Meat for the chickens
For some reason, when I first got chickens I had assumed they were vegetarian. After all, they ate the grass and leaves from their coop yard which was augmented by grain feed. An occasional bug? Well that hardly counted as meat, right?
I have since come to learn that chickens love meat. In fact, I’ve seen them go crazy for it.
I first started looking into this when a woman in one of my chicken workshops once told me the story of how her chickens seemed to adore ham. When she would put her scraps in the coop, the chickens would pounce on them. Of course, this discussion gave rise to the question that perhaps the story of Green Eggs and Ham wasn’t so farfetched after all?
I’m not saying that you should feed each of your flock members the 2 palm-size servings suggested by the United States Government for daily consumption, but I am saying to feed them your scraps of meat. We used to throw all the meat bits and pieces away, but not anymore all leftover meat (along with the rest of the kitchen scraps) goes to the birds.
And it doesn’t stop there. We live in an old house where the local mice had set up shop long before we moved in. If you are unlucky enough to be caught in a mouse trap at our house, your carcass is then unlucky enough to be tossed to the chickens. If your stomach is strong enough, when you watch, you’ll see the chickens tear apart that tiny carcass in a matter of minutes. The chickens are in meat heaven. At times it can even look very Jurassic Park-ish.
Because we have very cold winters in New Hampshire, during the cold months, I also augment our chickens’ diet with those suet (beef fat) bird blocks. As a tradition on Christmas Eve, we not only set out cookies for Santa but we set out decorated beef suet cookies for the flock. At other times, they simply get unadorned blocks. Not only are the birds getting protein from the seeds in the suet but they are also getting a bump of dietary fat, something that will serve them well on the below zero nights.
Bottom line? Chickens like meat and when they are creating a high-protein bundle in the form of an egg almost every day, I might even go as far as to say that chickens need meat. If you aren’t already, consider tossing your meat scraps along with your other kitchen waste into the coop.
Your chickens will love you for it.