I saw a tiny excerpt in the recent Audubon magazine suggesting feeding fish with a breweries spent grain (mostly steeped malted barley, and maybe some other malted grains). I'm having a tough time finding much info on the topic and am wondering if anyone else has tried this?
What I do know:
-Folks are using the spent grain with the addition of some other things like hay, or rice hay to grow mushrooms on. Once the mushrooms have been harvested, the substrate is fed to livestock as it is easier for them to digest by some biological process the mushrooms have performed. Downside: the spent grain must be sterilized or autoclaved, maybe there's a cheaper/easier method for this sterilization process?
Some good info: Wet Brewers Grain
2007 Fall Update: We were fortunate enough to finally develop a source for local web brewers grain (WBG). WBG is a byproduct of brewing beer. It is a highly nutritious feed for ruminents. As it is a "waste product" it can often be obtained for little to no cost if you are able to pick it up from the brewery. The problem is that even the smallest micro-brewery often has thousands of pounds each week. So they usually want on large producer to take it all. We were finally able to work with a wonderful local brewmaster who was willing to let us form a co-op of small producers. Now, each week, three of us show up at the same time to have the 1000 pound tubs loaded into our trucks, we then take it to our farms where other small producers can come fill their bins. Poultry and pork raisers as well as gardeners (it makes marvelous compost as well) are just some of the happy users of this "free" grain source. We hope this model will work for other brewers and farmers.
2008 Update: The WBG has been working well for us. Here are some things we have learned when feeding WBG:
To prevent mold growth- drain the grain as well as possible, pack tightly, and cover well. We use a piece of black plastic and press it down on the top of the grain and then cover that as well. The more you can limit oxygen, the less likely it will mold. 2.
Do not feed WBG that is off in color or aroma. We scoop the top layer off before every feeding and smell the grain below it. It should smell like cooked cereal grains. 3.
Consider adding dolomite lime for calcium if you don't think the rest of your ration will bring the ratio up to 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. WBG content varies, but it is not high in calcium. 4.
Remember, WBG is high in protein- up to 23%- but low in energy (fats). So if you have animals that need more energy feeding, you will have to accommodate this need. 5.
I still haven't found any info about feeding fish or trout specifically with the spent grain. I'm partial to the trout thing because I live in the NC mountains and have a neighbor that is willing to let us raise trout in her pond, but we don't want to do it if we're buying standard grain feed. We're also considering doing one of those "bug fans" to at least supplement the fish diet. Anyone know any other natural methods for feeding fish, maybe some plants we could grow in the pond?