Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Chicken's Version

I recently read Folks, This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin, and besides deciding that every American needs to read this book (more on that later), I was kind of hit in the head with something I knew already: chickens are omnivores!  While they get plenty of bugs out on pasture during the warmer months, chickens that are kept confined in the winter - and even those that free-range - aren't getting the animal protein they need.  In his book, Salatin recommends shooting a squirrel once a week and feeding that to your flock.  Sounds nauseating, but it's a free feed supplement and the chickens need the protein.  And they have great fun with things like that (wink, wink).

Option #2 is to take advantage of our non-existent winter and do some yardwork.  Byron dug up the wilderness in the middle of our driveway to prep it for some landscaping this spring.

Guess what likes to hide under all that lush mulch?

Grub worms!  (Please tell me you weren't snacking on anything when you viewed this photo!)
Byron found dozens of these and the Rhode Island Reds, who are in the hoophouse, were in paradise.  We're finding that they get bored in there, which has resulted in an environment every bit as harsh as the high school cafeteria.  Just this morning I put a wheelbarrow full of leaves in there so they could have something to scratch through.  Everyone likes playing in the leaves, right??

I'm linking up with Rural Thursday at Two Bears Farm and A Rural Journal!

Rural Thursday Blog Hop


  1. Oh yum, grubs before 10 am ;-)

    In my wildest daydreams, it never would've occurred to me to shoot a squirrel for my chickens. We have given them the carcasses of fish we've caught though.

    Thanks for linking up with Rural Thursday again :-)

  2. I'm not familiar with what chickens has been decades since we had Bantams on our farm. As for protein, I'm curious as to what those grub worms do, if allowed to live?

    1. Evelyn, I think they're general pests. So getting them out of the garden is a good thing!

  3. I give my chickens the grubs that I dig up from the garden in the summer and fall but Joel Salatin is right, I never thought about protein for them for the winter!

  4. It's so true that the birds get bored in winter without much to scrounge for -- this is a great idea! I usually feed them the scraps left over for dinner -- the ground is way too hard right now to dig for those yummy grubs!

    Thanks so much for sharing with us at Rural Thursdays. Great information!

  5. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I really am enjoying your blog!

  6. I really enjoyed the laugh - and the lesson. I recently heard Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dilemma, speak in St. Louis. I bet he'd tickled to read your chicken's version, as he has a wonderful sense of humor.

  7. OH, what lucky chickens! I hope they got them all.

  8. I am also reading Folk, this ain't normal. I agree that it should be required reading. So wish I lived closer to Polyface Farms to visit.