Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Dose of Cute: Another Chick Pic


At just a few days old, they're already turning into foodies (taken 4/21/09)

© 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the baby gourmet foodie farm blog where this year we decided to skip giving our eight newly hatched chicks overprocessed commercial 'chick starter' food and went straight to a mixed diet of fresh meat, fruit, veggies, cheese, and yogurt with a side of ground up oats and flax and a sprinkling of kelp and natural calcium mineral supplement instead.

Everyone seemed very pleased with the menu.

Wondering what all you can feed chicks and chickens? I talk a lot more about what we feed our flock in the comments section below, and lots of other chicken owners chime in, too. And then the discussion continues in the comments section of this post. Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!

28 comments:

  1. what kind of meat are you giving the chicks?

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  2. Hi La Roux,
    Basically I'll give the chickens any kind of meat except chicken. : ) I usually stay away from pork just because I read years ago in one of my cat books that you shouldn't give cats pork because a cats' capillaries are 14 times smaller than ours, and they can't fit the pork fat (which is apparently different than other animal fat) through them very easily (or something like that - all I know is that one of our sayings around here is "Sorry! Cats can't have pork!) And I figure chickens are little animals, too, so just to be on the safe side. . .

    I give all of our chickens cooked beef and lamb scraps from our meals, and raw venison - which I also feed to the dogs and cats. I like to mix up homemade 'wet' pet food with raw venison and/or canned tuna or salmon and fresh and canned vegetables. I blend it all up with some kelp, garlic, and the livestock calcium supplement we use, and everybody loves it. The chickens go crazy for it. I've been meaning to write a post about my 'recipe' for ages because a lot of people ask me about it. Maybe one of these days I'll get to it - though a photo of the finished product probably won't be included, LOL.

    And of course they get to snack on all the Colorado potato beetles and tomato hornworms I pick out of the garden! : )

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  3. Just to round out what our chickens eat - in spring, summer, and fall they also get lots of fresh grass, clover, and edible weeds and greens from the garden. Most days I give them a scoop or two of plain whole oats as well. We quit feeding corn (which is in most pre-mixed chicken feed and chicken scratch) years ago because it's basically all GMO (genetically modified). What prompted this was that the chickens pretty much quit eating the corn.

    I used to mix wheat with the oats, but when wheat went from $9 (already up from $6) for a 50-pound bag to $20 for a 50-pound bag, our feed store quit carrying it.

    A friend of mine feeds her chickens alfalfa pellets soaked in milk from her dairy cow in winter so they get some green (which I thought was a great idea), but for some reason our chickens will only eat it if they're really, really hungry. I've tried soaking the pellets in water, too (even though they love dairy products), but they didn't like that either. : )

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  4. How do you know you have the proportions right? Or do you just go ahead?

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  5. awww, these are adorable! i heart baby chicks...

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  6. I've been wanting to keep chickens for years. These little guys are just too cute!

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  7. Awwwww... I am going to have to show my daughter these pics. So cute!

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  8. I love that you feed them your own recipe. I am hesitant to start raising small farm animals because it seemed like everybody feeds them with store-bought chicken feed. This doesn't really fit with my idea of having as closed loop a garden system I can manage.

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  9. Recently I was given a big bag of dried corn. I crack it in my Vita Mix for my hens, but some of it doesn't crack up too well and some becomes cornmeal. I wonder if the large pieces are too large for them. (I worry alot about my 3 pet hens and their diet.) One thing they love and look forward to everyday are the small bits of cheese added to their evening dinner of leftovers. I never before heard of giving them beef and raw venison. I am going to try that, but Tippy will probably frown at me thinking that should have been for him. He is our old Border Collie that eats venison often. We live near the ocean and go crabbing and dig for clams. The hens LOVE crab and clams, the parts we used to throw away. Don't you just love chickens?

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  10. Oh - very sweet. Did not know about cats and pork! Love how you are raising them.

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  11. Hm...very interesting. I buy my eggs from a local woman, who raised her price because the cost of feed went up. I wonder if I should tell her about your homemade recipe.

    Like Laura, I've been interested in getting my own poultry, but the idea of having to buy prefab food for them sort of made "self-sufficiency" rather less than what it should be. Also, one must wonder what chickens ate before "feed" was developed, eh? :D

    My only question is: meat? Really? I thought chickens were herbivorous, but they DO eat insects...

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  12. Very interesting. I pay a premium for eggs laid by hens that have NOT been fed animal flesh or animal byproducts.

    I can understand not wanting to feed chickens GMO corn. But I cannot understand feeding them other animals or animal products (cheese). Bugs and worms, sure. Our hens would even sometimes get a taste for eggs--those girls always ended up in the stew pot as soon as we identified the culprit.

    But if presented with an animal carcass, would chickens eat it?
    We never gave ours the opportunity, so I don't know.

