"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ambitions and Rambling Thoughts on Chickens

Sharing Food


Warning -“The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should avoid.” - W. H. Auden

The above quote can be considered my disclaimer as I am somewhat of a boob when it comes to discussions on animal husbandry. Give me a potato, tomato, or even a funky climbing trombetta squash to talk about and my confidence level is fairly high...chickens, not so much. That said, we have somehow managed to keep our flock healthy and thriving for a few years and are only now faced with a slow down in egg production forcing us to contemplate a few new additions to the gang.

One of our future goals is to become more self-sustainable when it comes to feeding our fine feathered friends. We think that this objective could either be achieved by once again selling enough eggs to pay for the birds feed and/or growing all of the foods that a small flock might need to meet their nutritional requirements. My plan is to one day soon set aside a small section of land that we will use to grow enough corn and wheat to feed a flock of 15-20 chickens whose diet will also be supplemented with as much garden produce as we can get them to eat. I figure that this might be possible on about 1/4 an acre...we shall see and I shall share.

These carrots, mangles, beets, potatoes, squash, apples, and sunroot tubers are being grated for the chickens.

At this point we are still buying most of the grain products that we feed our flock but do go out of our way to augment their diet with as many home grown food stuffs as possible. This makes a huge difference in the amount of store bought grains they consume. Right now our birds have around one fenced acre of forest and field in which roam about foraging for bugs, grass, and anything else they might find...this also helps with the feed bill.

The flock heading out into the cold...they hate being cooped up even more than they dislike the snow. Their pen is always open during the day so they can come and go as they please.

Every couple days during the winter months we grate and then steam cook a wide variety of vegetables from our root cellar for the chickens. A portion of this is then fed to them late in the afternoon each day to provide enough carbohydrates to help them stay warm at night. In addition to root vegetables the birds are provided with alfalfa hay when they can't forage for grass and weeds due to the snow and I also try to obtain any "less than perfect" greens from the winter garden rows for them while picking our daily salad.

The chickens get a flake of alfalfa hay every 3 days when their free range is covered with snow.

Their eggshells are saved, dried, crushed, and added back to the feed to help provide them with enough calcium for all those eggs we no longer get. Every couple weeks after I have cleaned out the wood stove the "cool" bucket of ash is left in the pen for them to peck at...they really seem to like the ash and it no doubt adds some beneficial minerals to their diet. I do know that the ash contains some calcium because we add all of Rowdy's (the dog) and any other bones we might come upon to the fire. When it is time to clean out the fireplace any ash remaining in the bucket is then spread on the garden and replaced with the new stuff. Wood ash can also be dumped in a pile so the birds can use it for dust bathing purposes during the winter, although we don't do this as their pen has plenty of soil in it. Obviously, we are very careful that nothing other than wood and the occasional bones go into the fireplace.

I built our chicken house so that it could easily accommodate 30-40 birds, although we have never had that many. Their house is built right into the barn and has three adjoining rooms, the one pictured below is where they sleep and lay eggs.

As I've mentioned in a previous post an oil heater and bird bath warmer are ready to use during January when the temperatures sometimes drop into the negative digits for a couple weeks. The heater is surrounded by chicken wire just in case someone decides to try roosting on it...so far that has never happened.

There is nothing better than a nice dust bath on a sunny winter's day...dirty birdies.




Here is an interesting excerpt from Countryside Magazine on feeding animals from one's garden:

"While growing small amounts of grains will be fun and instructive, you'll soon see why farm folk welcomed mechanization. But what about those crops that got left behind in the process?

The leader is probably the mangel, or mangold, or mangle-wurzle or stock beet. These are fun to grow: they'll amaze your friends and neighbors.

The roots reach fantastic proportions. . . two feet long and more. Don't worry: they grow mostly above ground You won't need a backhoe to dig them.

At one time mangels were a staple feed for dairy cattle, even in the U.S. They were displaced because the growing of other feeds was more easily mechanized. . . and because of the research into and improvements in silage. (Some writers maintain that if as much work had gone into root crops as was invested in silage, root crops would be the more common today.)

After harvesting, cut off the tops and store the roots in clamps-rudimentary root cellars. Dig a pit, put the mangels in, and cover with enough straw and soil to keep them from freezing.

