In Hawaii there are wild pigs, sheep, goat, chickens, and cows. I think even donkeys, HEEeeee haaaaawwhh! They seem to do fine
Dave Bennett wrote:
I don't know much about the specifics of how they do it, but the guys up at Vermont Compost Company (http://vermontcompost.com/about.html see the big picture at the bottom of the page) raise a commercial flock of chickens for eggs with 0 supplemental grain. I think a lot of it involves allowing the birds to pick over there enormous compost piles.
Chickens are not grain eaters unless they are forced to eat by not having a choice.
I have to disagree with that statement.
We have lots of free range chickens around us, and although they have tons of bugs, greenery, compost, etc, they also love weed seeds and grains. It is not a matter of being "forced" to eat seeds and grains, they actually choose to do so as part of their diet.
From my experience, chickens will eat just about anything.
Seeds are NOT grain.
Semantic arguments are pointless. Chickens began as domesticated Jungle Fowl. They are not that far removed from them. What was posted was not my conjecture it was cut copied and pasted from a resource website about chicken.
I totally agree. I'm just saying that they do eat grains willingly, and seeds, too. In fact, they eat almost anything that doesn't eat them first!
Dave Bennett wrote:
I have to agree. Feral pig tastes great. Open season on them here in most counties in Va. Lots of crop damage.
On the Big Island the feral goats are kind of a making some damage and getting over populated. So a helicopter flies around and they shoot them, which seems barbaric, and makes me a bit sad, But they try to set it up so people can go in and get the carcass.
Dave Bennett wrote:
I am a "country boy" that grew up "out in the sticks." Many of those farmers west of here where the pigs are tearing up acres of mostly corn can't stop running their farms to try to shoot pigs they rarely see except with binoculars and usually after the damage has been done. So some hunters go out there from time to time to see if we can "make some wild bacon." I went out there a few times but only ever got some fleeting glimpse of them as they faded into the woods and then vanished. Those black and white spots sure are effective camo for them. It's very difficult to see them once they have the cover of the understory in the woods. I never had the opportunity for a clean shot on one.
John Polk wrote:
Replying to two distinct posts in this thread:
@Oracle, while pigs are a sign of wealth in much of Polynesia, goats are certainly an introduced species, that if left unchecked will turn the Big Island into a lava desert.
Not being of the culture, there are probably not so many recipes for goat as there are for pigs (also introduced), but certainly, the pit on the beach, done luau style would provide a succulent meat that even the haole would enjoy.
@Vela, and Dave: Semantics screw us all up! By some (most) definitions, Cereals = Grains (from the 'grasses', and ergo all grains/cereals = seeds. Chickens , being omnivores, eat everything, including seeds, whether they be cereal/grain seeds or other seeds...but they would prefer bugs/grubs/insects, etc. An all grain diet however, is not sufficient to sustain them (or us). The only members of the animal kingdom that can "properly" digest whole grains happens to be the birds, so YES, cereals do hold a place in their diet, but cannot be expected to maintain them without other sources of nutrients.
And that's why I stopped buying it back in the early 70's. Corn is a supposedly cheap way to grow fat on livestock.
John Polk wrote:
Most commercial chickens (layers and meat) are fed cereal diets. It is the cheapest and easiest for the growers, and they are not concerned with the longevity of their stock. A commercial egg layer is considered "spent" at the first sign of molting.
I have read that over half of the food grown in the US is used for feeding livestock.
Cattle, pigs, chickens...that's a lot of corn!
T. Pierce wrote:
these guys used whole grains for sporting birds when it was still legal in parts of the country. these fowl had to be top notch health, conditioning, and bred perfectly sound in mind and body. all this was accomplished on whole grains. as i mentioned, i dont care for the method, and i dont think its wholly natural way to raise chickens. but they did well at it. these birds were proved their worth, so i cant argue with this method of feeding. as for longevity,,,,these were from weaning size to death whether it was 2 yrs, 12 yrs or longer, death from old age.
i dont think these modern fowl thats bred for laying, looks, or meat would do well on a diet like this, they are bred for single purposes and everything else is thrown out the window. it would take a well bred family of fowl that is bred for total package to handle it. but its been done, and as far as i know, still done.