    I do know that I don't like the idea of cows eating sheep, pigs eating cows, and chicken eating deer. Just doesn't seem right...

    Sue

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  13. Cute chicks. Love the racing stripe down their backs. What kind are they?

    Ramona

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  14. Dear dear Susan,
    I haven't sent a comment in AGES! But want you to know, that when a breath of fresh air is needed, I still turn to your blog and you haven't let me down yet!

    May Mother Nature continue to bless you and ALL your loved ones,
    Kristin

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  15. Seems like a lot of good feed suggestions here:
    http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Making-Poultry-Feeds-1.html

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  16. Hi Everybody,
    What a great discussion this is turning out to be. I think I need to write more about feeding our chickens in a future post.

    In the meantime. . .


    Okay, I went on so long blogger says I need to split this up into a couple of comments, LOL, so here't the first part:

    Anonymous said:
    How do you know you have the proportions right? Or do you just go ahead?

    I'm assuming you mean with all of the chicks' feed? I didn't specifically measure things out; rather, I concentrated on giving them a wide variety of foods with good nutritional value—fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and meat. To make my own sort of 'chick starter' to feed them when they were just a few days old, I put old-fashioned oats in my food processor (I would have preferred the whole oats I buy in 50-pound sacks as chicken and sheep feed, but they wouldn't grind up and I don't have a grinder) and then combined them with golden flax seeds (the kind we grind up and eat ourselves).

    I also mixed in a small amount of the granulated kelp and all natural calcium/mineral supplement we feed all of our other animals (the sheep, donkeys, and cows have free access to their salt/mineral/diatomaceous earth mixture all the time and only eat what they need), along with a pinch of the organic mineral salt we all eat. : )

    I went with the assumption (which I use when feeding our grown chickens) that a wide range of foods will create a well balanced diet—and the mineral supplements (kelp is awesome for all creatures) will ensure they're not lacking in any vitamins.

    I've found that both the chicks and chickens will eat what they want, leave what they don't, and stop when they're full.

    Hi Laura,
    I'm all for relying as little as possible on commercial feeds, though we still do buy some. Even supplementing with 'homegrown' feed is better than nothing. I still buy cat and dog kibble (even though I think it's crap) because 1)I don't always have time to mix them up homemade food and 2)feeding it to them does ensure they're getting the proper amount of vitamins, etc. because all of that stuff is formulated and added into the feed. But that doesn't mean real meat and real vegetables aren't (at least in my opinion) a million times better for your animals!

    I cringed last year when I was buying some vegetables from a couple down the road, and as she picked tomatoes for me, she kept tossing the 'bad' ones over her shoulder into the grass. I asked why she didn't feed them to their chickens (who are in a pen and so must be given all of their feed). She said that if she did, the chickens would stop laying because it would mess up their diet. I said nothing, but I would certainly prefer a few less eggs and a chicken eating garden fresh tomatoes (and all the other goodies from their HUGE garden) than overprocessed commercial food. But that's just me. ; )

    Sue,
    I DO love chickens! And I think it's great that you're turning your 'seafood garbage' into food for yours. I, too, worry about the chickens eating large pieces of things, though I've seen Whitey swallow an entire tomato hornworm more than once with (almost) no problem. That's why I soak the alfalfa pellets (the green things you see being fed to rabbits) in milk or water to break them down.

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  17. Hi Ellen,
    Yes, chickens have been around a lot longer than tidy little packages of chicken food! : )

    And they are naturally omnivorous, it's just that usually their only access to meat is in the form of smaller 'animals' like worms and bugs—which they LOVE.

    Hi Sue,
    I'm not sure I understand your logic—and I think you may be confused. As I said above, chickens are naturally omnivorous, which is why they so readily chase after bugs and worms and grubs and maggots when they have the chance. That is meat—just like beef and lamb and venison are meat.

    Our chickens are not allowed the luxury of foraging for their own meat because if they were out free ranging, the predators would kill them in no time. So until we get our portable 'chicken tractor' built (basically a secure little house on wheels that is open to the ground so the chickens can eat grass and weeds and scratch around for bugs—and prepare a new garden spot at the same time!), I do my best to feed them a well rounded 'whole foods' diet.

    Ideally the meat I feed them would still be alive (and is when I give them potato beetles and tomato hornworms), so I figure second best is raw venison, which comes from a wild animal.

    If presented with an animal 'carcass,' as you put it, yes, the chickens would peck at it, if the meat were still good. Think about a turkey vulture feasting on roadkill. . .

    I don't like the idea of cows eating sheep (or sheep eating cows) either. But maybe you don't realize that cows and sheep are naturally vegetarians. They should not be fed meat—though I know of at least one BIG name feed company that puts animal products in its beef feed, and that eventually causes big problems for the animals because it is wrong.

