Lactobacillus Serum

Taken from the now-archived “Unconventional Farmer” website out of the Philippines.  My additions to the Unconventional Farmer’s text are inserted with {}s. – David Braden

This is the workhorse of the beneficial bacteria we’ll be discussing here.  We use it for everything!  Foul odors, clogged drains, cheaper pig/chicken/etc farming, aqua culture, the applications are amazingly diverse.  Learn how to make and use this and you will have a powerful tool in your farming arsenal.

How to Make:

  • Get container, fill halfway with rice-wash.  {I use a quart jar:  ½-full will inoculate one gallon of milk; close-to-full will inoculate two.}  Rice wash is the water leftover when you rinse fresh rice.  For example, go buy rice, whatever kind, bring it home put it in a pot with warm water {I use cold}, swirl it a bit and then drain the [now milky colored] water.  The water is now a rich source of carbohydrates.  In this step, you can substitute rice with another carbohydrate source if you don’t have rice, as long as it is complex (don’t use simple carbohydrates like sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, etc.).  You can use wheat, barley, kinoa, other carbohydrates as the base to make your carbohydrate wash.  This wash will attract microbes from the air, among them lacto bacilli.
  • Cover loosely {I use a coarse-woven cloth and a rubber band} and let stand for a couple days to a week.
    • When is it done?  When you see a light film on top (molds) and it smells a little sour and forms 3 layers.  This is indicating the rice wash is infected with various microbes.  This happens more quickly in warm temperatures because microbes are more active.  Thus it is all relative since we don’t do this in controlled laboratory conditions.
  • The layers are distinct
    • Top layer; floating carbohydrates leftover from fermentation and possibly molds{I wait for noticeable molds}
    • Middle layer:  Lactic Acid and other bacteria (cheese buffs will recognize this as a makeshift “rennet”).  We will use this layer.
    • Bottom layer:  Starch, byproduct of fermentation
  • Extract the middle layer using a siphon.  This layer contains the highest concentration of lactic acid bacteria and lowest concentration of the unneeded byproducts
  • Get a new container {I use wide-mouth glass gallon jars}, larger than the first.  Take the extracted serum from the last step and mix it with 10 parts milk. {~12 fl oz of serum + the rest of the gallon jar of milk (leave ~2” of head space)}.  By saturating with milk (lactose), we dissuade other microbes from proliferating, leaving L. bacilli.  E. G. if you have 1 cup of the serum, mix it with 10 cups milk.
    • TIP:  The best milk to use is unpasteurized natural milk.  However, any milk will do, even powdered milk.  In our experience, the best is unpasteurized natural but just use what is available.  We just want to saturate with lactose to promote L. bacilli bacteria.
  • You want to keep this stage anaerobic as much as possible.  You can use something like rice bran, barley bran, wheat bran, etc sprinkled on top of the milk.  I use a sealed container with a one-way valve.  {Appropriate one-way valves are available at home-brew stores.}
    • Note:  Beware of bubbling during this phase.  It can lead to overflows if you filled to near the top.  It can go through the one-way valves so keep an eye on it and don’t do this step around nice things.
  • After about 1 week (temp dependent), you’ll see curds (made of carbohydrate, protein, and fat) on top of the milk.  The water below will be yellow colored—this is whey, enriched with lactic acid bacteria from the fermentation of the milk.
    • NOTE:  Microbes like L. bacilli are more active in warmer temperatures.  The curds you see are a byproduct of the fermentation process.  Fermentation is generally associated with microbial processes under anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions.  Now, L. bacilli is a facultative anaerobe, that is it can live and work with or without oxygen, but has less competition in anaerobic conditions.
  • The water below (whey + lacto) is the good stuff.  You want to extract this.  You can either skim the curds of the top, pour through a strainer, or whatever other methods to accomplish that.  {I siphon it and filter it through cheesecloth, half-filling quart jars.  Jars can be filled completely if the serum is not to be stabilized with sugar or molasses.}
  • NOTE:  Remember that the curds, or byproduct of milk fermentation by L. bacilli, are great food.  They are full of beneficial microbes like L bacilli.  Feed the curds to the soil, compost pile, plants, animals, humans—whoever wants them!  They are full of good nutrients/microbes.  No waste in natural farming.  {I have found the flavor of the curds to be less than stellar, but the chickens love them.}
  • To preserve at room temperature, add an equal part sugar/molasses to the serum.  So if you have 1L of serum, add 1Kilo sugar or 1 L molasses.  Otherwise store in fridge to keep.

Example Recipe:

1 L rice wash {+ time}

add 10 L Milk {+ time}

After rice wash and milk remove curds—around 1 L

Left with 10L pure LAB (lactic acid bacteria)

Add 10 kg sugar or 10 L molasses

= 20 L stabilized lactic acid bacteria serum.

What to Use it for and How

Before using, first mix 1:20 with water.  {~6.4 fl. oz. + rest of a gallon jug of water.  I use a glass wine jug at home and plastic milk jugs at CommonWealth.  Once diluted with water, the mixture will not last indefinitely, and should be used within a couple of weeks.} 1 part serum to 20 parts water {The water must be non-chlorinated.  Rainwater works great, or you can de-chlorinate tap water by letting it sit for a day or so, or by using a de-chlorinator—“Top Fin” makes one that is available through aquarium supply stores.}  Then follow instructions below. 

