If you have found any of the information on our site helpful, please consider a small donation or a purchase from our handmade store

EM Probiotics for Inexpensive Natural Health on the Homestead

I have to tell you that if it weren't for EM probiotics, I might have given up on raising animals 10 years ago. Before being introduced to this amazing gift from nature, I had struggled for 7 years raising livestock naturally on a homestead. When I embarked on homesteading, I had the opinion that if I fed my animals all organic feeds using herbs and great pasture management, I'd have the homestead free of disease. I confidently picked up a few "skinny" goats thinking, "Some good vittles and these girls will be good as new." I wasn't prepared for the modern chronic, debilitating diseases that have overcome our livestock just as they have people. We heartbreakingly watched the suffering and death of several goats, as I desperately researched and applied every natural and non-natural remedy I could find. There were no answers for what looked like Jhones disease. When we finally got the herd so that they weren't dying, they still were not radiantly healthy, on the thin side and prone to weakness.

I had been consulting with a natural animal consultant that served the entire Midwest, and purchasing their expensive products for keeping animals healthy without chemicals. It wasn't really a long- term option, but it was working better than all of the other natural animal supplements I had tried, including powdered probiotics, grapefruit seed extract, apple cider vinegar, herb mixtures for parasites and many of Hulda Clark's protocols. Then I found out about EM's, and started to try them out on the farm, before being courageous enough to ingest them myself. :-)

First the goats… the herd was thin and not thrifty. I decided to just give them as much free choice EM as they wanted, and they wanted LOTS!! I couldn't believe it!! I would bring them 5 gallon buckets and they'd fight to get their heads in, guzzling it down. 10 gallons for a herd of about 12 goats a day for 3 weeks, and the results were AMAZING!!! I was back in the homesteading business for sure, praising the amazing Creator for all Providence! My goats have been healthy and living out long, productive lives ever since. (Now they usually drink about a qt per day per goat.)

Not just for goats, however, the cows, horses, chickens, sheep, rabbits, dogs and cats have all greatly benefited from EM's, not to mention ourselves and our gardens!

If you've followed pictures on
our family blog over the past 8 years, you've seen nice fat and healthy farm animals, and they are being raised entirely naturally, thanks to EM's, DE (Diatomaceous Earth, Food Grade 50 lb. Bag) and natural salt (Trophy Rock Big Game Mineral Deer Attractant) and Sea-Agri (just in the past year, and I like what I've seen with it). Of course, our animals also get lots of LOVE, which is the most important ingredient in their care routine.

I could write a small book on the many miracles we've seen over the years. Most notably, we saved the life of our now almost 14 yo collie mix, who had a progressive skin disease as a young dog that had a prognosis of only getting worse, to the point that he was in need of being put down. Every year at shedding time, his skin would get bright red and he would lose more and more hair. He was a beautiful dog and it was such a shame. EM's healed him and he's never had a problem since. I've had friends heal their pets of severe flea problems with EM's, and we notice that our pets have fewer pests and have healthy, shiny coats with no runny eyes.

We've seen that the animals who need the EM's the most can tend to be the most reluctant to try it. For instance, we once picked up a couple of severely matted angora rabbits. After spending days trying to cut out and comb out their mess, we realized that the problem was futile. One of the two rabbits loved the EM's in her food, and ate it up quickly. The other refused food with EM's, and needed to have it introduced very slowly. The first rabbit's mats started falling out naturally after a couple of weeks, whereas the second rabbit remained matted. Suddenly, however, her liking for the EM's picked up and she started eating it eagerly, and then her mats fell out in a couple of weeks as well.

Horses that have come to us have had worms expelled just as if we had used a chemical wormer, and we've seen general health and hoof improvements in most of the livestock that we've purchased over the years. Now I can pretty confidently take in a "less than healthy" animal, and improve even chronic, stubborn conditions.

OK, so, what exactly ARE EM's?

EM's (efficient microbes) are a blend of beneficial microbials that were studied by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Higa. I have read his book, An Earth Saving Revolution, and found him to be a sincere and humble man with some exciting knowledge to share. "EM's" has now become a common term throughout the world to denote any similar brews that people intuitively concoct using their own resources, as my favorite gardening book Growing Vegetables with a Smile (Gardening with a Smile, Book 1) describes. It's very empowering to get comfortable with EM fermentation, as it is very inexpensive to free and keeps parasites at bay while enhancing health of animals, gardens and people.

