Last weekend a neighbour was surprised to learn that chickens eat foods other than grain. OK, fair enough. Except that he grew up on a farm. With chickens. It is a good reminder of the general ignorance in our industrial society about what it takes to grow food, including what our food eats!
Since our chickens are (mostly) kept out of the main yard, their access to greens has significantly declined. They have access to the compost bin, and we bring them kitchen treats as they are produced (ranging from fresh carrot peels and broccoli ends to lasagna pans and restaurant leftovers), but fresh greens have been elusive since they ate their way through what naturally grew in their (800 sqft) pen.
Instead, we bring them fresh treats from the yard. Dandelion leaves. Chickweed. Fresh cut grass. Bugs. And spent plants, including the flowering kale. They don’t have teeth, and they aren’t as smart as crows who will step on their food while they tear off pieces. Instead they grab a leaf and shake it around until a piece breaks off. Smaller leaves they are able to ratchet in. But a bouquet of dandelion leaves or kale flowers is best served by holding on to the plant and letting them quickly pick it apart.
My chickens favorite food was the squash that got to big and tough, I would throw it out there and shortly it would a nice clean hollowed out bowl!
Royce (may I call you?) – I think carrot peels is my favorite to watch; the way they slurp them up like spaghetti noodles!
sure everyone but my daughters call me Royce. My favorite is when a bug makes the mistake of flying into the brooder pen with a hundred chicks! better than a bug light
Oh, gosh, they’re just so beautiful. Growing up, my nigohber always let her chickens have their run of the farm, and it always seemed so wonderful and quaint to me. I sure wish I could come take glamor shots of yours!
This is off topic, but i found no where else to say it – I think your cut cabbage banner image is excellent.
Dan – Sir Scott took that photo. I have thought of changing it to something more pastoral, but dang is it pretty!