nutrients needed. You don’t have to know the exact amounts. That’s what the microbes do, proportion the nutrients according to needs.
I’ve listed several different sources for calcium and minerals. You don’t have to use them all. Just start with what you have or can obtain. Each bucket of mineral ferment lasted us about 4 months, feeding 35-100 chickens and 5 goats. Extra ferment is used on the garden, so you get a whole lot for a small investment.
POSSIBLE MINERALS AND DETOXIFIERS TO ADD TO YOUR FERMENT FOR ANIMAL AND GARDEN USE:
Ground egg shells. These are easier to grind in a food processor if they are dry. We put ours in a paper bag and either leave them in the green house on a hot day, or by a wood stove.
Activated Charcoal: Absorbs hundreds of times its own weight in toxins and neutralizes them.
Azomite: A-Z mineral base.
Diatomaceous Earth (fossilized diatoms from ancient seas and lakes): for parasites, silica for bones, teeth, hair, feathers.
Zeolite (deposit from fresh water ancient lakes): powerful ingredient to help detoxify heavy metals, contaminants, glyphosates.
Borax (mined directly from the earth): for boron, strong bones, muscles, etc.
Lignite (Soft coal deposit of compressed ancient plant materials): Has been shown to help restore damage from glyphosates.
Bentonite clay (natural earth clay of sodium bentonite): detoxifies unnatural substances.
Pascalite (an unusual form of calcium bentonite from Wyoming): detoxifies unnatural substances.
Redmond Mineral Salt with Selenium: Over 60 naturally occurring minerals from an ancient seabed encased under a layer of bentonite to protect it from modern pollutants.
Fertrell Poultry Nutri-Balancer: natural mineral supplement.
Volcanic Rock powder: high levels of minerals and trace elements naturally occurring on earth.
DIRECTIONS: I added a ¼ to ½ cup of each of these minerals to a five-gallon plastic bucket, along with a quart of crushed egg shells. Next I poured 1 gallon of raw apple cider vinegar over this mineral combo. It foams up the bucket in a vinegar-baking soda type of reaction that is fun for kids and adults to see.
PREBIOTIC PLANT NUTRITION FOR YOUR FERMENTATION BASE: To this mix I also added plants, high in nutrients and medicinal properties. The plants are all optional but the types I’ve listed are easy to grow and propagate, or they are common weeds that you can wild-craft. Make sure to harvest them in an area not sprayed by chemicals. In the fall our plants were fresh when we made the mix. In the winter’s mix, they were dried.
Alfalfa: nutritious, high in minerals
Basil: digestion, parasites, infections, very nutritious.
Borage: edible plant, easy to grow, high in essential fatty acids, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, B and C vitamins, beta carotene, medicinal properties: adrenal function, nerve disorders, depression, inflammation, toxicity.
Cleavers: (a common weed) powerful detoxifying herb, good for lymph.
Comfrey leaf: comfrey has deep roots that bring minerals and microbes up to the surface. Great for rapid cell growth and nutrition.
Dandelion: rich in vitamins and minerals, digestion, blood, liver, skin, overall health.
Horsetail: high in silica for strong bones, teeth, hair, feathers.
Kelp: minerals, natural iodine
Nettle: (stinging nettle, collect with gloves) Very nutritious, anti-inflammatory, detoxification.
Oregano: infections, detoxification, digestion and elimination, inflammation.
Plantain: (common weed) detoxification, nutrition, tissue repair, infections.
Rosemary: anti-inflammatory, nervine, antioxidant, mental and physical overall health.
Sage: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, infection fighter, nutrition.
St. John’s Wort: (a common weed) immune function, infection fighter, tissue repair, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mental and physical overall health.
Thyme: parasites, infections, immune boost.
Tobacco: Native tobacco is easy to grow and great to have on hand for a multiplicity of uses: parasites, stomach disorders, toxins, pathogens.
Wormwood: kills parasites, pathogens, infections, abnormal cell growths, digestion. Easy to grow.
Yarrow: tissue repair, stress release, reduce inflammation, detoxification, deodorizing, digestion, rich in nutrients and phytochemicals.
You can chop your plants or put them in whole. The chickens can eat them easier if they are chopped, but either way the plants will infuse their medicinal and nutritional properties into the entire ferment. The microbes cause everything to start to work symbiotically together as one colony to create whole body healing. For my goat food I leave the plants whole, which I will explain more about later.