EM's are microbials found in nature that are combined to make a particularly potent and "effective" brew. They're a combination of beneficial yeasts, lactobacillus and phototropic bacteria. The purple or red photorophic bacteria are powerful antioxidants which can withstand extremely high heat and pressure. When Dr. Higa was doing his experiments, he found that the regular process of washing his petri dishes did not clear the effect of the EM bacteria, nor did higher and higher heat, to the top of his kiln range. This is where the idea that these can actually be locked into a ceramic was originated. These ceramics can be purchased for very little and will structure water and even remove chlorine. EM-X Ceramic Pipe 35mmEM-X Gold Beverage Stone We add a little of this EM ceramic powder to
our soap.

To get the most from EM, I extend it. That means, I take some of the original, 1 quart EM-1 Microbial Inoculant, add some molasses and water and allow it to ferment. That becomes an extension, sometimes called AEM. The basic extension recipe is 3/4 c. molasses, 3/4 c. EM and water to fill a gallon jug. Allow it to sit at room temp, or up to 105F, until the pH falls below 4 ( pH test strips can be purchased
here). Bulk molasses, for home and farm use, can be purchased at feed mills. Food-grade molasses tastes better in EM brews that will be consumed. This can be purchased in bulk from co-ops or in small quantities: Golden Barrel Blackstrap Molasses, Unsulphured - 32 oz It usually takes a few days to ferment, but can take up to a few weeks (though this has never happened for me).This extension can then be extended out again. Dr. Higa says that by 3 extensions the AEM starts to look quite different than the original. In my opinion, it may be different, but it's still great for farm use. I occasionally add a little of the original to my extensions to "keep it true", but for farm use I continue to extend for months on end and have had wonderful results. I have had a gallon of original EM last me over a year, and with it I have produced around 4000 gallons of AEM.


We add approximately 2 c. molasses and 1 qt AEM's to our 100 gallon water tanks daily (in the wintertime, the molasses is skipped, but it's necessary in the summer to keep the brew from going bad). We usually don't let the tanks get empty, and never have to clean them. This keeps bugs from breeding in the tanks and the animals love it. Their coats are soft and they are less bugged by flies and ticks. Their manure becomes healthier for the pastures. You may find that you can reduce or eliminate chemical wormers through the use of EM's, proper pasture management and nutrition (i.e., Real Salt or ocean minerals, good organic hay and Diotamceous Earth).


We spritz down the chicken house with EM's about once every week or two. This keeps the manure pack healthy and free of bugs, odor free and ready for the garden.


EM Bokashi can be used as is for a feed supplement, or it can be used to reclaim or enhance other things for feed or for compost. It is typically made on bran, but other substances can be used as well, including sawdust, which I will be trying myself soon.

To make bokashi, fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full with bran, pour on a pint of molasses, and a quart of AEM's. Add very warm water and stir up with arms eventually reaching to the bottom of the bucket. Bran should be moistened and darkened, but not wringing wet. Seal tightly and put in a CONSISTENTLY warm/room temp area for 3 weeks. It should have a fresh, alcohol-like smell when done. Mold is a sign that there was too much air or inconsistent temps. A little green mold may be acceptable, as long as the smell is good. Harmless white mold sometimes forms on top. Judge by the smell.

To use bokashi... for compost or grains which are to be converted to animal feed (works even for moldy or spoiled grains), put scraps/grain in bucket and intersperse with a few handfuls of bokashi every 12 inches or so. Seal tightly and leave at consistent room temp until smell is pickle-y and pleasant. Takes about 3 days, typically.

If you'd like to buy bokashi ready-made, it's available here: 5lb Pouch Bokashi


(This is a standard, "quickie" recipe, which makes a soap suitable for home use. It is not the same recipe that we've developed for sale by Home 'n Stead.)

You'll need:

7.2 oz lye
2-1/2 cups (20 oz) EM
2 qts. vegetable oil (can be salvaged oil, or can substitute any amount of liquified coconut oil or lard, but it must be room temp or only slightly warmer)

Paint stirring stick
Plastic gloves and eye protection
2 gallon plastic ice cream pail for mixing
Mold(s) for soap (I use whatever plastic containers I have around)

Put on gloves and eye protection. Put EM in ice cream pail, slowly add Lye, stirring with stick. Once Lye is dissolved completely, solution will be hot. Allow to cool for ½ hour or so, or place in a cold water bath to speed up the process. Once Lye solution is just warm (about 90-100 degrees), slowly add oil while stirring. Stir until thick as salad dressing; this may take a little while, and you can stir for a few minutes on, few minutes off until it starts to thicken a bit. Pour into molds. Put molds in airy place to dry a couple of days. Score and cut and stack to dry for a few weeks. Can start to use it after a couple of weeks.. sooner for laundry.


