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pigeons as chicken feed?

 
Mark Chadwick
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Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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So I get pigeons stealing my chicken feed.
"The problem is the solution".
Kill the pigeon, feed it to the chickens.
Is this wrong?
I did it today, the chickens went nuts for the chopped up pigeon! And the feathers went into the compost.

Am I asking for avian spongiform encephalopathy? Mad Chicken Disease?

What could possibly go wrong?
 
Maddie Pulver
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this is actualy perety bad for them. if you think about it that is like making the chickens canibles. i would asume that it would eventuall make the chickens prefer meat instead of their real food and this could make a big problem for your family.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Well Maddy, chickens are omnivorous. They eat bugs and carrion normally.
My question is more about the risk of disease from the wild birds.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Maddie,

Like Mark stated, Chicken (Jungle fowl in general) are omnivores, and to be more technical, they adjust depending on season and access to food sources, ranging from insectavora, to herbivore. They are extreme carrion eaters, as well, and eating maggots and other carrion insects that feed on it is often a preferred food. Also, you are correct they are very cannibalistic. Any time they are allowed to consume a more natural diet the healthier the chickens are.

Now you may not personally like this, that is fine, but please don't project that there is a health risk to either the animal or humans that consume them and there eggs if they are allowed to feed in a more natural way. If the pigeon is a clean animal, then you can feed them to your birds, yet the issue is that pigeons (unless they are your own) are seldom "clean." I would share that the traditional way to feed trout is on the maggots that fall from carrion racks over their tanks or ponds. My chicken and ducks also relished this very special treat. Yes you do have to get use to the smell...and why at one time, folks hated have fish growers anywhere near them...

Regards,

j
 
Mark Chadwick
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J, so feeding the pigeon carcass directly is illadvised. Is that because of a higher risk of disease transfer?
I have no aquaponics setup and no plans to aquire one as I don't like fish much. Is there a low odour method of maggot production you can suggest. Here in SE Australia we get plenty of flies in the warmer months, although right now it's the start of winter with snow down to 3000 feet.
I've been getting the waste off my butcher's bandsaw to give my chickens a protein boost as they finish mounting. They also seem to love to pick the bones from roast meat clean too.
The pigeon idea was really an opportunistic use of the pest species, low frequency and low effort with a high percentage of usefulness and negligible waste. My better half won't be happy with a carrion rack for maggot production if there's a stink factor.
 
Michael Cox
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Have you ever looked into Black Soldier Fly? Odourless and clean bug production from food scraps, carcasses and manures. They even self harvest directly into your chicken pen if you set it up properly.

They need a warm breeding season so it is climate dependent, and I'm not sure if they are in Australia.
 
Su Ba
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Mark, my chickens catch and eat birds all the time. In the afternoons they are released from their pen to forage. The top thing on their minds is meat. I've seen them eat bugs, lizards, geckos, worms, grubs, and even run down mice and consume them. Last year I added some older hens to the flock who had experience catching small zebra doves. I've seen the evidence of them catching them on my place. I've even seen the flock catch a spotted dove, a larger bird. One hen grabbed it by a wing feather, then the flock mobbed it, killed and consumed it. By dusk there was only wing & tail feathers plus a skeleton left.

I've never seen evidence that there is a problem with the flock eating raw wild birds. As a precaution I deworm the flock a couple times a year and add a bit of insecticide to their dust bath from time to time just in case they pick up mites or lice.

I feed the flock cooked roadkill and trapped rats & mongooses. But I don't have the opportunity to cook the birds they catch themselves. But it hasn't bothered them as far as I can tell.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Thanks Mike. I've read about the BSF but I've not heard of them in aust.
Su, very helpful thanks. I'm going to see if I can develop a means of trapping the pigeons as until now I've just been able to grab the odd one that's been in the coop when I've been out there.
 
Michael Cox
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Found using google...
Distribution - This fly occurs throughout most of the Western Hemisphere and the Australian
region from Samoa to Hawaii. It is likely that you have these in your area or worm farm but haven't
noticed them.


So you may be able to get them set up.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Interesting, I need to look into this. Thanks.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Well Mike it seems BSF's natural range is in our warmer North, though global warming may change that!
Thanks for the lead.
 
Johnny Niamert
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So I should be putting the mice caught in snap traps into the chicken tractor instead of into the compost pile?
I haven't checked the traps from last night yet.
 
Su Ba
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Johnny, give it a try for a while. The hens may not know that they edible at first. One of the people in my area with a small flock started supplementing his hens with trap killed mice, but at first the hens were actually afraid of them. So he dipped the mice in gravy before putting them into their feed dish along with other kitchen scraps. The hens caught on. Steve is glad that they eat them since he lives right next to the national park grass lands which are overrun with mice. Steve's dozen traps get filled each and every night!
 
