Friday, February 5, 2010

Feeding Chickens Discards

If you are considering raising chickens, be aware that commercial chicken feed is expensive, and many visitors here comment on the extreme robust healthy appearance of my birds, who live on weeds, bugs, seashell grit from the high tide line at Picnic Island Beach (for their gizzards and nice THICK eggshells), leftovers, but mostly scraps from two neighborhood restaurants. One is a Chinese/Japanese/American fusion buffet I treat myself to monthly, and a few days ago, after I ate there, I drove around back where the owner had a kitchen worker pull out a garbage can laden with scraps from people's plates. It took me five minutes to separate about 20 lbs. of a very wide range of meats, veggies, rice, seafood, noodles, sushi, you name it into a cardboard box. (as a dumpster diver I always keep in my car a towel and an Arizona Green Tea jug filled with a homemade orange oil hand cleaner for moments like this).

Once home, I spread some in an area for the new younger chickens to forage on, then let the older, dominant, at times mean chickens feed directly from the box. They LOVED it. Chickens seem hard-wired to like food that is "alive" is always hilarious to see how excited they get when they pick up a long Chinese noodle and it "moves"!!

So ask around to see if a friend, neighbor or relative works at a restaurant or school cafeteria, or, like me, just dumpster dive scraps from restaurants. I give the owners of this buffet fresh eggs whenever I eat there, and they take a few bucks off my meal plus set aside scraps for me now and then. Years ago they were thrilled to see a camera and sound crew from 'Animal Planet' around their dumpster as they shot a segment of how I feed my chickens this way.

Here are a couple pics of that box of kitchen scraps, and, if I can find them, the delightful 'Animal Planet' guys hard at work!


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