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a hen and her mouse: chickens are not vegetarians

 
paul wheaton
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A hen has a mouse and doesn't wanna share.   

I think this is an excellent example of how chickens are not vegetarians.  As part of my article on raising chickens, I talk about how I am uncomfortable with the idea of eggs being labeled with "vegetarian diet."  About half of a chicken's natural diet is bugs!  And sometimes mice and snakes. 

That's Rick Valley of Lost Valley Educational Center talking about a scene from Jurassic Park.  He says this sort of thing happens often.  He calls it "rodent rugby time".



 
John Polk
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I had a "discussion" in the market over a package of eggs that was labeled both "Free Range" and "All Vegetarian Diet".  My argument was that it could be one, or the other, but not both!
Maybe we should preach to our hens.  Then we could sell the eggs as "Spiritually Enlightened".
 
Mariah Wallener
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I can sort of understand people not realizing that chickens are omnivores (having grown up in the city I didn't know that until I started hanging out on homesteading forums), but I really cannot for the life of me understand how anybody could feed a dog a vegetarian diet. How utterly selfish.

It all seems so darned strange to me. We're omnivores. Chickens are omnivores. Dogs are carnivores. My daughter has known the difference between the three types (herbivores being the third) since she was 4 years old. Why is this so hard for people to wrap their heads around?
 
John Polk
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I think many people have heard the horror stories about egg hens getting slaughter house floor sweepings for their protein requirements.  I can understand why even a non-vegetarian might see a vegetarian diet as being "superior" way to raise hens.

It is just another example of why we need to get "consumers" out to the farms to see where their food actually comes from.  "You mean chickens start out with feathers?  How do they convert the feathers to Saran Wrap?"
 
Tyler Ludens
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I feed my baby chicks a bucket of bugs (mostly pillbugs and sowbugs) every day - they go nuts! 

I plan to build a Black Soldier Fly production bucket for additional feed (one of these days!  :lol

http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/bsf-bucket-composter-version-2-1/
 
T. Pierce
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the layer pellets i feed has on the tag, "vegitarian diet"  like thats a good thing.  so i will suplement their diets with dog and/or cat food.  to go along with their free ranging. esp. during cold winter months.  i believe the vegitarian claim is a sales gimmick implemented to humor the ignorant.  plus is cheaper on the feed mills so they dont have to add the costlier "meat" products.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Some people would make lions and tigers into vegetarians if they had their way! 
 
Tim Canton
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H Ludi,  How do you collect your bugs?  I would love to collect but not sure how to start?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I started a little compost heap, really just a pile of pulled weeds, and the bugs love to hang out there.  I just pull aside some of the wilted weeds and scoop them up. 

 
Jordan Lowery
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the music just made that too funny paul, wish i could train my chickens to hunt voles.
 
T. Pierce
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"A MILITANT/PSYCHOTIC VEGETARIAN"...................LMBO.

ive seen hens snatch a mouse just caught in a trap in the hen house run around with it.  ive seen when moving feed barrels around a nest of lil pinkie mice uncovered. the hens move in an eat everyone of the pinkies.  ive seen guinea hens catch and skin a frog then eat it...................yup fowl are definitely omnivores
 
Thea Olsen
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"An evolved vegetarian."  I love it.  That's me.  I don't eat meat, but my hens sure do! 
When they're broody we put them in "chicken jail"  (a wire cage) for a few days until they get over it.  Since it gives them no protection from predators, we put it in the basement at night.  One night my husband came home from work around 1am and found 2 broodies in the basement happily devouring a mouse.  Since then I have suggested putting chicken diapers on them and setting them loose in the basement to control the mice, but I haven't been able to convince the rest of the family that this is a good idea.
Of course they also eat whatever bugs and things they find in the garden, and silkworm pupae-because I'm also a vegetarian who raises silkworms and then puts the cocoons in the oven.
 
                    
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our chickens chasing each other for a mouse is more entertainment than watching a soccer match.  I wish they would catch voles. Ours are free ranging. Yesterday DH and I worked in the woods clearing along a trail and we only had one tick on us.  I blame the chickens for that.
 
Chris Fitt
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That was a great video.  I also feel that the vegetarian diet thing is in response to the truly awful conditions in large poultry production houses.  Also not everyone considers insects to be worthy of meat status (i am not one of them but that mindset exists).  By raising chickens I've found they are not only extremely omnivorous but also cannibalistic.  Has anyone else seen a dead or dying chicken being consumed by its flockmates?
 
T. Pierce
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Chris Fitt wrote:
That was a great video.  I also feel that the vegetarian diet thing is in response to the truly awful conditions in large poultry production houses.  Also not everyone considers insects to be worthy of meat status (i am not one of them but that mindset exists).  By raising chickens I've found they are not only extremely omnivorous but also cannibalistic.  Has anyone else seen a dead or dying chicken being consumed by its flockmates?


they are called yard buzzards for a reason.  an old fella i knew once called them  "old dirty birds"  you hang around chickens long enuff youll see some mighty disgusting things.
 
Walter Jeffries
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John Polk wrote:
I had a "discussion" in the market over a package of eggs that was labeled both "Free Range" and "All Vegetarian Diet".  My argument was that it could be one, or the other, but not both!


It could easily be both. My cousin raises "Free-ranged" "Organic" "Vegetarian" chickens. They are in huge quantaset metal buildings with an open floor plan (thus free-ranged), fed certified organic feed (thus Big 'O' Organic) and the feed is corn/soy (thus vegetarian, even vegan). The conditions are horrible. The place stinks. If you visited it you might never want to buy eggs or eat chickens again. But it is free-ranged, vegetarian, USDA Certified Organic.

Bah.

My chickens on the other hand are truly free-ranged out on pasture where they pick apart chicken and sheep dung, eat all the bugs, mice and snakes they can catch as well as some grass and are REALLY organic. But I don't have USDA Goobermint Certification so I can't call ours organic.

That's government working for you.
 
John Polk
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Your cousin's birds sound more like "cage free" than "free range" to me.  Do they stay inside the buildings?
 
tel jetson
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pubwvj wrote:
But I don't have USDA Goobermint Certification so I can't call ours organic.


below a certain income, folks are free to call their farm products organic without inspection and certification.  don't know the number off the top of my head, though.  doesn't ultimately salvage the badly broken federal organic program, I guess, but it's a nice bone thrown to little operations.
 
John Polk
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Unless the law has changed, the limit is $5,000 per year in sales.
I believe you can call it organic, but cannot use the label.
 
tel jetson
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paul wheaton wrote:
I think this is an excellent example of how chickens are not vegetarians.  As part of my article on raising chickens, I talk about how I am uncomfortable with the idea of eggs being labeled with "vegetarian diet."  About half of a chicken's natural diet is bugs!  And sometimes mice and snakes.


I believe the "vegetarian diet" labels are in reaction to the practice of including beef and pork offal in chicken feed, then including chicken offal in beef feed.  there was a big to do about that a few years back, because, well, it likely contributed to Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis and Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease.  in case folks have forgotten, those are both very nasty ways to go.

my guess is that consumers who are buying eggs based on a "vegetarian diet" label are concerned about mad cow disease, not about chickens eating bugs and mice.  the label isn't strictly accurate, but a label that was would probably be paragraphs long.

all that said, commercial poultry operations have earned their reputation for following the letter of regulations instead of the spirit.  it's rotten, but that's business.  stay out of grocery stores and it won't be an issue.
 
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