We once had a Jersey cow that ate mangles whole, just nibbling on them like people eat apples. But conventional wisdom says cows can choke on these beets, so they must be cut into bite-size pieces. If you want to feed mangels and you're lucky, you might still be able to find a beet-cutter hidden away in an old barn. Failing that, you might study one in a farm museum and replicate it. . . or devise your own. On a small scale, of course, they can be chopped with a large butcher knife or machete.

Other root crops include the aforementioned turnips and carrots. Turnips have made a recent comeback among some shepherds. Planted in pastures, the sheep can harvest them themselves. (Turnips are said to produce off-flavor milk if fed to cows or goats.)

Carrots require more work to harvest, but if you have good, sandy carrot soil they're certainly worth considering. Store these in clamps, like mangels.

Jerusalem artichokes have also been highly touted as livestock feed by modern homesteaders. This member of the sunflower family produces stalks and leaves that are relished by cows, sheep and goats. Any animal (including humans) will eat the potato-like tubers, but that involves a lot of digging labor for little reward. We have found, however, that pigs enjoy both the labor and the rewards.

And what about potatoes? At first blush it might seem like some kind of a crime of waste to grow potatoes for livestock feed, but why is that any different than growing corn for them? Potatoes were once a common stock food, and culls are still used in potato-growing regions."

57 comments:

Buttons said...

For a person that thinks they are not an expert on chickens I think you got it all right. We used to raise a lot of chickens and it all sounds good to me.They are lucky chickens and should provide for you well.

Stefaneener said...

In Temple Grandin's latest book, she discusses the things different kinds of animals need for improved lives. Commercial chickens are the only ones that she refused to talk about enhancing the environment for, saying that commercial raising was hellish, and until chickens stopped being raised miserably, she had nothing beyond that to say. Just thinking about that makes me realize just how appropriately happy your birds must be.

Bev said...

I love the sound of happy chickens! And the train, too!

I think you have some very lucky birds. I'm sure they could get by on much less tlc than they're obviously getting (mine do), but how nice for them to have the best.

My chickens will NOT step foot outside on even the slightest amount of snow, so they spend the winter indoors. It's funny to see them craning their necks to eat the snow from the doorway of the coop.

Thanks for showing us your winter chicken arrangements.

Granola Girl said...

We hope to have chickens in the next few years when we move out of the National Forest and onto a homestead. I'm far less freaked out about them than the plants. I grew up tending my grandparents chickens and helping in the slaughter. I have yet to figure out exactly how to talk to the potatoes I grow, but I've got chicken down pretty well :)

I never thought about burning up the bones. Our ashes go right into the garden beds and compost. I bet the calcium would do wonders.

Ferris Jay said...

It looks like you have a great set up there - and happy hens.
Well done for getting them to eat the root vegetables (ours never went for them).
I'v learnt a lot from that post - very inspirational, thank you (I'd never thought of giving them wood ash / burnt bone).

Have you grown grains before? I'll be interested to see how you get on.

I'm toying with the idea of trying a tiny patch of grain - but probably not for a years or two.

I could do with a little heater for our birds right now .. and I've been spending a lot of time de-icing their water because of our unseasonal snow.

Love the videos - it's great to see happy hens.

Let us know if / when you plan on getting some new arrivals to boost your egg production.

kelli said...

looks like you've made a happy lil home for those chickens! how sweet!=)

Wendy said...

Wow, what lucky lucky chickens to live such lush and comfortable lives at your place. My dad keeps ducks and geese and boy is it a lot of work. That would be (ambitious and) very cool if you could be totally sustainable. Looks like you're almost there. I like the little snow path you've dug out for them. Like I said, a LOT of work!

Annie's Granny said...

Gosh, Mr. H., your red headed girls eat better than I do! I wish I had some of those lovely organic root veggies!

tickmeister said...

My chickens get a ration of deer meat during the winter when there are no bugs and worms. We are overrun with deer around here, so usually not a problem to get a couple extras.

Everything that I have read or been told indicates that chickens don't need supplimental heat as long as they are not in a drafty or wet environment, and are well fed and watered. My flock was not fazed by -25 Deg. nights last winter.

Dani said...

Love your vegetable shredder :-)

And it looks like your chicken coop is a really toasty place to be - lucky chickens!

Ruralrose said...

Them is some spoiled chickens! If you don't have any setters best to bring in a couple of bantees, they would site on golf balls. My flock is 6 months to 6 years. The broody ones show the others how it is done and everyone wants chicks of their own. Everything looks picture perfect to me. Peace

Ruralrose said...

p.s. you need a rooster too, ;)

Ruralrose said...

p.p.s. we feed our chickens fish and kelp too

vrtlarica said...

