Chicken Feed

The chickens have been w/ us 7 weeks, and although confident in my ability to care for them, I’m still feeling like a teacher with a new class.  I can identify two of the chickens (the larger and smaller black ones) but the other 4 red ones, forget it.  I speak to them sweetly and try to be impartial.  Ooooh aren’t you cute, mumblemumblemumble.. and YOU, soandso….

You’ve seen their house.  Inside its confines they have an endless supply of food and we’ve taken to dishing out additional treats.  Our chickens like table scraps.

Their very favorite people food is spaghetti.  Whenever I make a pound of pasta, we always have a little bit left.  Not enough for a meal the next day, but more than enough to make some chickens happy!  I toss a few strands at a time and the chickens go WILD, trying to catch one before it’s gone.  I am convinced they think the pasta is worms.  Worms are GOLD.  Whenever a lucky chicken comes upon an unsuspecting worm, she snatches it and takes OFF! trying her best to flee from the rest of the feathered flock.  I knew about the pecking order, but what I didn’t know was how much chickens fight over food.  Mealtime in our chicken house could be a new reality show.  ANGRY BUFFET.  And watch out while feeding them b/c they also like to peck anything interesting on your person.  Rings, shoelaces and scabs. This morning one of them pecked my daughter in the eye.  Good thing their beaks are fairly round instead of pointy.

Our chickens like to eat not just chicken feed and table scraps, but pretty much anything they can cram into their craws.  Like pieces of plastic straw.  And zucchini.  We found this out the hard way.  NOT the straw; that I managed to wrestle away.  (To the motorist who threw his/her McDonalds sack on our lawn, introducing our chickens to their first piece of plastic, Sir/Madam: YOU SUCK.)

The zucchini was a discovery we made recently.  Our chickens live in their palatial chickomonium most of the time, but periodically throughout the day we let them free range in the yard.

They LOVE free ranging!  They scurry as a huddled mass, wading through the pachysandra, crawling beneath the bushes and even climbing the rock walls, vacuuming up all the bugs that come their way.  When we want them back in the pen, we herd them en masse.  Roxy (our Rottweiler) is a particularly astute herder, but truth be told, my daughters reign supreme as chicken wranglers.  Me?  I am the worst.  Watching me try to catch one of these chickens is like slapstick comedy; round & round & round the bush we go. (*cue silly music*)

Anyhoo – I got the brilliant idea a couple weeks ago to put our chickens in our fenced-in vegetable garden.  Instead of worrying about them while they free range unattended, they’d be at least semi-protected from predators behind the fence.  Additionally, they could eat all the pesky insects preying on our veggies, acting as our own organic pest control.  SO SMART!  You know I was self-congratulating myself thoroughly for coming up with this one.  Until Day 3 of Chickens in the Garden, when I found one of our prize zucchini half pecked to death.  And then his brother.  And his other brother.  Grrrrrrr..  No more chickens in the garden!!! (yes, i did give them the zucchinis.  which they ate alllll the way down to the skins, leaving just a wisp of shell behind.)

0 thoughts on “Chicken Feed

  1. McDonald’s sacks have ruined a lot of young lives. One of my favourite white kittens got killed on the road in front of our house when I was little because one of my neighbors said she thought it was a McDonald’s sack. I like that McDonald’s eaters are so especially unthoughtful that they could both be thought to toss their bags out of moving cars and also actually do it.

    Still lovin’ the chicken shots and stories!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your kitten, Katie – that’s awful. We lost a kitten in much the same way (run over in front of our house) but it was by a drunk on St Patty’s Day. F McDonalds & green beer..

      Glad you’re enjoying the chickens! They’re lounging on the stone wall out back right now. Too funny.

  2. I love this post! Way to go on getting some chickens!

    I’ve heard that if you fence in the tops of your plants with netting or hardware cloth that the chickens can’t peck through that they’ll eat the leaves and bugs around the bottoms of your plants… sounds too complicated for me to try though.

    My flock loves bananas best of all! It is their #1 favorite treat besides bugs.

    #2 is probably a tie between squashes (spaghetti, butternut, acorn, zucchini, pumpkin) in winter and melons (watermelon, cantaloupe etc.) in summer.

    You’re right though… they will try to eat anything they can. Silly birds. lol

    1. OOOohh I am TOTALLY trying out bananas. Good thing they’ve been banned from the garden – not only do we have squash and zucchini, but we’ve got watermelons and pumpkins too. Yikes! Thanks so much for the heads-up. Now to check out your chickens..

    1. We have friends that have chickens, so I knew they eat table scraps, but I never understood the variety. They’ll devour an entire zucchini with gusto. I mean, I figured goats would do that, even pigs (who eat anything) but chickens?! Oh yeah. I fed them the leftover mini wheats dust yesterday — you know that cereal sand at the bottom of the box. They loved it.

  3. I had no idea chickens had such voracious appetites –
    they sound almost as bad as me!
    (Annabelle often has to take McDonald’s sacks away from me… I’m always fooled… they smell so deliciously fry-like)! 🙂

  4. Oh, I want chickens!! That is going to have to wait until we eventually move. (Meanwhile, I can focus on babies.) Honestly, your backyard looks like chicken heaven. HEAVEN. No wonder they love getting out!

    Weren’t they balls of fluff, like, yesterday?

