Lettuce Eat Strawberries and Avocados
My Chickens Begin to Eat Better than I
2 May 2011
I have begun experimenting with different food that come in the form of scraps from our kitchen when feeding the girls. And though I know well-enough that they should get the bulk of their food from the chick feed, I have to admit, their food looks less-than-appealing to me. It looks like rocks or dirt ground up in consistently small sizes of pebbles. It hasn't an ounce of excitement in the entire bag! And while taking the girls out to the garden and around the house, I noticed how insane they went when they would find something new to eat-- chicken football always ensued. So I decided it was time to give them a treat. Based on the wild peeping and fervent wing-beating, I think I hit the spot.
The first thing I gave the girls was chick grit. Chick grit? What the…? Well, it seems chickens don't have teeth-- I know, it was news to me as well. But the grit is important because it acts as teeth in their digestive system. It is important because things like fresh greens, vegetables and fruits may need some extra grinding to properly digest everything. The grit was received, neither ill or well. However, next came the lettuce. I was shocked at how excited these birds got over lettuce. It was really something. It was like I had brought a bucket of chum to a shark feeding frenzy! But it occurred to me that these birds have no idea what it is I'm feeding them. So after they savagely consumed the lettuce, I decided to throw in a toilet paper roll. It didn’t work-- well done Nature. My chickens aren't dump trucks, eating up whatever I offer.
Next I tried strawberries-- these come with a warning. If you feed your birds strawberries, please remember that you did so, because they will peck the bejeeses out of these things and scratch at them like they do with everything else (they scratch everything! It doesn't matter what they're eating, even out of a dish, they'll scratch the ground even though it makes no difference). So, I happily fed them the berries and bid them good night. I closed the coop door and made my way inside, a smile grew across my lips as I heard the noises of busy hens barely holding it together as they excitedly consumed their most recent buffet. It was this morning, though, that that smile was wiped away quickly.
I inspect my chickens every day. I only have three so it's quick and easy to do. I do it because I hear and read of horror stories of people losing birds to the most insane things like "pasty butt" or "impaction." (Look it up… it's pretty gross). As usual, Sybil lopped over to me in a hurry, got in my face and took the position she's become accustomed to these days. She will stand with her legs apart so that she's stable and she'll stick her head out towards me and relax her wings-- she does this because I will pet her head and neck and it seems she loves it. I don't know if a chicken can have dreamy eyes but if they can, Sybil has them-- she looks lovingly at me while I pet her. During this time, though, I noticed red on her legs. I stopped everything and got closer to see. It looked like blood-- fresh blood! It was bright red, which is why I felt it was fresh-- and so I looked at Helen and Edith-- they too had red on their legs! I thought maybe a fight ensued or there was a nail or screw or something catching them. I was ready to freak out when Sybil picked up a ratty-looking strawberry with her beak and tossed it out the door as if say, "We're done with these, thank you." I was alone at the time… just me and the chickens… but I felt very foolish. My chickens had strawberry on their legs, not blood. I felt like a big chicken.
Lastly was the avocado this morning-- well-received, I must say! Chicks dig green stuff! Now, I just have to remember that when they have avocado stuck to their legs, not to freak out and think they're going moldy.
The chicks are in the coop, and the coop is still in the garage, and it is May and it did snow this morning-- hence the chicks in the coop, in the garage. All of the doors are on the coop, though not all the doors are securable at this point-- as in locks etc. The coop still needs painted and sealed. I did most of the sealing yesterday while the girls played around me in the garage. I have already used three tubes of silicone on this thing and there is still more to do. My biggest concern are drafts, but soon, with all of this sealing, I will have to consider ventilation as well. Thankfully, moisture shouldn't be as much of an issue as gas exchange as our State is super dry!