Why Fermented Chicken Feed Smells Like Vomit?

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If you ever go to your chicken coop and notice that the feed has started to smell like vomit, it can be hard to tell whether your chickens are in danger or not. Don’t panic; instead, try to figure out what may have gone wrong and find out how you can solve the problem right away.

So, what causes fermented chicken feed smells like vomit?

Fermented feeds are created through controlled fermentation, which means plenty of oxygen is available. So, anaerobic bacteria grows here, creating foul odors. It makes fermented feed smell unpleasant to humans, almost like vomit. Other causes include direct sun exposure, excess vinegar, etc.

Luckily, we have some tips with which you’ll be able to determine the cause for why your fermented chicken feed smells like vomit

Causes of Fermented Chicken Feed Smells Like Vomit:

fermented chicken feed smells like vomit

Let us know some of the other reasons why fermented chicken feed smells like vomit so that you can find a viable solution to it. 

1. Direct Sun Exposure

In some cases, dark brownish-black liquid leaking from a bucket containing fermented chicken feed may have an unpleasant odor. This is particularly prevalent when people ferment their own feeds.

Rotting or spoiled chicken doesn’t cause a bad smell. It occurs when they leave it in direct sunlight for too long. In other words, if you keep your food out of direct sunlight, you won’t have problems with bad smells.

2. Mold Growth

There are a couple of reasons why feeding your chickens in plastic buckets or containers will make their feed smelly. First, when you store chicken feed in a warm environment (like on top of your refrigerator), there is an increased risk of bacteria or mold forming inside. This is especially true if you live in a humid climate where condensation could occur.

3. Rodent Excretions

Rodent excretions have an easily recognizable and very characteristic smell. You can easily compare it to a wet dog or, to a much more unpleasant degree, human urine. The pungent odor of rodent excretions causes many poultry farmers to toss out their whole batch of feed.

The other reason why fermenting chicken feed smells so bad has to do with what’s actually being fed to them. Most commercial chicken feeds contain corn as one of their main ingredients, producing lots of gas as it breaks down in their stomachs. This gas then gets released, resulting in a stinky vomit-like smell. 

4. Adding Excess Vinegars

The other ingredients may or may not make your ferment smell bad. Apple cider vinegar is acidic, so adding too much of it to your ferment could cause an off-smell. The same goes for vinegar or any other strong acid you might add.

However, in small quantities of 2 teaspoons per gallon, adding them is no harm to give your chickens a probiotic boost.

A number of other ingredients are thought to affect a finished batch of fermented.

chicken feed are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs include butyric acid, acetic acid, propionic acid, lactic acid, and many others. Each one contributes its own level of sourness or funkiness that may result in a strong scent or taste. Avoid using such ingredients for fermenting or preserving the chicken feed.

How to Avoid Fermented Chicken Feed Smell Like Vomit

How to Avoid Fermented Chicken Feed Smell Like Vomit

Here is some general tips to apply to prevent your fermented chicken feed smell like vomit.

1. Cover With Water

Water covers smelly things and prevents them from smelling. Covering your chicken feed with several inches of water will keep it from smelling bad.

Just make sure that you keep adding fresh water to maintain an adequate amount of moisture. Otherwise, your chickens might not eat well because their food is too dry or dirty. 

You should also ensure that their watering system is well-maintained so they don’t get sick because of polluted water.

It’s better that you use filtered or well-water instead of tap water. Tap water contains a high amount of chlorine which can make the fermented chicken feed go bad easily.

2. Stir It At Intervals

Bad odors are usually caused by bacteria, which quickly break down organic matter if left to sit for too long. Keep your chicken feed nice and fresh by frequently stirring it up. This will keep oxygen in constant contact with all of your feed so that any nasty odors don’t have a chance to develop.

You should also store your bags of raw food in a cool place away from sunlight, as heat and light are bad for anything you’re fermenting.