There are dozens of heritage breeds. Your suggestion that "sporting birds" being raised on grain is a bit vague. Do you mean Game Cocks? If that is what you mean by sporting birds then I would suggest that those birds are much closer to Jungle Fowl than commercial chickens. Most of the heritage breeds were bred for free ranging. The reason many are endangered as breeds is because of Industrial chicken production. It is all about the ratio of lbs of feed per lbs. of weight gain. While living in the San Joaquin Valley I had some game cocks/hens that had escaped from a neighbor that held cock fights in his barn until he got busted for it. When he got out of jail he packed up and split for AZ where cock fighting was still legal. Some of his birds escaped and he never caught them. They showed up at my place so we started feeding them and eventually I had a backyard full of chickens. Those little hens laid medium sized eggs but wow they sure laid a lot of them. They did not get grain and the were perfectly healthy. Most of their food came from forage, kitchen scraps including meat trimmings and bugs. When you stated sporting birds I was thinking you were talking about pheasants or quail but then got the impression you were talking about chickens. I did not say that you can't raise chickens on grain I said that it is not necessary to feed grain to them. It is not their normal diet. They are Omnivores not Herbivores.
as for corn,,,,,its a hyped up method that is preached and practiced everywhere. but definitly isnt no where near the best way to do something. its known corn isnt good for horse, cow, or fowl. but all the "books" and corn farmers say use it, so the masses follow suit.
Dave Bennett wrote:
T. Pierce wrote:
yes american game fowl. i was stating this for the benefit of Mr Polk. when he said you cant raise fowl on grains or cereals. and ive known of others that have. i tried it once, but i didnt care for the results. the health was great. the hens laid well, the cocks did well but their looks were altered. its hard to explain. you just have to have an eye for such things. it takes yrs of experence to "see" some things that arent actually appearable, if that makes sense. any who.............
let me clarify. when i say whole grains, i mean, actual whole grains. not a crumble or pellet thats veg. only. i mean whole oats, peas, beans, sunflower seeds, wheat, etc, etc. kinda like a pigeon ration.
and i do believe other types of fowl can be fed this way, they have to be used to it, and you may have to cull some to get them this way. kinda like saying its not healthy to be a straight veg. or vegan. some can handle it. alot of um that are this way dont look healthy.
Cool deal. I am sure over time you will discover ways to add supplements such as grain that you can easily grow yourself. There are alternatives to grain but finding something that will grow in your climate will take time. I have been thinking about a donkey when I find some land. Right now I only have rabbits. I forage all of their feed needs except for the mineral supplement. I plan to have a few goats too when I finally get out of this place and back to the "sticks." Some breeds are excellent foragers.
I chose a donkey, goats and geese as my animals because none of these need much grain.
It seems to me that farmers and their animals have become addicted to cheap grain. Older breeds, maybe slower growing, lower yielding would be better for us I think
The donkey and goats eat hay and tree branches in winter. I cut these myself. What's wrong with hay? IMO hay meadows are a wonderful example of humans in harmony with nature. Herbs, flowers and insects thrive in them and they can soak up run off.
The geese get a handful of grain when the snow is deep.The pregnant goats get a handful of grain aday in winter.
I am sure substitutes could be found for this small amount of grain, -wild grass seeds? pine nuts?, but I don't want to experiment on my animals. I can fairly easily grow this grain myself.
A farm in Shropshire England developed a grass mix for winter grazing. Shropshire is relatively mild
pigs do this all over the US, they are called feral pigs.
If managed a bit, I think goats, pigs, and chickens would be super easy. All of my neighbors free range their chickens in our village, and I don't see anyone feed them anything intentionally. The hens always have a group of 10 chicks around their feet, and I know everyone gets plenty of eggs. I don't know how anyone keeps track of which chickens belong to whom....