I start with a fresh batch of strong AEM (activated EM, by "strong" I mean that I make it with ratios of 1-1/2 c. each molasses and EM to a gallon of water, and by "fresh" I mean made within the past 2 weeks).

For human brews, I use the same ratios as I just mentioned for a strong brew. Then, I add whatever goodies my intuition leads me to. I have accumulated more and more of this good stuff as I have gone along.. you don't need to have any of it to start, just go ahead and make strong batches with food grade molasses and start using it. I add it to my homemade soda, or mix it with honey and water, and usually drink 4-8 oz a day. I also add it to most of my cooking, in small splashes, and make mayonnaise with it. I also use it in a spray bottle for cleaning (you can use your agricultural grade for that).

You can brew it at room temp, but you get best results if you have a warm place to brew. I used to do it in the gas oven with the pilot light on, but, since we've moved, I brew it in the oven with a light bulb on.

As for the "goodies" to add to the brew, I have used azomite (1 quart EM-1 Microbial Inoculant) and pascalilte clay, turmeric, chlorella, cheyenne pepper, concentrated grape juice, wheat bran, rice bran, kelp, real salt, em ceramic powder, misc. herbs and nutritional supplements. The brans are the "staples" and I usually fill the bottom of the bucket with a good inch or two of
those to start. Everything else is in much smaller amounts.. pinches or spoonfuls here and there. If there's a particular herb that I feel that I need a concentrated dosage of, then I may make a EM tincture on that herb, by covering it with EM in a jar and placing it in the sun for a day or two.

As for buckets for brewing, make sure you don't use glass jars with tight-fitting lids, as they are prone to explode. Flimsy plastic is best avoided as well. I usually use sturdy plastic gallon jars or 2-gallon ice cream buckets. I've also made it in 5 gallon buckets.


We also
use EM's in our building process, as EM's have been shown to increase the longevity of building materials, and create a healthier atmosphere in the buildings where they are used. We used our own EM brews in our cob mixtures, paints and plasters, and also made use of EM ceramic powder, an inexpensive version here: TERRA Powder 1.5 pound


The enzymes in EM's help to break up stains, and are useful for pretreating clothes as well as adding to the laundry rinse cycle as a freshener/odor eliminator. EM's are great in the toilet bowl!! It's amazing how they continue to act well after the cleaning process. They will greatly reduce the elbow work needed to scrub the bowl, if not eliminate it completely. They're also great for the bathroom, kitchen and floors, everywhere where you want a protective layer of beneficial bacteria. They're supposed to be helpful to reduce rust, though I can't say that I've seen that aspect in action.


Did you know that msg, that deadly "flavor enhancer," is actually the chemical "look alike" to a naturally occurring substance in fermented foods? If you've been wondering why your homemade cooking is just not quite as good as "store-bought" it's because they're cheating with an addictive chemical that's fooling the body into thinking that there's something really good for it in there. When you add EM's, or other fermented foods, to your savory recipes, your family will notice that "something extra" that had been missing, and you'll start getting compliments like never before. It's great in stews, stir fries (I use it in place of soy sauce or tamari), gravies, and even
homemade mayonnaise. Anywhere where you used to use vinegar, you can now substitute your own EM brew. Not only does it enhance flavor, it also improves nutrition AND greatly improves the longevity of leftovers in the refrigerator, while protecting against explosions of bad bacteria.

EM in the SHOWER

EM makes a great hair rinse, giving an extra shine and manageability, and helps promote a healthy scalp. Works especially great after shampooing with
EM soap.

EM in the GARDEN

EM's and EM Bokashi make great garden amendments, and help your compost pile to stay clean smelling and work quickly. When applying it to the garden, dilute it 20 times with water. You can brew your own versions using your activated EM, or capturing wild yeasts, or even using bread yeast. Here's
a blog on how some folks in Russia brew their garden EM's.


EM's are just one expression of collecting local bacteria to make beneficial brews. Throughout the world, people are rediscovering the power and simplicity of fermenting compost, food and beverages to restore balance and health, to transmute toxins and to provide nourishment to eco-systems of all kinds, including our bodies.

For more information on various uses of EM and recipes, visit
this website.

Korean Natural Farming is a counterpart of Japan's EM's. Bryan McGrath offers many very easy to follow You-Tube videos on how to make IMO's, beneficial indigenous microbes.

I hope you will give EM's a try, and start to experience the healing, freeing benefits that Nature has so graciously provided!

Check our
blog tags for more posts on EM's!!