I love those two videos, your chicken are very happy girls!
From what I have learned from people raising chickens, they feed them also with some kind of leftovers from a local mill. I am not sure what it is, but they get it for free.
Growing grains for your animals sounds like a good idea, I know that all people around here do it.

Heiko said...

They look happy healthy chicks! Useful info for the day we get around get ourselves some feathered friends. Mind you that 4-legged furry chicken looks interesting... What breed is that?

LynnS said...

So you pave snow out of the way, too? We do, too. If we don't move the snow away, the girls won't venture out of the coop. Picky, spoiled hens.....Yours look wonderfully healthy.

We do a few things differently than you. We don't give eggshells to our hens since they are fed to the worms we keep. They do occasionally get a few handfuls of wood ash to kick around. Most of our ashes are held back for lye making, of course. :-)

Fresh foods, cooked foods like oats, and the occasional pasta are favorites with our hens. If you ever make spaghetti noodles, make some extra and give them to your hens. It's like watching them gobble up foot-long worms! ;-)

It would sure be wonderful to grow all of that grain! I hope you're able to do that for your homestead.

Mr. Rowdy sure is well-behaved!!

Mr. H. said...

Buttons - Thanks, so far the girls have done an excellent job of providing eggs for us so we must be doing something right.:)

Stefaneener - I have to agree, commercial egg layers stuck in a small cage all of their lives or meat birds in a giant warehouse waiting for the right age to be slaughtered is an act of pure horror which is exactly why we now raise our own birds. I will have to check out Temple Grandin's new book, I've never heard of her.

Bev - We do have very spoiled chickens...that is a fact. You heard the train....good catch.:) We are about one mile as the crow flies, up hill a bit, from the train tracks so the sound of them passing by is easily heard.

Granola Girl - Yes, toss all those bones you find while hiking into the fireplace...of course you might get some strange looks if fish & game catch you with a bunch of bones hanging out of your packs.:)

Your boy will love helping you tend chickens. When I was a wee lad my parents raised every animal imaginable for a few years in the early 70's...unfortunately I don't remember too much about it.

Ferris Jay - I grew a 50' row of wheat a while back just to see how it would do and was happy with the results. They say that a fair wheat crop will provide approximately 1300-1500lbs per acre so I figure less than 1/4 an acre should be more than enough to feed our birds off of as they go through about 300-400lbs of feed a year.

Kelli - They are spoiled and fat but do not get into too much trouble.:)

Wendy - It will be very interesting to see just how sustainable we can become in 4 or 5 years. I think the trick will be in keeping a the flock small and really focusing on supplementing their diet with garden produce all year around.

Annie's Granny - You should see how well the dog eats...he even gets meat with his vegetables.:)

Tickmeister - Deer meat, now that's a new one for me but I can see how it would work out pretty well for them as chickens are omnivores after all.

As to the heater, we often have temperatures of "negative" 10-15°during January so I try to keep their sleeping quarters between 25-35°...it helps them to keep laying eggs too.

Dani - Yes, we do get a lot of use out of that shredder and it works great for all the root veggies we steam for the birds...although some of the attachments are getting pretty worn after years of use.

Ruralrose - They surely are some pretty spoiled chickens and our Rhode Island Reds never have been very setty at all...even when we had roosters. I will be trying a different breed this next time and hope to start raising all of our own chicks.

Vrtlarica - It sounds like the people where you live are very self-reliant and that is something we are working towards becoming as well. Free chicken feed would be nice but I have a feeling I would not find such things in U.S. mills.

Heiko - That large brown creature is a breed apart. He is a bonafide chicken hound and is not supposed to be in there eating all of their food.:) I can't wait until you too have some birds...Eddie will love them.

Lynn - We shovel as much snow as we can and if there is not too much the chickens will wander across it to get under the trees where they can scratch around and escape confinement.

Micki did pick up 4 boxes of pasta the other day as she was able to get them for free with some coupons...they will be used for the chickens.

Rowdy is very well behaved around the chickens...it took us a long time to train him to be that way. I think he thinks they are his little sisters.:)

Geni said...

