One of the challenges of suburban-chicken raising is finding chicken food. The nearest Tractor Supply, our preferred vender, is in McDonough, so when we visit my inlaws down that way, we try to pick up a bag. One time we ran out and had to resort to a fancy organic gardening store that caters to yuppies - the price for 20 pounds of their special organic chicken food was 40 bucks. At Tractor Supply we can get 50 pounds of chicken kibble for less than 20 bucks. You do the math.
It may seem hardhearted on my part not to spring a few extra sawbucks to get my birds a fancier feed, but my chickens eat dirt. This is a fact. I've seen them do it. I've not yet seen them turn up their beaks at the Purina Chicken Chow I get at Tractor Supply.
But actually, if my chickens really had their druthers they wouldn't eat Chicken Chow or the fancy organic blend, but leftovers. We had to throw out some pickled beets that had a rime of white mold growing on the surface, so before I buried it, I offered it to the chickens. They went to town on it. When we let some cornbread get moldy - in this humid climate, it takes about twenty-four hours - I pour some buttermilk on it, or if we don't have any buttermilk, some soured skim milk, and the chickens don't just go to town, they go to New York and return by way of Mexico City.
(In case you're confused, this traveling business is just a metaphor for the chickens' gustatory pleasure. They actually do almost no traveling whatsoever.)
And what they love best is a melon rind with just a few scraps of uneaten bits still clinging to it, in which case, they... Well, you get the idea. And I'm glad to see my chickens happy with some taste treat, but I'll be durned if I'm shelling out $40 bucks on 20 pounds of organic chicken food for birds who look forward to bad milk poured on moldy cornbread.
(Originally posted 2012)