Mark Chadwick
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My chooks didn't know pigeons were food until chopped up, once there was some flesh exposed they got the idea though. Red equals edible to chickens!
 
Johnny Niamert
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I was gonna give them a 'rough chop' to get the point across.

Of course, nothing in the traps today. Had to dig up some worms to give them (and me) some entertainment.
 
Mark Chadwick
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All I have to do to get the chooks going on worms is appear in the run with a fork. I've got to be careful not to spear the girls as the jostle for position to be first in line to get at the worms.
 
L. Zell
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I would be concerned about parasites/disease feeding birds to birds.
Mice make an excellent chicken feed. Mine fight over trapped mice. A live mouse is hunted down and bashed on the ground until dead, then down the hatch. I'm convinced that the folks who designed the velociraptors in Jurasic Park were modeling them after chickens.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Well that was really the thrust of my question to start with.
But are the concerns based on knowledge and does anyone have science to offer?
Plenty of birds prey on birds. Do we count chickens as predators?
Perhaps I could breed mice to give them the protein boost?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Mark...Great post thread and great questions!!

It seems whether I am dealing with folks in facilitating designing architecture, teaching indigenous life skills, discussing animal husbandry, or you name it...half my time is quelling "preconceived notions," "personal phobias-psychological barricades" and personal mindsets...not "facts"....

When I was still letting people pay me to take them up Mountains and cliffs...there was this thing call "perceived risk...actual risk." The later is what kills you...not the first, yet that is what everyone is freaking out about. In the jungle the number one killer for trekkers IS NOT going to be a snake, scorpion, crocodile (though all of these are dangerous) it is a falling tree, branch...or for that matter an orchid! (lost a friend to a falling orchid...very sad...)

Here are some simple realities in "parasitology"....everything has parasites...you...me...and the bee flying by. What is important is a homeostasis. Would I feed pigeons from New York City to my chickens (in my case Ravens and hawks) no, not if I could avoid it...yet I am more concerned with heavy metals and other toxins than I am there parasites. I would also point out that parasites are "species specific" for the most part...some even to a ssp level. Do some "cross over" or have other species in their "life cycle" yes. If you have a known "problem" in your area...well avoid it or find out why it is a problem...most likely over medicating or pesticides...and not developing a natural resistance to it.

Lets face it...the average bird in a working flock is lucky to live 5 years...it being healthy, and happy (and well feed) is my goal...it can live with a few little parasites while doing that...all the more natural the system. We as a species with our "bathing 3x a day"....hand sanitizers...pesticides...antibiotics...etc...have gone overboard and become OCD with all this silliness...Rodentia carry just as many parasites (if not more) than do Avids...

So the bottom line is...if Marks Pigeons are country pigeons... trap away, chop and feed. Chickens are without a doubt PREDATORS in just as big a way as a hawk or an eagle...probably more so, as the later are dumb as stones, and chickens can be really smart! Frankly my Varanus are way smarter than the very stupid Eagles and hawks I have worked with...and almost as smart as the chickens...maybe as smart. No need to breed mice...just learn Rodentia behavior and you can trap them without bait almost as well as with it. Rodents are scent navigators, most have myopic vision..so...travel by touch...learn these subtleties in the ethology and your ability to inveigle them will increase and they will literally walk into you various pitfalls.

Warm Regards,

j
 
Mark Chadwick
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Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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Thanks J. These are definitely not urban pigeons, we are deep in market garden country. I have always thought of pigeons as flying rats. My starting point was about the risks of disease transfer.
DE in feed is my way of dealing with parasites, and it seems to be effective.
The discussion has led me to consider real rodents, which I hadn't considered. For that I am grateful.
With Mediterranean summers and cold (by our standards) wet winters the prospect of reducing pest species snd gaining a free protein source remains my objective. We are out of the BSF natural range, but road kill is plentiful. However I don't prefer to use fresh meat and pigeons do seem a suitable source.
I count myself lucky that the epiphytes we grow lack the ballistic mass to be of concern!! Your input is appreciated.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Should read DO prefer
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I was just asked something that many do..."can you eat Pigeons?" Oh boy! can you!!! There is nothing that beats a fresh squab for delicate flavor, and taste. It is the gourmet fowl of many a table. I think I shall start a post just to address this little fact to so bring your thoughts and comments there...

I have always thought of pigeons as flying rats.
They maybe...but rats are great eating especially with ginger and sesame sauce, or honey and rosemary glaze. Cuba's banana rats are as big as a small cat (loved eating them with just a little salt, and garlic.)

My starting point was about the risks of disease transfer.
Possible...just like many other worries in life...just not high on the list of concerns. Humans are spending way to much time "worrying" about everything...instead of just thinking positively about things. We are now learning that what you "think" about your food is as (or more) important than what it actually is...the power of the "placebo effect."