Your are at least 500 miles ahead of us in the self sustainable farming matter including animal husbandry.... :) My husband and I have been thought of living a life like yours ourself and bought a 9.5 Acre land. But one big fat problem is that we grew up in big cities and know nothing of growing and raising.... I really enjoy your blog. You are one hell of inspiration to us.....sorry about my h word..... :)

el said...

Ah, Mike, give yourself some credit!

As far as grains go, I do know neighbors of mine who just grind up whatever they have on hand (corn, oats) in a cheapo grain mill that lives out in the barn. Me, I grow hull-less oats; they do really well and are really almost as easy as corn plus are a great green manure. I would say they're as easy as corn but the chickens, dingdang it, love them...before harvest! darned birds! I usually get about 4 pounds with a patch that is about 800s.f.

Our girls excel at eating leftovers. Even, uh, leftover chicken!

but yeah, having new pullets is the only way, short of turning a light on, that I have ever been able to get "enough" eggs (2-3 a day) to keep us happy. So we keep increasing our flock size, which, frankly, is a bit of a bad idea!

Chris Brock (under the mulberry tree) said...

You are doing pretty well with your chickens food already. I have a patch of maize at the moment which i am hoping will contribute to the chickens food in a small way. Good use for Sunroots though- grate and feed to chickens!! They grow so easily but a lot of people don't use them much.

WeekendFarmer said...

what a healthy treat! I think I will move in with your chickens : ) !

Mike said...

I really like that shredder! Also, our big dog tries to eat with the hens when we try to feed them, she usually ends up chasing the hens aways, as she doesn't really like to share.

Also, if you are looking for some new birds I would recommend the Delaware breed, they are a heritage breed and are considered critically close to extinction. We have a bunch of them that I couldn't butcher and they lay like crazy!

That coop also looks pretty impressive!

Leigh said...

Gosh, I could have practically written an identical post about us and our chickens. I haven't tried feeding mine alfalfa though. Nor had I thought to grate fruits and veggies for them; good idea. I've been reading that some breeds are better foragers than others. If and when I get more chickens I'll probably go with some of those, and winter layers.

Sense of Home said...

What a privilege to have fresh eggs from your own chickens. I really appreciate the eggs I am able to get from a local family. Looks like your chickens have good variety and nutrition in their diet. I love the orange/yellow yolks we get in the summer when the birds are eating bugs and bits of grass.

kitsapFG said...

I think we both spoil our hens about equally. ;) Actually, it sounds like you manage your flock much as we have been managing ours. They have the run of our back yard area (about a half acre fenced) which has a dark forest floor and some green areas (including the walk ways of my garden area) to graze on. We have an overhand on the back of our garage that provides a great dry area that they regularly use for their dust bath area. If you changed the color of your block ot black with some red - they would be the spitting image of our little flock of ladies. We diced up fruit and turnips for our girls too and also assist them with digging up worms from our compost pile which supplements their commercial layer crumbles and scratch grains. I also grew a patch of kale just for them and feed them leaves periodically for some extra greens. I like your goal of getting to self sufficiecy with the hens.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Mr H - all great work! a couple references.. have you seen Harvey Ussery's project on home grown feed?
http://themodernhomestead.us/article/Growing-Poultry-Feeds-1.html

also we are moving to whole grains to get away from the commercial stuff:
http://www.mofga.org/Publications/FactSheets/tabid/133/Default.aspx

and dont forget about Gene Logsdon who writes great books about how folks can grow grains on a small scale:
http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/

many an old timer is shocked at the "over management" of hens these days - pretty much it used to be that grandma would go out in the morning, open the coop, and yell: get out there and free range because its FREE!

ps give Rowdy extra hugs from me

Mr. H. said...

Geni - It sounds like you are heading in the right direction as a little land is the most important part of the equation. The rest of it is not really that difficult if you start small and do one thing at a time so as not to become overwhelmed. My first garden was only a 10' x 20' plot and has over time expanded to over half an acre. And we are still trying to figure out the chickens.:)

El - I am definitely going to have to get something that will chop our corn up that is for sure and I have thought of hulless oats before and will keep that in mind. We once had our whole bottom field planted in oats that we gave to the farmer for his work (we just wanted it to be weed free for the summer). Anyway they grew really well considering they were not irrigated at all. Unfortunately unless I buy a tractor or a couple draft horses I think my grain growing operation will have to remain much smaller.