    1. I was thinking that too Hayden. From fluff to feathers in 1 month flat. They’re going to be full grown chickens by fall. Hopefully producing full size eggs…

  5. I was a little concerned that foxes (or whatever you have in your locale) might break into the chicken house. Then I saw Roxy. Foxes aren’t stupid: they won’t come within a mile. Or are foxes known as wolves where you live?

    1. Your comment made my husband laugh. We do have many foxes here, known only as foxes. We also have coyotes, who unabashedly leave their poo poo piles in our yard. Coyote poop is weird stuff – sort of littered with all bits of debris. Not that I get that close.

  6. My favorite picture is of Roxy, solomly doing his chicken herding duty back towards the house from the rock wall. “Lucky Dog, I’m such a Lucky Dog. Oh, Hum”

    1. Roxy has made a few swipes at the chickens, but we do remind her constantly – NO. NO NOOOOOOOO!!! Good thing she’s smart. (and we are too, we know better than to leave her in charge alone.)

  7. I just finished with all of your chicken posts. Quite the adventure. Awesome coop, poor cut leg, and who knew; chicks and leather? 😛 Bunny and I started our own chicken adventures last summer. 4 RI Reds, 4 Black Sexlinks (more aggressive than the reds), 3 Araucanas (friendliest of the bunch and they lay blue/green eggs), and 4 mixed lot bantams (3 turned out to be roosters, 3!!!). The one non male bantam turned out to be the kind with feathers all over their feet (not sure of breed name).

    Might I suggest the possibility of a garden just for the chickens? You wouldn’t have to tend to it at all. You could fence off an area around the chicken coop. Just a thought. 😉

    Are there going to be any follow-up leg pics for a before and after comparison?

  8. A follow post is a great idea. Her leg – so far so good. Looks like it’s not going to scar. But the chickens looove pecking at the scab.

    My husband and I have thought about building a moving chicken tractor – we have a good spot for it, apart from the grass itself. But wood stacking and other chores have taken precedence. Too many chores around here. It’s free ranging for now.

    The araucanas eggs sound so cool!! Friends asked whether that was the breed we got; probably better we aren’t going to get blue eggs. To be honest, I think they might put me off. lol I love bantams. So tiny, pretty and soft – sorry to hear about your roosters though! Hope they didn’t get the chop.

  9. Your chickens sound as if they’re providing lots of fun. But do watch the pecking. I knew someone who had lost an eye as a young girl. That’s a tough price to pay.

    1. I hope you’re not serious, Binky, but if you are BOY WILL I WATCH MORE CAREFULLY!!!!! What an awful tragedy. Imagine having to tell that story your whole life long?

  10. Aha, chikens that love pasta! When I read this wonderful post, it made me remember my childhood. My dad built a small chiken house at the back our house. Every morning we would check the nest for eggs. I can’t believe I still remembered that, I was too small then. Thank you for sharing and for helping me remember. God bless to you and your family.

  11. I am inexplicably enamored of your chickens. don’t know why… I’m not particularly fond of birds in captivity. (I mean, yours have it ggggrrrreeeatttt… but I was a bit traumatized by a peach-faced love bird we once took in. and one of the earliest stories my mother ever told me was of a rooster that bullied her every single day when she tried to get from the house to the school bus). Anyhow – they’re cool. And my favorite part is your “chicken herder dog.”

  12. Beautiful blog. I’m still looking around and read your story. I’m so happy you’re feeling better. Again, you are doing wonderful things here!

  13. Forgive me for missing this post.. Your chickens are beautiful and so cute running for freedom out of the chickomonium. I never knew chickens to eat table scraps. That’s unfortunate about the zucchini. And I can’t believe Roxy behaves around them. Good girl!

  14. I should prepare you for the following shock…they love eggs, as in, their own, and will eat them just as voraciously as they eat the pretty and beautiful foods before them. Now they will not eat their eggs in their nests or hoard a snacking stash for themselves, but should one accidentally slip from your collection apron, be prepared for a quasi-cannibal frenzy. I learned that firsthand working on a farm; I had too many in my hands and when I dropped one, they all scurried over to eat it – shell and all. This early discovery did return a good solution for an occasional quandary – what to do with sketchy eggs… Sketchy eggs are eggs that are not laid in the nest and therefore, you’re not entirely sure when it was laid, and therefore not sure if it’s entirely safe to eat. Sketchy eggs are ones that are occasionally found caked with poop on them. The farmer I worked under assured me that it’s totally fine.

    We also fertilized all the garden beds with the chicken coop poop-hay. Be extremely careful doing anything with chicken poop, but know that it can be used when the time comes for a complete turn over of your coop straw.


    1. Thanks for the lovely comments, all. Sorry I’m so slow to catch up. The chickens are doing well, albeit now short a member of the flock. Seems a hawk (or fox?) took one last week. Free range time has been severely curtailed, but they’re adapting.

      Thanks for the heads-up re: the eggs, Li. My daughters remind me of this too. The hens should start laying sometime next month, at the earliest. Now that they’re spending so much time in the coop, guess it’s less of an issue w/ locating the eggs. Good thoughts, right?

  15. merry christmas to you too and how did i miss this post about your chickens!! Obviously i have not been paying enough attention, have a great day. christmas is a great day for chickens, lots of left overs.. have fun.. c

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