Thursday, September 9, 2010

Experimental flock

I love my idiot dinosaurs so much already. I see why chicken people are all so nutty about their chickens. They are just as dumb as you'd think, but SO endearing!

I've spent all week playing "Will chickens eat this?" So far the answer is yes in every case. They eat watermelon, down to the rind. They eat cabbage. They eat cauliflower. They eat apple cores. They eat pizza crusts. And best of all, they eat ants.

There are one or two huge ant nests in the pasture, so I thought I'd see if the chickens liked ants. I brought a shovelful of ant nest to them. The chickens spent the next hour or so scratching that shovelful of sand apart and devouring every single ant in it, so I kept bringing them more ant sand. I am kind of hoping that the chickens range far enough to discover the ant nest - they're getting close.

Cabbage birds:

If you are a chicken owner, you are laughing at me. If you're not, you might think I'm mistreating them. I promise, they have scientifically balanced Purina Layer Mash available at all times, but ants and bits of sagebrush and cabbage are way more fun to eat.


  1. I'm laughing here!

    Do they eat orange things like carrots or Cantaloupe? My chicks eat anything but orange.


  2. omgosh omgosh, i need chickens. i mean, i'm afraid of them (sharp mouths) but we have fire ants EVERYWHERE here. i mean, like everytime i start to dig or do a little gardening, boom, underground ant nest. thousands of fireants start scurring away with their eggs in their mouths.

    i've been bitten horribly with painful infections all season, from which i've had to go to the doctor.

    today as i was working on our stall spot, ants were crawling hesitantly up my tools. looking for a new home.

    and they are now moving into my home. i mean, my house!

    i'm scared of chickens, and i don't think i can build a chicken proof fence all around our land, but what a dream to have a pet who would help me with my fireant problem.

    maybe they wouldn't help, because our ants build their nests underground/understones???

    maybe the chickens couldn't even find them? do you have advice for me?


  3. I know this sounds gross but when we would clean out the old straw & stuff in the spring in MT there would be lots of mice nests. Chickens love fresh meat. Better than any cat!! Grandma always said if its edible they will eat it.

  4. Chickens will eat anything -- that's one of the wonders of chickens. They are also dumb as last year's Manolo Blahniks, just so you know.

    lytha, I'm sure they would eat your fireants...and if you only have one or two, you don't NEED a fence, just a place for them to nest (EGGS!) and roost. If you feed them in a central location every day, they will keep their activities local. I'd avoid getting a rooster, though. Roosters are a pain.

  5. Chickens are true omnivours. I don't think they're much they DON'T eat. I'd love to have some, but we're not zoned for chickens (I can have a horse, but no other "farm animals", not sure how that works). I'm wondering if I couldn't convince hubby though and then bribe the neighbors with eggs. =) Just NO ROOSTERS!

  6. having just sold my last 300 hens, as my wife and I are giving the free range poultry business up. I can assure you, that they will attack anything!!!!! Even baby mice, rats and any small animal, that attracts their attention!
    So dont worry, feed them what you like, while we had ours, we had no refuse waste, apart from tins, beer cans and bottles!(mainly whisky)

  7. Lytha, how close are the neighbors? My ladies (please be ladies) could fly over any of the fences, but they stay by their house pretty well. Yes, they will definitely eat your fire ants!

    We had banties when I was a kid and they ate every bug in the yard. Flies, spiders, ants, fleas, grasshoppers - they are amazing bug control. They will eat what they can find, and they will come running when you flip over a stone and call them.

    I've heard they eat mice, but I never saw ours do it when I was a kid. I'm hoping these ladies will!

    My original plan was to compost manure and household scraps and make my own topsoil. Now I'm just going to run the scraps through the chickens first - coop litter also makes great compost.

    C, bribe the neighbors! ;)

  8. And Aarene - they are dumb as ROCKS. Definitely part of the charm.

  9. I think I want chickens just because they are dumb as rocks and that entertains me to no end XD

  10. Maybe you could make them a trail of food to the ant hills like Hansel and Gretel.

  11. I'm with you - chickens are fascinating! We have a huge picture window that overlooks our back pasture, which includes the chicken coop. I sit on the couch every morning with my tea and my breakfast and watch what we fondly call "chicken TV."

    Yes, they are dumb as rocks, and yet they are oh-so-smart about some things. And watching them chase after a madly-hopping cricket is just hilarious!

  12. How cool!!!
    I seriously need to catch up on your NEW place!!
    chickens sound great...hahahaha! They look soooooo
    Slim in the photo.
    What kind after they...don't answer that! bet All I have to do its read!
    So happy for you...and envious the dream girl, you are!
    Thanks so much got the sincere well wishes....I am still out in my bones...Wa mare was totally into the ride we had today....its been 3! Weeks!
    Slight -short step on injured side...but even gate. Healing nicely.

  13. Ok, now I'm home so I can comment properly...

    Peter, I haven't tried orange things! I will experiment further and report back.

    Cheyenne, 300 hens is a LOT to take care of. I am vaguely thinking about raising 25 broilers at some point, but that's pretty daunting!

    Andrea - do it!

    Terry, good idea. Jenj - I am very close to bringing a camp chair out by the coop so I can watch them in the morning!

    Kacy - glad you're feeling better!

    I think that's everybody? ;)

  14. funny!
    where I'm staying right now, one of the hens is always scamming how to get into the house and snack on the human food. She's perfected the art of chicken tiptoeing!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  15. Well, I can see now that chickens will have to be in our future sometime. I'm always up for easy entertainment, and animal antics are at the top of the list. The big bonus is the ant eating! I hate bugs. And as you know well, we have tons of the freaking little boogers here. And ants about like Lytha has to deal with too. UGH!!!

    Looking forward to more chicken action ;)

  16. LOL - and here I thought I was going to read a post on how you adjusted the flocking in your saddle all by yourself.......Obviously "chickens" is not what I think about when I think "flock".


  17. Grasshoppers - they love them and I love that they eat them.

    We got in trouble at one of the houses we lived in because my mom borrowed a few chickens from my grandpa for grasshopper control. Of course, the HOA had a *fit* about it, but it worked and we sent the chickens back to grandpa's in just a couple of days.

  18. Merri, when I was a kid we had peacocks and banties. The peacocks were forever sneaking into the house to stare in the mirrors. Nothing like coming around a corner and startling a huge bird in the living room!

    Mrs Mom - OMG the boys would love chickens. It might even take their minds off the Future Pony! I will let you know how the cats get along with the chickens... only one cat goes outside, and he doesn't stay out very long.

    Mel - you just don't want to ever think about chickens again, do you? ;)

    GunDiva - I can't stand grasshoppers, but I used to catch them and feed them to the peacocks. And cicadas!

  19. Another chicken lover!!!! I LOVE your chickens, they are so pretty! I've got road island reds, and then one or two... 'other' chickens. So dumb, so amusing, and so lovable at the same time.

    But yours look like 'sophisticated' chickens. So pretty! :)



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