Chris _ We do love our sunroots and as long as they are either cooked or diced up really fine the chickens like them too. They are the one plant that I do not struggle to grow that is for sure.:)

WeekendFarmer - Sure thing, there is always room on their perch for a couple more.:)

Mike - The shredder makes quick work when it comes time to dice up veggies for the birds, unfortunately we have worn down the some of the attachments over the years and will have to replace them pretty soon.

I don't think our dog really cares all that much about the food he just likes to hang out with the birds...he is funny that way.:)

Thanks for your tip on the Delaware breed, I will keep that breed in mind. Although it is really up to my wife as she is very picky about what we are going to get next. We might go with a mix this time, I'm not really sure yet.

Leigh - We are definitely keeping cold hardiness, foraging instinct, and egg producing capabilities in mind for our next group of birds. I must say though that our little cranky Rhode Island reds are a great all around bird and still giving us a couple eggs a day...and they really excel at foraging. The Rhode Island roosters were really mean though...especially to the hens. We will be looking for a much more hen friendly rooster this next time.

Brenda - Your are so right, the quality of eggs in a home raised flock is way beyond anything organic or not that can be had from the grocery store. I'm glad that you are able to enjoy real farm fresh eggs too.:)

Laura - I love that you are growing kale (and turnip greens too:) for your birds and bet they really appreciate that. The one thing that we have noticed after a couple years is that the bad insect population has decreased dramatically...especially the slugs. I bet that you will notice the same thing in your gardens.

kitsapFG said...

We have already noticed that positive impact - the bad bugs are decidedly less in the garden - even the slugs!

Mr. H. said...

Ohiofarmgirl - Thank you so much for all of the links. I found that article on growing comfrey and nettles for the chickens to be most interesting and I think we might really do that this next summer. So thank you for that.:) Also, I have read the Gene Logsdon book "Small Scale Grain Raising" from the library but am definitely going to get myself a personal copy to add to our little Logsdon collection...isn't he great. I will give Rowdy a big hug for you after he wakes up...he is asleep on the bed with our grandson right now.:)

Laura - That's great. Also, I forgot to tease you about digging worms for the chickens. My wife loves to steal worms from our garden and compost heap for them and I always get mad at her for it...I can only imagine how funny it must sound to hear the two of us arguing about worms.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I have never imagine how chicken survive in cold weather before so it was really interesting to read through your experiance. I hope you won't need to buy any chicken food next year. My mama chicken number has been decreasing as fox has been having them for dinner.

Anonymous said...

Chickens are an excellent homestead asset. Easy to keep, take care of scraps, make chicken shit.
Yours look great!

Why don't you provide more bedding in the coop - especially under the roosts? I get enough straw to last for several years and them apply it "everywhere" - garden, fruit trees, coop..

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - It will probably be a couple years before we are able to feed them with 100% of our own food stuffs but we are going to work on it. Too bad about your chickens being taken by foxes and I hope you are able to find a solution to that problem. Our biggest predator is raccoons, so far we have not had any issues with them but I suppose it is only a matter of time.

Anonymous - You are right, chickens are definitely the ultimate homestead animal. There is normally plenty of bedding inside their sleeping quarters but we were getting ready to clean everything out the other day and I had not added any fresh bedding yet.

Speaking of which, we started using oat straw last year instead of straw and found that the chickens really enjoyed pecking at the oats.

Brian said...

Great post. I'm from Canada where cold is par for the course and I keep Partridge Plymouth Rocks (among others). Some of your birds look like the same. I too have experimented with both defraying the costs of purched (and dubious) feed, augmenting their diets, and trying to minimize dependance on the Industrial Livestock Feed Pipeline. So that includes a variety of sprouts, suspended cabbages, and grated veggies of all sorts - pumpkins, carrots, J-chokes etc. Anything that we routinely squirrel away for ourselves in the root cellar,can, with a little forethought during the growing season, be likewise provisioned for the flock. This year, I'm even feeding them 'fortified' lard cakes occasionally from our pig slaughter in the Fall. Waste not, want not.

Mr. H. said...

Brian - Thanks for commenting, I did a little search on Plymouth Rocks and they sound like a great all around bird. I added them to my list of possibilities...I think they are the same breed my parents use to raise when I was a child. Right now we have Rhode Island Reds and I believe they are fairly similar in size, nature, and egg laying ability.

