« Last post by Farmer McGregor on Today at 09:27:12 AM »
As far as doomers and chickens go think of chickens as another form of energy storage. Instead of running a generator to run a fridge to store the eggs and chicken meat you are storing them "on the hoof". The cost of storage is incredibly low; chicken feed. We will usually be 3 months ahead on our feed purchases so it's like food prepping. Feed stores a long time and converts to fresh eggs. Chickens even offset their holding costs in several ways. First they produce eggs of course then they produce incredibly dense fertilizer. Those are obvious of course but we have almost zero food waste. People think of pigs when they think of feeding waste to animals but chickens work just as well. Here are some good examples. Leftover Oatmeal, rice, pasta, crusts, veggy peelings, even some meat will all be consumed reducing your feed bill and you food waste problem . Sure we compost as well but efficient practices should have you looking for every opportunity to find those 2 for 1 solutions to offset your costs and accomplish more for the same effort. SHTF my freezer should be full. I would store them in the pen and pick off my worst producers one at a time. All the while feeding the rest easy to store grains and preserving their hard to store chicken meat.You've nailed it down well, David.
Best regards, David Baillie
Some thoughts. Grain is not the native diet of chickens, other than the seeds that they would encounter in a natural setting. We use grains for all the reasons you mention: they're cheap to produce, easy to store and transport, fairly nutrient dense -- they get the job done -- except that they lack some essential meat-based amino acids that chickens need in order to stay productive and healthy. Look on your commercial layer ration ingredient list and you'll see 'dl-Methionine'. This is one of those, and the 'dl' part indicates that it is synthetic, made from petro IIRC. dl-methionine is the ONLY synthetic substance that has been allowed in organic production from the very beginning because it is so essential, and there are no commercially viable options for organic dl-m.
Chickens prefer animal foods; bugs, worms, carrion, etc. -- they will pick the bones clean on a carcass*, even another chicken's! Throw them a steak or chicken bone (it's okay to feed chicken scraps to chickens, they gladly eat each other when necessary, so it's natural -- unlike feeding cow parts to cows) and see if they don't fight over it, then peck it thoroughly to retrieve every last scrap leaving it looking sandblasted. Toss them your trapped mice (they particularly love the babies), though sometimes they have to explore that until they learn it, like most new foods. Meat scraps are the best food you can give them. Pet food is better chicken feed than chicken feed precisely because it's meat-based (at least the better ones are) but it's pretty expensive for that purpose. Feed sick chickens good quality pet food; it helps them recover.
We even cycle unwanted animal fat (kitchen grease) by putting layer mash on it and warming it in the oven so that the grease soaks into the grain. The girls love it. This speaks to one of the best points you make: chickens are a great tool in the cycling of nutrients on the ole' prepstead. Even the spent carcasses, feathers and offal compost down well and are nitrogen rich (you gotta do this right to prevent certain problems).
*Another discussion available here about the value of simmering chicken feet along with bones to make broth.