FERMENTATION USING A MOTHER CULTURE:
Besides the vinegar, we also add goat milk kefir, kombucha, raw whey, and different types of cultured essential microorganisms made from fermenting rice to the 5 gallon bucket. About a cup of each. Then we add pure non-chlorinated water to cover all the plants and minerals, so they can brew together in the liquid. Put this bucket of minerals in a place where it will stay relatively warm and let it ferment for a few weeks or more. (We ferment in an insulated shed with a light for heat.)
In the meantime, obtain your feed. We bought ours in bulk by the ton and ground it to a coarse mesh with a home feed grinder. We saved enough money buying the feed in bulk rather than in 50# bags, that we were able to pay for the grinder with our feed savings in just 8 weeks.
FERMENTATION OF YOUR ANIMALS FEED GRAINS: You will need at least two more 5 gallon plastic buckets with lids to ferment your grain, depending on how many animals you are feeding. In the first bucket place a gallon of water and anywhere from one cup to 1 gallon of your probiotic starter. This is your mother culture: raw whey, raw apple cider vinegar, kefir, kombucha, or an essential microorganism rice ferment. The more starter you add and the warmer your room temperature, the faster the grains will ferment.
Add your coarse ground grain to the liquid and stir. We added ground wheat, barley and peas. Then add a cup of the mineral ferment that you previously created. Keep adding more water and grain and stirring until the bucket is ¾ of the way full and about the consistency of wet mush. The grain will continue to absorb moisture and expand. Put the lid on and ferment in a warm place for 2-3 days. Mix a second bucket of grain ferment as needed so you give it enough time to ferment before feeding.
We put our grain mix in cake pans when the chickens were small and then in small buckets when they got larger because the wet grain won’t self-feed through regular poultry feeders. Chickens may have pea brains, but they were smart enough to eat the fermented mixes instead the dry commercial grain mix when we set both types out in the feed area to see what the chickens would do.
FEEDING OTHER ANIMALS:
EGG LAYERS: We use the same feed for our egg laying chickens as we did for our meat chickens. The ferment improves shell hardness, yoke color, and nutrition, while increasing yields.
PIGS: Pigs love fermented foods, but it takes a lot of work to keep up with their appetites, so you can supplement their regular food by giving them a bucket of fermented food as often as possible. An option would be to add the fermented grain mix to their food a day ahead of time and let the microbes multiply into the regular grain before feeding it to the pigs.
Picture: This is a tray of herbs that were fermented for a month with the minerals and a kombucha vinegar mother culture (above). They are removed from the crock or bucket, strained, and dried in a tray above a wood stove for the goats to eat. The goats actually like these fermented herbs more than apples.
GOATS: I have tried this same formula with my dairy goats and they refused to eat it. They prefer their grain dry, and they don’t like the smell of fermented milk. I thought they would eat the kefir and whey ferments made from their own milk, but they preferred plants fermented in vinegars. So I made ferments that contained the minerals and detoxifiers I listed, cultured in just vinegars (raw apple cider and aged kombucha vinegar). To this ferment I added pure water and lots of plants: including the types I mentioned, plus leaves and flowers from: clovers, burdock, mullein, yellow dock, radishes, kale, horsetail, chard, tree leaves, milk thistle, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry and grape leaves. Goats don’t like mints, including lemon balm and mallow, so leave these out. Ferment for a few days to a few weeks, strain out the herbs and either feed the herbs to your goats wet, or let them dry first. Add a new crop of plants to the vinegar mineral ferment and do it again. You can add a tiny bit of the liquid in this ferment to your stock water, or to other ferments. Once the culture is growing well, it can keep replicating itself.
PLANTS: The mineral-microbe-plant ferment makes a wonderful soil amendment and tea for foliar feeding plants. Strain out the plant and mineral material and spray the liquid on your plants and soil.
OTHER ANIMALS: I would love to hear back from people who use this idea with other animals.
CONCLUSION: I believe that we can create affordable and sustainable farming practices using probiotic mineral ferments to enrich the nutrition in our gardens, livestock, pets, and families. Our meat chicken project provided our family with a year’s worth of chicken meat for an affordable investment using this fermentation process. We also don’t have the parasite problems in our animals that many people do, which very well could be because of the plants and herbs in the ferments that are anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and powerful infection fighters.