DE in feed is my way of dealing with parasites, and it seems to be effective.
DE This isn't a pesticide or antibiotic is it? Please don't use those if at all possible...it is not part of the Permaculture-Natural way of farming...

...road kill is plentiful...
And it is wonderful stuff!!! Great to eat for all, and a resource that I just can not imagine folks passing by...which they so often do. Now that I have taught folks about that you see much less on the road wherever I live in just a few months or years...folks start grabbing them up... Flesh in the compost (when its to far gone for human food or not of a species I enjoy eating) is a great thing. I even will have a "caged" section to keep others out. You can also add a nice think layer to a mound garden as well (what folks are now calling "hugelkultur" funny how Europeans reinvent stuff?) as my ancestors have for millenia.

Good luck to all with this new "protein source" tool in you quiver...

Regards,

j
 
L. Zell
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I admit that I come at my slight phobia by means of work. I work at a diagnostic lab. I will continue to avoid feeding birds to birds. I also get the total heebyjeebies going to the sale barn. YMMV.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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That's fine L.Z. as long as you know it is a "phobia" and not based in any "animal husbandry" practices. Zooes, farms, and permaculture facilities do it all the time with no ill effect most of the time. I can sympathize with many folks and there personal beliefs, that is fine...however, those "beliefs" and/or phobias should not stand in the way of an animals full health, wellbeing, and natural behavior if left to their own devices...(not saying yours does.)

Regards,

j
 
Michael Cox
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I have to say the idea of supplementing chicken feed with wild livestock opens up interesting possibilities. I could probably trap a squirrel per day in the area we intend to put chickens. Squirrels => no nuts, ever from any of the dozen or so trees we have. Previously they have gone in the compost (I know you can eat them, but there isn't much meat for the amount of work). It seems like whenever you kill one another moves into the territory.

We don't have reliable BSF here, so that is a non-starter, and I don't fancy the smell of a maggot bin.

Anyone have any thoughts on an appropriate amount of supplemental wildlife? Seems like with worms/BSF/bugs we are happy that they eat as much as they can get hold of and that generally protein rich bug diets are better than grain based. Would that still hold for chickens snacking on the occasional pigeon??
 
Mark Chadwick
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J, DE is not chemical or pharmaceutical. There's a number of threads here about it. The fossilized remains of diatomes, one of Paul Wheaton's frequent topics in video's and podcasts. Food grade is human edible, it is effective against insects by physical means. Paul's frequent comment is that it makes them into bug jerky!
This thread has been very interesting, thanks to all who have contributed.
I have discussed some of this offline and was asked about the others involved, I had great delight in saying that I got some great information from the (White) Cloud!!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Daaaaw....after I posted I figured out what "DE" was, and felt even dumber, as I write about it all the time....sorry for the confusion...silly me...


Now what is BSF?
 
Michael Cox
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I missed a couple of earlier posts it seems - here we have wood pigeon. They are seriously tasty. No wood pigeon would be thrown to the chickens unless it had first already had the breast meat removed. Pigeon is a real treat - nice rich flavoured red meat. I've shot a few myself, and picked up more from guys shooting locally over the crop fields. We get flocks of hundreds that strip whole fields down to the stalks in the winter time.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I wish we had Culver (wood pigeon) here, much bigger and meater...very good eating!
 
L. Zell
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Jay, I think you misunderstood me--I've worked in "herd health" for 15 years, and have a degree in Animal Science. I am basing my reluctance to feed birds to birds on that. The last presentation I watched my boss give had a cartoon that went something like, "Fred, I don't feel so hot. I think I have X. How do you think that happened? I don't know George, but it might have something to do with eating Tom last month." Feeding cows to cows spreads Mad Cow disease. I just read an article that they think the new pig virus might be spread by feeding pig plasma to baby pigs. Some people are comfortable with that level of risk. Not me.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi L.Z.,

You and I are moving a bit into the esoteric academia that is "animal science," and having a very strong science background and working with them on and off for over 35 years, I can say that much of what they "project" is as much based on statistical research (and all scentiest know the shortcomings of statistics) and their own opinions. Because of this, someones scientific credential (including my own) or affiliations to such, does little to impress me, or the other PhD types I tend to hang around with. So I do respect your thoughts and opinions, yet like so many others they are often taken way out of context and the "bridging" that many do with these opinions is simply unfounded.

Comparing feeding wild healthy pigeons to chickens, or even a Cooper Hawk for that matter...(both species evolved to eat other birds) with that of feeding "cows to cows," or "pig plasma to baby pigs" is just a very silly notion, and another example of "bridging," that is neither apposite, nor really logical.

