Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Turned My Chickens Into Cannibals

Having chickens for the first time is like having a new baby.  Everyone wants to visit them; everyone asks a lot of questions about them; and finally, everyone who has ever had chickens gives you advice.  The other day at Costco, someone in the refrigerator aisle asked me if I thought it was worth it to spend the extra money to buy the organic eggs.  I said, "I don't know. I'm waiting for my new backyard chickens to start laying eggs so I don't have to buy them anymore."  He said, "Oh, you have chickens!  I used to raise chickens.  They eat everything, you know.  You're feeding them all your food scraps, right?  Make sure to feed them your scraps."  I got this advice from several chicken-raising veterans.

Actually, I had been wondering what I could feed them besides the store-bought feed.  I give them different raw vegetable scraps, but moving the coop around every couple days provides a constant supply of yard weeds to eat, so they aren't always enthusiastic about the vegetable scraps.  The other day, I gave them some watermelon rinds, and it turns out they love watermelon as much as my kids!  In short order, they ate everything right down to the thin tough green outer rind.  I got the same result with cantaloupe rinds.

Over the Fourth of July, we had some friends staying with us.  They used to raise backyard chickens and also encouraged us to feed them more table scraps.  They had some restaurant leftovers they didn't want to take with them when they left.  They said, "Just feed it to the chickens.  They'll eat anything."  I took their advice, and sure enough they devoured everything with gusto, especially the meat.  And then I realized I had just turned my chickens into cannibals.  They were eating chicken enchiladas.

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