Stephen Kahn

New horizons in chicken feed

In Humor on October 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

I am “batching it” this week, my wife having trained away via Amtrak to visit her best friend in Portland. As usual the train was stopped by landslides and the train passengers had to ride a bus. In the meantime, the chickens and I are on our own. To show off how little they need Grandma, for the first time Ethel put herself on the roost by herself like a proper hen instead of trying to sleep in the nesting box like a child refusing to get out of its nursery bed. She placed herself facing the opposite direction as her sisters, but hey, one thing at a time. Both pullets are laying eggs now, so like big teenagers off to college, they are now “all grown up.”

I am done with violence for a while (aside from a visit to the dentist tomorrow morning), and I am contemplating science fiction and “the singularity.” But that will have to wait for a bit. I can’t seem to escape chickens for very long. So tonight: chicken feed.

A couple of weeks ago my wife trotted down to the local “so organic and healthful we can hardly stand ourselves” feed store and brought a new brand of chicken feed. The previous feed had assembled a collection of healthful grains and compiled them into pellets so the chickens would eat a balanced diet in spite of themselves (in their spare time in between pecking at bugs, worms, small slugs, mice, and wild weeds).

The thinking among chicken feeding brain trusts had apparently changed. The chickens should no longer be fed custom pellets. The new bag of chicken feed provides raw ingredients. The bag carefully explained that our chickens, not used to chicken feed in the raw, would have to be carefully introduced to eating their new disassembled feed.

I have no connection with this company so I am not trying to promote or disparage them. Here is their main web page: http://www.scratchandpeck.com/

Here, from their FAQ, is some information on the new thinking:

  • Why is your feed whole grain and not in pellet form?

A: In order to make pellets the grain is exposed to a high heat, steam process which we believe can degrade the nutritional value of the ingredients. We endeavor to offer feeds that are as close to nature as possible.

We were also given instructions on how to get the chickens to eat ALL their food:

  • I’ve noticed some powder left over after my chickens eat the grains. What is this and how can I get my chickens to eat it?

A: The “powder” left behind is all the little bits of grain that gets crushed, limestone (calcium), and other nutrients like Camelina meal, vitamins and minerals. Because our feed is as unprocessed as possible we do not add unnecessary binders or heat-treat the feed to get the ingredients to stick together. This powder is all natural and great for your chickens. Help them finish it off by adding to a treat like oatmeal or rice or just add a bit of moisture to it so they can eat it.

The type of feeder you use is also very important. We suggest using a PVC Feeder design to help contain these fines. These types of feeders have proven very successful with our customers!

As we have participated in the long and difficult process of educating/conditioning our granddaughter to eat a healthful diet (as long time readers of my previous blog are aware), it was a piece of cake (so to speak) to get the chickens to eat the new and improved food. They are doing fine. Next, they will learn to cluck,”Please” and “Thank you.” If Anne Elise can say those words, the chickens can also.

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  1. Have you ever seen the documentary, Food Inc? You would be so mad.

  2. good luck with that, as they say
    😉

  3. My wife made it back safely via train and is still speaking with me. The chickens are pecking dutifully at their new feed. My 67-year-old heart is still ticking merrily and sarcastically. Tomorrow I will go to a Red Cross meeting to encourage some teenagers to make a video encouraging people to prepare for the big earthquake that will strike our island one of these years. Tomorrow the sun may go nova, or may not. The view from your window is delightful. Carry on.

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