    Chickens and pigs, on the other hand, are natural omnivores. They go after meat because their bodies are set up to eat meat. Our pork comes from hogs that have been raised locally by a friend who feeds them milk from his own dairy cows. The meat is wonderful—lean, tender, and incredibly flavorful.

    And that, in a nutshell, is all we're trying to do here—with ourselves and our animals—keep things as close to the way Mother Nature intended as possible (without having to resort to all of us foraging every day for nuts and berries and wild game). : )

    Anonymous,
    Thanks for the great link on making your own poultry feed. I love this line:

    The truth is, if you are feeding commercial feeds, you are taking part in the most radical feeding experiment of all, one designed to answer the question: Just how unnatural a feed can we get away with?

    I'm not saying I'm an expert on this (or on anything!)—I'm just sharing what my thinking is and how I do things here. The 'proof' to me is that our beloved Whitey the Chicken is over 9 years old, which is about twice the average lifespan of a chicken (and more than 4 times the 2 years—tops—that most commercially raised laying hens are allowed to live). We have two other hens who are 8 years old and at least one was sporadically laying eggs until just recently.

    I figure we must be doing something right! : )

    Phew. I guess I got a little carried away. Time to finish unpacking the truck from a day in town and start evening chores!

    Thank you all for taking the time to leave your comments. I think they really add so much to this blog—and of course I love to read them!

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  18. Adorable! Sweet little chickies. I wonder how many will be roosters, and when you'll know? :)

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  19. wow, that really did become quite the discussion! thank you for getting into it for me!

    i have to agree with you on the fact that chickens are omnivores. i am a backyard chicken enthusiast and am completely guilty (though i think there is no real guilt to assume) of feeding my chickens meat, and they do love it. it is what it is. i definitely expect that they would go to town on a carcass is one presented itself, i've found them to be truly opportunistic.

    i had never thought to feed the baby chicks anything other than store bought starter, but am looking forward to trying your method next spring. i will also look into the price on whole oats, i would love to move in that direction.

    thank you!
    and as always, a delight to read about your farm!

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  20. Interesting discussion. I have a small flock (11) of free range hens, with the youngest being six, oldest being around ten years old. I supplement them with an allstock mixture, but would like to go to something more natural. I quit feeding egg pellets long ago, as it just seemed unecessary. They are still laying pretty good for old girls (usually 2-3 eggs per day, which is plenty for me). They also get all the scraps from the table, veggies, bread meat, whatever. Usually there isn't a large amount of any one thing. As for them eating meat---they will chase down, kill and eat a good size mouse if they get half the chance. Small snakes, baby birds etc. are all game as well if they have a chance. I am, this year for the first time having a serious issue with a couple of chicken's feet--it's called bumblefoot, and it's really a nasty thing. I'm guesing part of the cause is the consitently wet weather we've had. Anyway. Didn't mean to ramble, but I do hope you post your 'recipe' for the all natural pet food at some point.
    Take care,
    Tammy

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  21. Well...you learn something new every day. I know that most birds, that is to say the ones that come to our bird feeders, we tend to view as strictly seed-eaters (vegetarian), but in truth they not only eat lots of insects, but will greedily peck at deer ribs or other sources of meat/suet that are put out for them. So I guess it really comes as no surprise that chickens would eat meat. I guess I just never really gave it much thought before. Good to know, though, for some day I'd like to do chickens and would want to feed them "homemade" food as much as possible. Thanks for the great info!

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  22. Couldn't you just take all the extra beet greens and chard (I have an extreme abundance)and freeze it flat in bags to thaw and toss to them in the winter? How about kale? Will they eat that? I am now ready to get chickens since I don't have to tear out my hair in despair trying to figure out where can I get organic feed! Thanks for making it sensible.

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  23. Thanks Susan--this is fascinating.

    Right now we're feeding store-bought feed, but would certainly like to at least expand into a more varied diet once we move the chickens out to their coop. It's good to know that the corn wasn't necessary, whole oats work well, and kelp, by the way, is a great idea! (I just wonder where to get it...we fertilize our garden with it but I've only ever seen it for human consumption in feed-form, and expensive.)Please do post your recipe "soon" =)

    I look forward to it!

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  24. Wow... I love all the information on feeding your chickies. We are moving later in the year to Texas and i want to have some chickens. I had no idea you could feed them meat....I need to do a copy of all your information so i can have it all in one place. I love the natural way of taking care of your animals.

    You have a wonderful blog...i love it.

    Thanks
    Renee

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  25. I am dying of cuteness.

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  26. I am sooo glad to see you writing about this! We also have a farm and have been feeding clean meat for a long time (to the chickens). It is natural for chickens to eat meat and I have been educating our customers on that for a long time. Think about the better protein you are getting from chickens that eat meat (natural) versus the soy in a bag (unnatural).

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  27. what kind of chicken are they?

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