Anyway, I love that you are feeding your birds garden produce in a similar manner to us and bet that you also have a very healthy happy flock of chickens. If you didn't see the link that Ohiofarmgirl shared in her above comment about growing poultry feed you might find it interesting - http://themodernhomestead.us/article/Growing-Poultry-Feeds-1.html

This article mentions the "sprouting" that you also listed...I will have to look into that some more as we have never fed our birds sprouted grains or legumes before.

Sal from SRF said...

I think you guys are being a little modest about your ability with chickens. They look very happy and healthy. I have been keeping chickens for many years (up to about 50 birds), and it does take some knowhow to keep them healthy if one doesn't want to spend $$ on feed, supplements, etc., and be organic. I live on an island on the west coast and have access to seaweed and oyster shell from the beach, so that helps.
I love your idea of grinding up root vegetables. I have copious amounts of rutabagas sitting in the garden... waiting. Now, since my kids won't eat them (or not much, anyway) I will feed them to my birds. Cheers

Mr. H. said...

Sal - Thanks, we are trying to get it all figured out and are very happy with the progress we have made so far. It is always encouraging to hear positive comments from others that have been doing this longer than us. Your chickens will love those rutabagas...ours sure do.:)

MikeH said...

I'm curious as to why you're raising chickens. Assuming that the primary reason is for the B12, then why not look at geese? The USDA adult recommended daily allowance for B12 is 2.4 mcg. According to the USDA a goose egg contains 7.34 mcg while a jumbo egg contains .56 mcg.

Mr. H. said...

MikeH - A very good question.:) The primary reason we are raising chickens is for a little extra protein and so that my wife has eggs to bake with. Personally I think that without eggs we would still get enough B12 from our soil via the vegetables that we eat as they are not sterile like those found in the supermarkets.

Anyway, we have thought about both ducks and geese but have so far decided that chickens would be the easiest for us to manage in the area we have allocated for them.

Thanks for your inquiry and for the interesting information on the amounts of b12 found in goose eggs...I had no idea there was so much more in them compared to chicken eggs.

MikeH said...

Personally I think that without eggs we would still get enough B12 from our soil via the vegetables that we eat as they are not sterile like those found in the supermarkets.

B12 is not found in any significant amounts in plants.

Vitamin B12 for the Vegetarian is helpful on the subject.

Mr. H. said...

MikeH - Thanks, I will check that link out but here are my thoughts on B12 in our diet.

First, B12 comes from bacteria found in the soil. Changes in agricultural production in these modern times have no doubt virtually eliminated the B12 that can be found on the surface of fresh vegetables, especially root vegetables.

My guess is that in the past, when people ate carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, and various other vegetables fresh from the ground, the soil left clinging to the vegetables often contained plenty of Vitamin B12. Unfortunately today's poor soil and sterile conditions prevent one from obtaining adequate amounts of B12 in this manner.

That is unless it comes from one's own organic soil. When we pick a parsnip for example, unless I peel the skin off, and we never do, there is no way all of the soil caught in the cracks and crevices is removed. So inevitably I believe we get enough B12 from eating dirt.:) Dirt that is on our root vegetables...and we eat lots and lots of these root vegetables.

I do not think that any study I have ever read about B12 has been done on small organic vegetables from rich healthy soil. I have a feeling that most of these studies are done on vegetables that come from our modern day, sterile soiled, chemical laden, monoculture farms. I might be wrong about all of this but it really is my opinion based on the fact that B12 comes from the soil that we do indeed get plenty enough from our own garden.

That said I do think that you are right and that your average vegetarian and especially vegans might be lacking B12 as most of them quite possibly do not eat "dirty" produce from their own organically enriched gardens.

What do you think? Without a professional analysis of our own garden produce there is no way for me to prove any of this...just my opinion.

Kumi said...

Great post! We had looked into keeping chickens earlier this year, and found out that there is a limit of two hens in our city limits. We need to think about it more, but I'm going to bookmark this post for when the time comes!

MikeH said...

I've come across the statements that B12 comes from the soil on many of the alternative health websites. I'm not an expert. In fact, I know very little about B12 much beyond the fact that it is the most complex of the vitamins. That suggests to me that it's not as simple as "comes from the soil". I'd love to see references that confirm that.

I did come across a vegan site that apparently deals very comprehensively with B12 including the unwashed, organic vegetable source.

Mr. H. said...

Kumi - Two young hens will still give you a nice amount of eggs. Here is a link that gives some pertinent information on different breeds and how well they lay. Hope you are enjoying the holidays.:)

http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/breed-list.aspx

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Wonderful post! I'm relatively new to chickens as well.