Odor Reducer:

Add mixture to {non-chlorinated} water at 2 tbsp/L.  You can mix it more or less, there are no rules here, just how we typically do it.  Apply to places where there is odor buildup.  The harmless bacteria “eat” the odor causing germs and the smell is gone!

Indoors:  reduces foul odors, including animals like cats, dogs, mice, other pets.  Stinky shoes?  Wet clothes from being outside?  Gym clothes that haven’t made it to the wash yet?  Smoker in the house?  Kill these nasty smells!

Outside:  use to control odor in pens—pigs, cows, chickens.  In barns, around the yard, etc

Clear clogged drains:  dump mixture into drain to clear clogs.  Exact amount depends on the clog, haha.  A few tbsp to 1 L {non-chlorinated water} works well.  For semi-clogged drains (like kitchen dink draining progressively slower), use at night and allow at least the night for microbes to work.

Keep septic clear.  Tired of having your septic system drained?  Add lacto!  Depending on size of your system, pour a few tbsp. to a few L into the toilet every few months.

Houseplants:  Mix 2-3 tbsp per 1 L {non-chlorinated} water and use that to water them.

Animal Bedding: Mix 2 tbsp to 1 L {non-chlorinated} water.  Mix with animal bedding to reduce smell and increase longevity.  In natural pig farming we use at least 1 yard deep of bedding so there is plenty of space for microbes to work.  Bedding consists of organic substrate like rice hulls, wood chips, sawdust, wood shavings, shredded corn cob, any other high cellulose, high lignin material.  Natural pig farming is a future topic on this site.  Spray until bedding is slightly damp but not wet.  How much you spray really depends on your climate.  If you are in a very dry climate you can spray a little more and mix in evenly.  Wetter (more humid) climates use a bit less.  Mix into the bedding evenly where necessary (in many cases, like with pigs and chickens, they’ll mix it themselves).  How much you use is all relative.  These guidelines are for pigs and chickens.  More extreme smells, just use more!  Want to spray less often, use more!  As we notice a smell we spray.  Thus, as pigs grow bigger, make more poop, we spray more often!  Dosage/frequency is relative and will depend on your situation.

Animals—Digestive/Growth Aid: Mix 2 tbsp to 1L {non-chlorinated} water, then add that mixture to animal’s water at 2 tbsp/L (so the animal’s water contains little less than a quarter tsp/L of lacto serum).  But this is very flexible.  The Lacto serum is not harmful, so it’s just about adding enough to be effective, without wasting it.

Improve digestive efficiency in humans and animals alike: Improves how you feel after meals, particularly meals rich in meats.  It’s awesome.  After eating, mix 1-2 tbsp lacto with a cup of {non-chlorinated} water and drink that.  Makes you feel so much better after!  Lessens that afternoon lull, gives you more energy!

Aids digestion in animals.  This is critical. Amazing results in pigs.  Save on feeds.

TIP:  If you really want to boost growth, mix 2 tbsp to 1 L {non-chlorinated} water and soak the food in this solution for a few hours to a few days.  Food is pre-digested when animals eat it, AWESOME!

Great results in livestock and poultry.

Plants—Growth Aid: When added to {non-chlorinated} water for plants, nutrient uptake efficiency is increased, which increases growth!

Improves growth of plants when applied as foliar spray and soil drench.  Improves their efficiency in uptaking nutrients so naturally, growth is enhanced.  With the use of these microorganisms, the nutrients you spray or drench to feed your plants become more bio-available and easily absorbable by the plants.  Technically, you can say that plants do not use organic nutrients directly.  Microorganisms convert organic nutrients to their inorganic constituents which the plants utilize.  Utilizing microbes, you will notice better plant growth and health.

Disease Resistance: This is a consequence of the increased efficiency of nutrients.  More nutrients available at smaller metabolic cost.

Lacto suppresses harmful bacteria in food/water that animals consume, enhances their gut flora so that line of defense is working optimally, etc.

Aid Compost: Mix 2 tbsp/L {of non-chlorinated water} and spray on compost pile to improve decomposition.  This is a huge topic that will be expanded upon in another post.  {I never found that other post.}

Aid Organic Fertilizer: Add 1-2 tbsp per gallon of water-nutrient solution.  Lacto consumes organic nutrients making them bio-available to plant roots.

Plants don’t use organic fertilizer!  Microbes break it down to inorganic constituents, and plants take those up.  This product makes that process more efficient.

Aquaculture: Lacto works in aquaculture just fine if you don’t have BIM available.  {I do not know what BIM is.}  Add Lacto at roughly 1 L per 700 m3 of fish-containing water.  Example:  you have a pond that averages 20m wide by 30m wide by 2m deep.  So, 20 x 30 x 2 = 1200m3.  In this case you would add roughly 1 L of BIM or Lacto.  {It sounds to me like it would be closer to 2 L in this example.}

Microbes digest fish wastes, cleaning up water and improving water quality.

Allows fish to grow larger due to digestive efficiency

Allows higher population of fish in the same amount of water!  Literally, increases the carrying capacity of your body of water!  This is awesome for aquaculture setups

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