Episode 45 Show Notes

Fermented Feed Update

The fermented feed experiment is under way – at least partially. Our latest batch of baby chicks has been snacking on fermented feed for just over a week. We decided to delay the implementation with the adult birds, mostly out of my laziness.

Fermenting the first batch was easy and went as expected, except that one of us overfilled the container with feed (about two-thirds full). After the feed began to suck up all the initial water, it expended and over flowed the glass jar we were using. That was quickly remedied by splitting the contents between two glass jars.

With the baby chicks divided into two teams, we began feeding the fermented starter/grower to one of them. They went crazy for it and now eagerly await their plate full of fermented delight every morning and evening.

So after just one week of our experiment, the chicks on Team Fermented Feed are now 20% heavier than the chicks on Team Regular Old Feed. This is not exactly a scientific experiment, but the results are encouraging.

Are My Pullet Eggs Safe?

Ryan emailed to ask if it is okay to eat the eggs from his pullets who are still on medicated starter/grower.

The conventional wisdom has been not to eat eggs if your pullets have been eating the medicated feeds in the past several weeks, but I called the bio braniacs at Purina and they said that the coccidiastat in the medicated feeds does not leave the chicken’s gut and does not transfer to the egg.

Is Grass Seed Safe for Chickens?

Daphne emailed us from Texas to ask if it is safe for chickens to eat grass seed. She wants to grow grass in the run area of her coop, but she is concerned that the chickens will get sick if the eat grass seed.

I am not aware or any chemicals or coatings used on grass seed that could be harmful to the flock, but you might be wasting your time. If your birds have access to an area that has been seeded, they will hunt down and eat every speck of grass seed before it has a chance to grow. So if you want to grow grass from seed, you will have to exclude the flock from that area.

A quicker option may be to go to your local sod farm and buy enough grass to transplant into your run area.

In Search of? Better Broiler

Last year we began to process some of our heritage birds for meat. Heritage breeds are very different from the chicken you find in the grocery store.

For one thing, heritage birds grow more slowly. The extra time it takes to reach butcher weight has two effects. First, it makes the meat more flavorful. It also makes the meat less tender.

Heritage birds are also proportioned a little differently than the Cornish Cross carcass you find in the store. The Cornish Cross is mostly breast meat, whereas the heritage birds are mostly dark meat.

As much as we have enjoyed the chickens we processed, we have come to miss the large portions of breast meat available in the Cornish Cross. So, I have kicked into mad scientist mode and am trying to develop a better broiler for our needs.

We are okay with the slower growth times associated with the heritage birds. We like the increased flavor they provide. We are also okay with the fact that they are less tender. That can be overcome by using slow and wet cooking methods instead of quick and dry methods.

I recently received a new batch of baby chicks. There are several Cornish rooster in that batch. The Cornish breed has a natural double breast, so we hope that by crossing them with hefty hens, we will be able to develop a hybrid broiler that will put more breast meat on the dinner table.


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