I never knew that chickens could eat ash. What a great tip!

I never bother drying and grinding up their shells. I just kind of grind them up with my hand and give them right back. Maybe its not the right way, but they seem to do it themselves if an egg falls on the ground and cracks.

As far as money making concerns go, I've found that selling fertile hatching eggs of purebred chickens can fetch a pretty penny. I don't know if you have a rooster or not, but we sold our chicken eggs by the dozen last season for $9/dozen, and many times they were backordered! Also, this year, I'm going to invest in a couple of Cochin or some such large chicken that will readily sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch them out. That way I can sell chicks to the locals. :)

Mr. H. said...

Vegetable Gardcen Cook - I had not thought of the possibility of selling fertile eggs...what a great idea. Wow, now you have me thinking, I'll have to give this some serious consideration. I'm glad you left this comment.:)

Mr. H. said...

MikeH - Sorry about that, looks like you got stuck in the spam folder for some reason and I did not see your comments. I have enjoyed this conversation and found your latest link to be very interesting, especially the living food eaters in Finland section. If you ever come across any more in depth info. on B12 and the soil I would love to read more about it. I'm off to read more of the vegan site.

I'm going to have to figure out how you put links with words on the comment section like that...all I can ever do is post the URL.

MikeH said...

My son who was vegetarian, then vegan, then raw food identified the B12 problem and dealt with it via the supplement root although even that gave him a philosophical problem. I don't actively look for info on B12 but I'll certainly pass along anything that I stumble across.

The html syntax is a> href="url">Link text< at the beginning and the missing > at the end.

Mr. H. said...

MikeH - Thanks, our diet is about 60% raw fruits and vegetables and the rest mostly vegetarian (cooked foods, eggs, dairy) in nature although we do occasionally, albeit rarely, eat a little meat too...mostly fish. So we are not in any real danger when it comes to B12 at this point.

Anyway, I really want to test this URL thingy out so here is another interesting article on B12

It looks like it worked...Thanks a bunch Mike.:)

meemsnyc said...

That's great that you supplement their diet with root vegetables. I bet they love it. I think they are living well!

Mr. H. said...

Meemsnyc - They are very spoiled...sometimes I think that they eat better than we do.:)

foodgardenkitchen said...

I love the Auden quote! And the one about mechanization. There's nothing like doing actual labor that will make modern people understand how many inventions happened. Thanks for sharing the info in this post - I enjoyed readin it :)

Mr. H. said...

Foodgarden kitchen - I'm glad you enjoyed the post.:) We have been feeding the chickens double rations of these vegetables since the temperatures have been so low and they have gobbled everything up. The good news is that they have hardly eaten any of their store boughten grains the past few days...do chickens really need to eat all of these grains? Perhaps not. I have also been really suprised that their egg laying has picked up quite a bit...even with the colder temperatures we have had of late.

Kelly Crawford said...

My dad used to raise chickens before but not now anymore. It was kind of a trial when he raised some. Now he is more focused on another so-called business. I miss how the chicken sounds, really! :) How are your chickens now? By the way, I cam across this interesting site: http://products.mercola.com/vitamin-b12-spray/ You may wanna check out 'coz they got a lot of info about vitamin 12.

Mr. H. said...

Kelly - Our chickens are doing great, they have been enjoying our cool summer and spending most of their daylight hours out and about foraging for bugs, greens, and seeds. Hope you get to experience the whole chicken raising adventure again someday too. Thanks a bunch for that link...very interesting information.

Bessie Wills said...

Hi MikeH,

You said "I've come across the statements that B12 comes from the soil on many of the alternative health websites. I'm not an expert. In fact, I know very little about B12 much beyond the fact that it is the most complex of the vitamins."

I'm quite agree with you, vitamin b12 is one of the important vitamin we need in our body, even vegetarians and fruitarians need this to fully boost their health. My friend recommend this http://products.mercola.com/vitamin-b12-spray/ instead of taking vitamin b12 shot. It's quite effective, im really alive now unlike before i'm so depressed.

Mr. H. said...

Bessie - Thanks, I'll check that site out.:)

Andy Alex said...

Chicken feeds on grated vegetable and fruit, grain products and alfalfa hay and love worms, fish and meat too. Poultry feeds are available as bulk or bagged mixes.

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