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Grandma Was Right! Raise Your Chickens the Old Fashioned Way

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People are starting to do things right. And they are looking backwards to do it. The time worn saying that you can’t improve on perfection is true. Before the age of toxic chemicals and environmentally destructive agriculture, we were practicing sustainable farming. It turns out the old way — was the right way.

We now call traditional food production “organic” and use terms like “farm-to-table.” Our ancestors were aware of the woven unity of everything on the earth. We now call this one-world/one health. Antibiotic resistant bacteria and pesticide-ready GMO seeds are significant problems—because what we put into the environment (air or water) isn’t so easy to take out. The good news is we can turn the table by going natural! And the best part is …it’s so easy.

You can raise your chickens the right way

Chickens have been living with humans for thousands of years!

But chickens were respected and valued. They were allowed to breed for health and vigor, and homes were set up to foster flock happiness. From ancient Rome to the east coast of Africa, people knew that encouraging a natural lifestyle was critical to maintaining flock health. Chronic stress causes disease, and one animal husbandry study called the effect of stress on livestock as “debilitating.”

Health tips: Read the ingredients carefully before purchasing health supplements for poultry. Don’t purchase products with “laundry-list” ingredients and questionable additives – organic poultry feed already provides these nutrients and vitamins. Be wary of creative claims and don’t fall for “coloring” foods, like marigold petals. Marigolds are fine to eat, but they provide NO significant nutritional benefit to the birds or their eggs. Polyunsaturated fat (and that rich, yellow yolk) in eggs comes from providing the chickens with real food sources. 

Put down the supplements and head for the grocery store. The chickens have their shopping list ready for you! Purchase fruits (blueberries, apples, cherries, grapes, watermelon), vegetables (dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards) and nuts. Of course, the birds also love a nutritious veggie that is 100% free. Stock their salad bar with green grasses and dandelion.

Superfoods are super! It is easy to provide the chickens with healthy treats, because they need the same healthy foods that we do! Fruits like the sea buckthorn (excellent source of dozens of plant nutrients and omega 7), blackberries, tomatoes, blueberries, pomegranate and other superfoods are where beneficial phytonutrients come from.

Chickens need protein. Throw in some Tasty Worms and GMO Free - Tasty Grubs and watch the chickens tuck in!

Health Fact: Studies reveal that it takes 50,000 salmonella cells to sicken a healthy chicken. It takes only 10 of these cells to make a stressed bird sick. The Journal of Arkansas Academy of Science, chronic stress leads to “changes in the [animal’s] immune response” that leads to a “decreased resistance to opportunistic bacterial pathogens.”

What you can do!

Chickens find healthy living as invigorating as we do. But, unlike us, the chickens need their lifestyle “tools” brought to their homestead. Clean coops and safe pastures keep your birds’ immune systems in fighting trim. Don’t neglect rotating and resting range. Moving birds to fresh areas prevents parasite and pathogen load on tired ground – old time livestock grazers always moved herds from place to place to allow for grazing areas to replenish themselves.

• Only feed chickens human-grade foods, never moldy or stale foods.

• Clean all food dishes after feeding human foods to prevent flies and germs.

• Don’t leave leftovers hanging around for scavenger pests.

• Keep water bowls clean and freshly filled

Unlike cattle or sheep, chickens prefer foraging in places that have plenty of natural cover, and they will stay within close range of outbuildings, brush, flowerbeds and trees. Chickens love to scratch up their vittles and they need to “work” areas that are blanketed in leaves and mulch. The birds will dine on plants, roots, seeds, insects… they will be seen munching dirt and grit for minerals and to aid digestion.

A note on probiotics: Yogurt is a great snack for birds and vegan yogurt is fantastic, too. Choose brands without added sugar. However, when you want to add probiotics to your chickens’ diet, you must add it through a probiotic supplement. Yogurt does not carry enough of the cultures to really benefit the birds…or you.

Well the older folks were right all along. Let the chickens live a happy and fun life with plenty of chickeny things to do! Those old photos of feisty flocks munching around the barnyard and soaking up the sun are perfect husbandry guides for what your birds need. Grandpa and grandma really knew what was best. 

Share your good ol’ tips with us on Facebook, we want to hear from you!

Salmonella Reference

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/technical.html

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