National Bird Feeding Month
FEBRUARY. It’s the sweet month, the month of Love. It is also NATIONAL BIRD FEEDING MONTH. No kidding.
On February 23, 1994, Congressman John Porter (R-IL) proclaimed February as National Bird-Feeding Month when he read a resolution into the Congressional Record. Below is the formal resolution that he read. “Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize February, one of the most difficult months in the United States for wild birds, as National Bird-Feeding Month. During this month, individuals are encouraged to provide food, water, and shelter to help wild birds survive. This assistance benefits the environment by supplementing the wild bird’s natural diet of weed seeds and insects. Currently, one-third of the U.S. adult population feeds wild birds in their backyards.
In honor and recognition of National Bird-Feeding month, I am bursting at the seems to share what seems like a gazillion hours of research and over a decade making feed, to other BYC keepers. Of course, given all of the controversy over a certain Tractor Store that supplies chicken “feed” with egg laying inhibitors, I feel compelled to share some chicken nutrition knowledge, so we can all freely and productively exhibit our right as Americans, to raise a backyard flock.
Chick Season has begun on the farm! For those of you who hatch chicks, you know how undeniably exciting it is when you hear that first muffled peep from the incubator. Then the show begins and one after another “pop” “pop” “pop” and a sea of peeps ensues. If you purchase chicks, the excitement is just as bubbly! That box of chicks gets handed to you and there is no way you can’t peek. Hatch or not, we are all in the same boat when it comes to how to get our chicks off to the right start. Here at the farm, we start our chicks on our 21% protein Cool Chick starter that is enriched with Brewer’s Yeast. I then add water to the feed to make an oatmeal consistency or….FERMENT! (More on fermenting in the next blog).
Most chick starters are crumbles which are not recommended for several reasons: First and foremost because its junk and secondly, and most importantly…it conditions your chickens to be LAZY. That’s a fact. Chickens are very visual creatures. They can see almost behind their heads. So when chickens eat, they want to be interested. Just observe how they scratch and peck. Even if they are scratching at boring old corn, they want to see interest and this interest sparks their little chicken brains. When their little chicken brains get sparked, just like us humans, the neurons connect and they take that curiosity outside to your yard; where they will literally eat 100’s of grubs, ticks, fleas and tiny pests per day.
One of the greatest ways to get the most from a whole grain (grounded for chicks) feed, is to ferment. Fermenting a fresh, whole grain feed is ridiculously easy, reduces feed waste by more than half and will provide chicks with a more Bio Available feed.
Chicks should be given a chick starter from hatch to about 12 weeks. Some people use a grower feed in-between starter and layer but it is not necessary if you are feeding a good chick starter. Whether you buy from us for your feed needs or somewhere else, I strongly encourage Chicken Keepers to find a local mill to purchase their grains. (I can help with this…email me)
Water Additives; Herbs, Spices and ACV
When it comes to water additives, chicken keepers in the know defend their flocks with nature’s medicines. As a chicken keeper, one should never find their flock in the distress condition of Coccidiosis or other insect infestations internally or externally. Once your flock has coccidiosis, it will spread rampantly, is deadly and the medicine used to tread Cocci, is awful on your birds gut health and will break down or at the very least, inhibit their immune system as adults. Same game for external insects, they spread rampantly throughout the flock!
The very best way to fight off the aforementioned aliments, is naturally of course. With a little chopping of some incredibly healing roots, one can make an Elixir that will stave off illness, boost your chicken’s immune system, provide good gut and heart health and offer a more stable bird overall. Also, when you start your chicks off on this elixir, it will get them used to eating herbs and drinking water with garlic and spices. Most people report that if they don’t start their flock on herbs and spices as chicks, they may as well forget trying to give it to their adult chickens. So, start them young and start them right~ Be sure to watch for our next blog “Fermenting Feed 101.”
Happy Chicken Keeping,
(For the recipe that is used on our farm for our chicks, please go to the website and check past blogs)