Feeding Clabber to Chickens

Learn all about how to make and feed clabbered milk to your chickens. A frugal way to provide your chickens with extra protein, calcium, and good bacteria they need. Learn all about how to make and feed clabbered milk to your chickens. A frugal way to provide your chickens with extra protein, calcium, and good bacteria they need. #clabberedmilk #rawmilk #fermentation #chickens #backyardchickens #homestead

Feeding Chickens Clabbered Milk

A few months ago we started to have a problem. My rooster started pecking and eating the feathers off of my hens. I’ve known roosters to be obnoxious and pull feathers off hens before…but not eat them! After looking at him a little closer, we realized that his beak was purple. I didn’t remember it being that color before, and since he’s a mostly white bird I didn’t think it was normal.

So I started researching and asking questions about what might be going on with him. And I discovered that the purple beak and feather eating is caused by a lack of protein in a chicken’s diets. Apparently their feathers are full of protein so when it’s lacking in their regular diet, they will eat each other’s feathers. Of course, then I had to figure out what to do about this. My chickens were starting to look not so pretty. As I researched, I discovered clabbered milk was a solution and I decided to try it.

Remember the old nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet? Well, it turns out that her curds and whey is very nutritious! Today, it’s not called curds and whey, we call it Clabber. Clabbered milk, by definition is a thick yogurt-like substance that is the bi-product of letting unpasteurized milk ferment.

Many years ago, in Little House times, women fermented milk to make clabber to add to their baked goods to make them rise. In modern days, we use baking powder or buttermilk. In fact, you may recognize a brand of baking powder named after this process. (You can read more about Ancestral Fermentation using Clabbered Milk at Cultures for Health.)

Sounds kind of yucky doesn’t it? We won’t be using any clabbered milk in any baked goods, but as it turns out, clabbered milk is very good for your chickens! Clabber provides calcium, protein, and good bacteria to the chickens.

Feeding Clabbered Milk to Chickens

How to Feed Your Chickens Clabbered Milk

To make clabbered milk, you take unpasteurized milk and let it sit in an undisturbed place for a few days (not in the refrigerator). Cover it loosely.

After a few days, it will start to look like the stuff in the picture above. After about another day the whey (the yellow part) will separate the rest of the way from the white part (the clabber). At this point, you can feed it to your chickens in a pan. And yes, you can feed them both the whey and the clabber, the whey has the most protein and the clabber has the most calcium.

—Making yogurt? You can strain the whey off of your Homemade Yogurt to feed your chickens too! You’ll have thicker, greek style yogurt, and your chickens will have lots of yummy protein!

I know this all sounds a little odd, it did to me at first too! But I fed it to my chickens and they just loved it! They’ve also stopped eating feathers and their beaks are starting to look better.

You can soak the grains that you normally feed your chickens in the clabber mixture and feed it to them that way also. Our chickens are free-range but we still feed them grains.

We have really been able to cut down on the costs of chicken feed by feeding our chickens clabbered milk and letting them be free-range. Plus, they look better and are healthier because of it! Not only do we have all the benefits that I listed above, supposedly, feeding your chickens clabber will make their meat soft and more flavorful. Because it’s high in protein and calcium, it should also make them better layers too.

I know that not everyone has access to raw milk, but for those that do, this is a great way to use up extra milk, spend less on chicken feed, and have healthy chickens!

Looking for a place to find raw milk near you? You can check out this database to find real milk near you. >> https://www.realmilk.com/

Are your raising chickens on your homestead? Here are some other great articles you will want to check out next:

Learn more about Homestead Living and Raising Backyard Chickens!

Have you ever heard of clabbered milk before? Have you fed your chicken’s clabber?

Merissa Bio

This post on Feeding Clabbered Milk to Chickens was originally published on Little House Living in May 2011. It has been updated as of May 2020.

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27 Comments

  1. Thanks Merissa for this post. We get our peeps next Tuesday and I’ve been compiling information for the future to use for the chickens in the case of illness or lack of mineras/proteins arise. Where do you get your raw milk? I don’t know of anywhere around here, but maybe I’ll be able to find some places nearby. Thanks for all the intersting posts. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it, but I do enjoy reading them so very much.

  2. Clabber smells sweet and good. Miss Muffet was eating it because it’s tastey. If you heat it up a bit (don’t heat it up too much or it will be like rubber), the curds separate more and Voila! cheese. Add a little salt to the cheese and eat it. Feed the whey to your chickens. The more I use unpasturized milk, the more amazed I am with how much you can do with it and how good it is.

    1. Grandma used
      To keep a milking bucket covered with a flour sack behind the wood burning kitchen stove that was lit 24/7 with extra milk in it. I was always toasty back there and she added to the bucket every day . Whatever clabbered milk (cottage cheese) wasn’t consumed for breakfast one way or another (cottage cheese with radishes and salt and pepper comes to mind) went to the chickens with their slop or sometimes to the pigs. It was a perfect system that wasted nothing, including cow chips that often powered the stove.

