I first heard of this idea in a YouTube video from the channel Off Grid with Doug and Stacey. In their video, 3 Ways to Use Kombucha Besides Drinking It!, they share that they feed extra kombucha and scobys to their dogs, cats, and chickens. I decided that I was going to give this a try with our flock.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea, high in gut-healthy probiotics and beneficial enzymes. I started drinking it about a year ago and found that it helped me in the same way apple cider vinegar does to combat my sinus allergies but was way more palatable than drinking apple cider vinegar and water.
Kombucha is pretty expensive to buy already prepared. You can usually find it in health food stores, and some grocery stores, for around $2-4$ for a 20 oz bottle. But if you plan on drinking it regularly as I do, those bottles can add up.
Which is why I like to brew my own.
Like apple cider vinegar, you will need a “mother”. In kombucha, the mother is called a SCOBY which is an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. It is this strange mushroom-looking slimy thing that feeds on tea and sugar. The kombucha recipe I use is a continuous feed recipe, where the kombucha is always brewing and ready to drink. Then I replenish it as it’s consumed, about once a week.
For more information visit The Homesteading Family Channel on Youtube, their video Healthy Summer Drinks: Kombucha has great information!
- 1-gallon glass jar with bottom spout (your brewing vessel)
- cheesecloth or coffee filter
- rubber band
- 1 scoby (more about this below)
- ½ gallon of water
- ½ cup organic cane sugar
- 3 organic black tea bags
All equipment must be extremely clean, sterilization isn’t a bad idea.
Add ½ cup sugar to a half-gallon jar. Boil 4 cups water and pour into a jar, stir to dissolve sugar. Add tea bags and brew for 15 minutes. Add 4 cups of cold water. Let cool to room temperature.
Place scoby in brewing container and pour the cooled sugar and tea mixture over. Cover with cheesecloth and secure around the rim of the jar with a rubber band.
Allow the kombucha to brew for a few days. The top of the jar should get cloudy. That’s the new scoby bacteria forming.
Give it a taste each day after that. It will start to get fizzy and have a slight vinegar taste. The longer you let it brew, the more vinegar flavor will result. As you drink it down, repeat the recipe and feed the scoby to replenish.
Finding a Scoby
If you have a friend who brews kombucha, ask if they’d be willing to share a piece of their scoby. If not, you can grow your own using a bottle of store-bought, raw kombucha, or you can order a scoby online. I found mine on Amazon.
What does this have to do with chickens?
If you follow anything having to do with natural chicken keeping, you may have heard that feeding your chickens raw apple cider vinegar is a popular health trend. It is an excellent addition to digestive health.
Kombucha can be used in much the same way. With my kombucha jar, my scoby was getting so big that the bacteria were turning the tea into vinegar faster than I could drink it. So I decided to cut my scoby in half to slow the process down.
I fed the extra scoby to our chickens and they gobbled this healthy bacteria “mother” up!
Vinegar-like kombucha can also be added to chicken’s drinking water. Just make sure you don’t use a metal water vessel.
I haven’t been feeding it long enough to know if it’s providing any health benefits. I feel like our chickens are pretty healthy anyway, so it might be hard to notice an immediate change, but I do know that they enjoy eating it. I will continue feeding our extra scobys to our flock and encourage you to do some research for yourself and decide if brewing kombucha is something you’d like to provide for you and your flock.