Saturday, April 21, 2012

If you raise chickens and enjoy the beach now and then, be sure to take a 5 gallon bucket with you. Like many extinct dinosaurs, chickens NEED grit in their gizzards to grind their food...if that grit is based on calcium carbonate, it also provides calcium for their bones and to build strong eggshells. Commercial oyster shell grit from a feed store can be very pricey and keep you from actually saving money by raising your own eggs. Here in Florida many beaches will have a ridge of finely pulverized seashells all along the high tide line that is easily scooped into that bucket. A five gallon bucket full should meet the needs of a dozen chickens for about 3 months. Sometimes I scatter the seashell grit on the ground, other times I pour it into a designated container...they will eat it when they need to.

It can be a good idea to have another 5 gallon bucket in your car for each beach trip....seaweed washed onto the shore makes a wonderful addition to your chickens' diet, not to mention your compost barrel and sheet composting efforts. Fish carcasses, dropped into water or, better, compost or manure tea in a barrel, and left to decompose for a month or more, will bless your soil and plants with a nutrient-laden liquid fertilizer that costs you nothing. You go to the beach to have fun then come home laden with natural treasures!

People new to chicken raising often get caught up in their enthusiasm and spend tons of money needlessly and, sometimes, fruitlessly, making "break even" a distant event, if ever. As a pathological tightwad my entire adult life, for me it is fun plus much more financially sustainable, to employ creative extreme frugality to acquire your birds, then house and feed them, so that each egg or morsel of meat is MUCH LESS expensive than the inferior factory farm equivalents in the store.

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