  3. Could I ask what grain you feed then? We’re getting our second round of meat birds and our first layers and are trying to get away from soy which isn’t easy or very economical :\ This sounds like a great way to do it!

  4. Hi! My husband and I are looking for a way to feed our chickens no soy. This is going to be it. We are new chicken owners.
    Would you be able to help me out about amounts. We have 12 chickens at this time and I was wondering how much clabber to feed them and how much a gallon of clabber will last? Your help would be great appreciated. Also I found that slit peas, oats and sunflower seeds would be a good addition to there diet. Also we are going to get some cracked corn to help them stay warm (we live in new england area) and also purchasing Diatomaceous earth.
    Any advise would be lovely.
    Thank you!! :o)

    1. I’m not sure how much clabber we specifically feed our chickens. I don’t have it all the time so we just give it to them when we do. Our chickens are also free range so they eat alot of bugs in the summer to help fill them up. We give our chickens a heat lamp in the winter to keep them warm and to keep them laying also.

    2. I have 28 chickens & use 3 gallons of clabbered milk in their laying mash each week. That’s just under 1/2 gallon per day for 28 – so one quart per day for 12 would be about right. My hens are VERY healthy: they have grown well, their feathers are thick & vibrant, & their eggs have perfectly orange yolks with excellent shells! I use non-gmo feed mixed with the clabbered milk & 2 cups of scratch daily along with kitchen scraps (I will increase the scratch in the winter a bit). Adding the peas, oats, sunflower seeds… is great for variety. I use what is available: this week that is a plenty of split tomatoes, overgrown cukes, & even carrots/squash… in a blender so it is more edible. I LOVE MY CHICKIES!!!

  5. I have a Jersey heifer here in middle Pennsylvania. My chickens and peahens love the clabber, I just dump the whole thing into a bowl ( a quart), and all 10 hens, 3 roosters, and three peahens love it! I am getting 100% lay now from the chickens.
    But, does anyone know why my peahens will not sit on their eggs, ever! My geese and chickens sit come Spring, but never the peahens. Our peacock makes sure they are fertile for sure.
    Thanks and God Bless America !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Thanks for the how to on making clabber. I am weaning my meat goats this week and now I can use my does’ “relief” milk to help feed the chickens.

  7. Oh, I am so excited about this. Our goats are close to kidding and we will have a LOT of milk soon. I can’t wait to feed the chickens clabber and see if their feed consumption drops and egg production rises.

    Thank you for the info!

    Tina

  8. I set some milk out last week to clabber but its just getting clumpy and thick and has not got the “whey” on top. Is this ok or did I do something wrong? How long does it take?

        1. Hmmm, I’m not sure then. Mine has always separated from the whey, maybe it’s just not been sitting long enough? There could be a difference between cow breeds I suppose.

  9. Hi Merissa, I know it’s not winter now, but thought I would ask if you know about rocket mass heaters? I came to you website to read about super storm Atlas and being prepared. You might check it out at Permies.com … or on Youtube, etc. RMH are something everyone needs to know about.

    Loved your site,
    Lynette

  10. Hello,

    I found your website via Deby at Sew So Easy. I keep backyard chickens here in the suburbs. One problem I had was my hens eating biddies as soon as they hatched. My mother in law said her mom would give her chickens liver as a protein supplement. This did the trick for my little flock. Here in Florida, it gets so hot, I freeze the liver (a store-bought tub) before I put them outside for my girls. They love it. It also stopped them from stealing newly hatched biddies for a quick snack.

  11. I just love these easy and cleaver solutions! We had 18 chickens we are down to three. Mind you we had our chickens since my son was 12 he is now 20 so they have had good lives for chickens. We fed ours oyster shells as well which you can get at the feed store but it depends on how much the shells are in your area. Raising chickens have been fun and very educational for us as well as loving all the “free” eggs we get!

  12. I just love reading your posts! I will store this in my memory bank for when someday have chickens. Raw milk is the best and there are so many uses for it.

  13. Don’t forget the salt! I have a few hundred chicken, all organic. With that many, we had a few peckers! Lol. They were pecking at the hens tail feathers and lower back. We added a tbspn of organic salts to one of the 3 gallon waterers. It helped! A lot!!! Chickens have salt glands back by their butts, and that’s why they pecked! Just make sure you have fresh water available too! We had tried everything, but the salt worked for us. We also give them aloe Vera pellets and that helps keep em mellow.

  14. Hi,
    This is a dumb question…but HOW do you feed them the clabber? Do you just pour it in a bowl? Mix it into the grain? or what? Thank you!

  15. You can also use Kefir grains to clabber store bought milk. That’s what kefir is! My dog and I love it!

  16. can you make clabber with regular whole milk. I soak oats in water in the hot weather at least 24 hrs. then give them to my chickens it give them added fluid to help keep them hydrated. they love it. I also give them egg shells when i get a tray full they go in food processer makes a powder and mix it with food .I started putting oregano oil in their water. they doing good.didnt know about the purple beaks I’ll be checking that today. they love a pan of the pellets soaked is ice water in the summer. as you can see my chickens are spoiled. I even cook cornbread in the winter Love all the posts