3. Don’t Store It In Plastic Containers

Cheap plastic containers contain a chemical called BPA, which ruins the fermentation of chicken feed. To avoid the vomit smell in your chicken feed, you should store them in BPA-free plastic containers.

If possible, invest in stainless steel or glass containers for a safe and healthy fermentation process.  

Best Fermented Chicken Feeds to Get

To keep your fermented chicken good for a long period of time, we mentioned some tips above. However, you also need to make sure that the chicken feed is of top-notch quality so that the fermentation process is well-done. Or else, no matter what step you take, the feed will go bad quickly anyway.   

Here are some good-quality chicken feeds to choose from. 




Manna Pro Chicken Feed

  • Contains 16% protein content
  • Contains probiotics
  • Easily digestible 
  • Does not contain artificial flavoring 
  • It is packaged poorly

Scratch and Peck Feeds Naturally Free Organic Layer Pellets Chicken Feed

  • Not dusty
  • Corn and soy-free
  • Contains 16% grub protein
  • Has great money value
  • These are whole grain-form, so you need to spend time grinding them. 
Manna Pro Organic Scratch 
  • Made from all-organic ingredients
  • Does not contain artificial flavoring or colors
  • These are powder form, which are easily edible 
  • Affordable package
  • The powder version contains some forms of worms and mold- as some customers complained.

Manna Pro Ultimate Scratch Chicken Feed 

  • Great source of energy for mature birds
  • Does not contain cholesterol or trans fats
  • Has a longer shelf life
  • Contains a mixture of important grains
  • It contains corn, which can produce gas in some chickens’ stomach. 

Reasons to Feed Your Chicken Fermented Feed

Fermenting your chickens’ feed is a great way to improve their health, nutrition, and egg-laying quality. For example, when chickens eat grains, those grains are broken down by microbes in their gut that produce beneficial substances such as B vitamins.

Fermentation has been used for thousands of years to preserve food, including as a way to provide vitamins that had previously been removed from nutrient-poor grains during processing.

How Chicken Feed Fermentation Works

How Chicken Feed Fermentation Works

When you ferment chicken feed, you simply add water to whole grains (or grain mixes) and let them sit out at room temperature for up to three days. During that time, bacteria break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, which are then consumed by yeast.

The yeast produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause air pockets to form in grain kernels; these air pockets increase digestibility and make nutrients more available to chickens.

After fermentation is complete, seeds may be added back into bird feeder rations or fed separately as treats.


  • Does fermented chicken feed smell?

Fermented feeds often have an odor similar to soy sauce, vinegar or rotting cabbage. Maybe you were turned off by its odor, thinking that there must be something wrong with it. But unless spoilage is involved, there are no harmful effects. It just smells bad. They smell like vomit if they get spoilt.

  • How long will fermented chicken feed last?

It depends on several factors, including its strength (or not), storage temperature, food safety precautions taken during storage, and how many chickens are eating it. In general, a strong batch of ferment is preserved for 2–3 days in warm weather or 7–10 days in cooler weather.

  • Is fermenting chicken feed safe?

In short- yes, they are safe, even though they stink a bit! But these little fermented grains are full of healthy probiotics that benefit your birds in many ways – even helping them fight off illness or parasites.

  • Does fermenting chicken feed increase protein?

Some farmers will purposefully add bacteria to their feeds in order to increase protein. Fermenting feeds is a great way to boost those nutrients; however, adding un-properly made ferments or relying too heavily on ferments as a sole source of nutrition can lead to digestive issues in your chickens.

Final Thought

As a poultry owner or chicken parent, you want to give your bird the best form of food possible. And, fermented chicken feed is one of them. It is obvious that fermented chicken feed smells a bit foul, but it shouldn’t smell like vomit or incur a pungent foul smell at all.

So, why your fermented chicken feed smells like vomit?

Well, it happens for several reasons – bacteria growth, sun exposure, adding too much vinegar, etc.

Now, If the feed smells like vomit, throw it away instead of feeding your chicken. Also, take necessary steps to avoid it from happening so that you can feed your chickens healthy probiotics.