Cows are herbivores and should not under any circumstance be eating other cows, and taking a very inbred species like the modern Swine (many breeds of which are moving in GMO territory) and feeding any part of them to the neonate of that same strain is courting a biological disaster of monumental proportions...Again comparing this to a naturally occurring ethology and evolved physiology is pointless. Not even an "apples to oranges" comparison.

So again I will respect your personal belief systems, and conceptualized concerns, but please don't project this as based in any kind of well founded science. Is there risk, yes...a more than acceptable one, and no where near the level "potential risk" you are suggesting, especially on the scale a permaculture practitioner is going to exercise with a flock of there chickens, compared to "forced industrialized cannibalism by a herbivore species" or "inbred swine farmed by the millions."

Regards,

j
 
henry stevenson
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I'll add my question to this thread as it is related and this thread reminded me of it.

I raw feed my dog (for a number of reasons) and buy the bulk of his food from a small abattoir. I got him a sheep head a while ago and he ate most of it but then left the rest in the garden. The girls (my chickens) got into it and picked the bones clean. I got him another head which is still in the freezer because he keeps turning his nose up at it (dealing with that is another issue) so anyway I'm thinking of just letting the girls have the head instead.

I am wary of feeding chickens meat. DEFRA warn not to feed scraps, and whilst I don't take their word as gospel it must be based on something and without knowing what that something so I can research and come to my own decision - I am wary. For example - feeding meat to pigs and the link with Trichuris. Cooking the meat makes it fine to eat (and/or careful and adequate freezing) but there is added caution required if you're going to feed it to your dog raw. I like to eat the eggs from my girls only lightly cooked sometimes and sometimes even raw. I would rather avoid practices which would mean this becomes a riskier activity.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Henry,

Sounds like you already have a plan you follow, but if you are asking if you can feed meat to chickens, following the advice so far suggest in this conversation...the answer is yes...and of course you dog too. Both these species are carnivores most of the time in their natural setting. It is not until you add the human equation, and our need to anthropomorphize, as well as, project idiosyncratic concepts that it becomes an issue. Hope that helped a little. Why your DFRA (et al organizations) don't support it is mainly along the lines of "political" and/or "liability," in as such "they" will always side in the most conservative (or which direction the wind is blowing in the "media of sciences.")

Regards,

j
 
Lynn Garcia
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hey Mark...Great post thread and great questions!!

Would I feed pigeons from New York City to my chickens (in my case Ravens and hawks) no, not if I could avoid it...
j


If you were to look closely at those New York City pigeons you would notice that 90% of them have leg bands. Most of NYC's pigeon "problem" is not wild birds. There are simply so very many pigeon keepers on the buildings.  Most of those birds are probably considerably healthier than "country" pigeons.  NYC is not even close to the only city in the east that is like this.

Pigeons like the any other "pest" species are a problem only when humans make them a problem.  For the 10,000 years before the present pest rating they were in fact a very important farm animal. They were the second animal to be domesticated after the dog. It is sad to me that so many people have drank the Pest Control Coollaid and miss out on a really amazing animal to raise.
 
chad duncan
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Lynn Garcia wrote:
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hey Mark...Great post thread and great questions!!

Would I feed pigeons from New York City to my chickens (in my case Ravens and hawks) no, not if I could avoid it...
j


If you were to look closely at those New York City pigeons you would notice that 90% of them have leg bands. Most of NYC's pigeon "problem" is not wild birds. There are simply so very many pigeon keepers on the buildings.  Most of those birds are probably considerably healthier than "country" pigeons.  NYC is not even close to the only city in the east that is like this.

Pigeons like the any other "pest" species are a problem only when humans make them a problem.  For the 10,000 years before the present pest rating they were in fact a very important farm animal. They were the second animal to be domesticated after the dog. It is sad to me that so many people have drank the Pest Control Coollaid and miss out on a really amazing animal to raise.


I think his point was that local birds would have local parasites and would have developed natural ways of dealing with it, suddenly adding a bird (food) from a different region would add new parasites that the local birds physiology isn't prepared to deal with. I don't think he was suggesting that new York city is specifically disease ridden. At least not more than any other place.
 
Lynn Garcia
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chad duncan wrote:[
I think his point was that local birds would have local parasites and would have developed natural ways of dealing with it, suddenly adding a bird (food) from a different region would add new parasites that the local birds physiology isn't prepared to deal with. I don't think he was suggesting that new York city is specifically disease ridden. At least not more than any other place.


That does make sense. Perhaps I was reacting to the numerous sky rat comments I was seeing. I am of the opinion that people who want to feed pigeons to themselves or their omni/carni animals should go right ahead. If they are worried about parasites for wild caught animals there are many ways of dealing with this before feeding.  Gut and skin them and then cook. BARFers know that there is always a chance of parasites and disease due to the feeding method.  IF you don't trust the meats safety for you or animals don't eat it.  Throw it in the maggot bin.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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