Feeding Meat Resulting in Aggression

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Harrisheart, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. Harrisheart

    Harrisheart In the Brooder

    May 3, 2011
    (For arguments sake let's pretend bugs and such don't count.)

    I read on this forum quite a bit and it seems to me that a lot of BYCers feed their flocks meat. Chickens being omnivores I never even think twice about it. I've even fed my girls some deer scraps when I had the chance. I wish I had more meat to treat them to, actually!

    Recently I was told by my roommate that chickens shouldn't get meat because it will make them mean and that a man lost an entire flock to aggression after feeding them meat. Though I know these people to be trustworthy in animal matters this for me is...just not something I can believe. I mean even without being fed it directly (and not counting bugs) free range flocks get meat from mice and snakes and the like. The closest thing I can imagine is that the birds were aggressive natures but subdued from malnutrition and that perhaps the meat riled them up by boosting their health or...something. I don't know. I'm torn. I feel like I'm offending my friend by not believing them :/.

    I would like to hear what everybody here has to say about this. Has anybody ever had a flock or even a bird turn mean after feeding them meat? And on the opposite side - has anybody been feeding meat for a long while without trouble? And if so how often do you give your birds meat and how much do you give them? I'd like to have opinions from people more experienced than myself before I decide on this matter on the off.

    (I'm sorry if this has been discussed before I have been trying to search but all I seem to find is articles on meat birds lol.)
  2. krista74

    krista74 Songster

    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I do feed my girls meat. Not whopping great steaks or anything (they would have to pry those from my hubby's hands, lol) but they do get left over spaghetti bolognese (love it), any sandwich meat like ham or strasbourg when I feel it's nearing it's due date, bacon scraps, left over tuna and some dinner scraps as long as they are not too fatty or salty.

    Granted, I haven't had my chickens for long (only since March) but I've never seen any aggression in my flock.

    I've also (touch wood) never had an egg-eater, nor have I had any feather pecking issues. I attribute some of that to dumb luck, and some (potentially) to the fact that my girls get a decent amount of protein in their diets.

    Am I doing the right thing in feeding meat to them? Who knows. There are some folk who say we should feed nothing but layers pellets, but how boring would that be?!

    My girls have free access to a good quality layers pellet, plus their shell grit. They also get a bucket of greens every day for breakfast. They forage and free range for bugs and creepy crawlies a few hours a day, and they get their occasional table scraps.

    They seem like healthy, happy birds to me! They also lay pretty well (when they're not brooding, which they all seem to want to do at the moment!)

    At the end of the day, that's what counts to me.

    - Krista
  3. SireniaSolaris

    SireniaSolaris In the Brooder

    Jun 14, 2014
    South FL
    I, too, feed my chickens meat. If there are table scraps left over that are not too salty, it goes to my hens. They are beyond sweet. While they free range my yard, they will often hop up on my lap to be pet if I'm sitting on my yard chair.

    My Little three year old even picks them up without issue. We had a rooster of the same temperament who also enjoyed the table scraps. In spite of his sweet disposition with US, he did great at protecting his hens. He fought off a large opossum then mysteriously died a week later.

    So ... it is my opinion that it was mere coincidence for your friend's flock that got aggressive. There must have been another underlying reason for that. Everyone I know around here with chickens utilizes the "garbage dumpster" feature of their flock and no one has ever had any problems that I know of.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Mine get meat periodically as offal from deer, cattle or fish carcasses, some as vertebrate prey such as amphibians, reptiles and small birds and animals they catch while foraging. Only the offal version is a concern where I make certain diet as a whole does not get out of balance where protein being to high is not the concern, rather it is insufficient intake of other nutrients such as vitamins the meat is low in. When insect hatches involves ants / termites or hawking from grasshoppers and crane flies is particularly productive, the protein intake is a lot higher than can be realized by eating offal yet the insect prey are closer to being nutritionally balanced. When protein intake is high they do seem to develop cravings for other nutrient sources such as greens and starchy grains apparently in an effort to balance intake. Current flock based on house has exceptional insect forage base where they quickly consume all they want, then they begin begging for whole corn and BOSS. After filling up on insects they will hammer the grains yet look at live mealworms and only eat them slowly.

    I have not seen aggression resulting from feeding meat. If aggression does result, it maybe where dietary balance is off due to chronic feeding of meat where is represents too much of the diet. Similar changes possible by feeding too much scratch grains.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  5. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Songster

    Dec 10, 2013
    My chickens get meat on a fairly regular basis and they have never turned aggressive. As a flock owner you will get lots of advice. Some wanted, some not. Just accept the advice and continue doing what you feel is best for you and yours. My girls get meat in the form of table scraps at least twice a week.
  6. The "usual" reasons for chickens picking each other are malnutrition, crowding and boredom.

    Feeding a balanced diet and making sure your chickens have plenty of room will go a long way toward stopping problems.

    Personally I think feed manufacturers are making a huge mistake when taking animal protein out of feed formulations.

    ETA - yes I feed my chickens meat and meal worms and earth worms.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Free Ranging

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Pigs with feathers, that's what chickens are.

    Mine get meat scraps, regularly with other non meat items to clean out the fridge. (old milk, pasta, bread ends) I also feed meat juices, bacon grease, and crock pot juices to them. The only meat I don't feed them is chicken, just because I think it's morbid. We rarely have any leftover chicken anyway, because I eat it for lunches on my salad. Is it the primary source of their diet? Of course not, it's more of a weekly treat.

    Common sense says that you don't feed anything moldy or completely rotten to them, but it's possible some people do, and can make their flocks die. (Botulism) But not go mad. I would ask your friend what the circumstances were in this flock, just out of curiosity. But realize that some people will tell you that your hen won't lay eggs without a rooster. These people just have no clue about animals.

    Chickens are opportunistic eaters, so we sometimes joke here that if you died in your run, your flock would eat you. [​IMG]
  8. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Crowing

    And don't feed your birds when you are bleeding from some kind of an injury, things can get real busy real fast.
  9. Harrisheart

    Harrisheart In the Brooder

    May 3, 2011
    Thanks for all the info, guys! It really did not add up in my head but I guess what I really wanted was reassurance ^^;. I'm not sure I'll ever know what happened to his flock - frankly I am afraid to ask in case I come across as rude for not believing the original cautionary tale. And I don't want trouble with my good friend and roomie for not believing what she told me, either. She doesn't believe her father is wrong about anything, ever. And while I have never seen him be wrong before I have to say he is on this. I mean anybody can be wrong about something, we're human after all! I don't know why people make it into a bad thing to be mistaken on something. Heck I made this thread because I thought I was wrong XD.

    I wouldn't be surprised if I died in the pen and my flock ate me. While they may like us and even be affectionate toward us I'm pretty sure chickens don't hold the emotional taboo that humans have for bodies. Once dead a body is meat after all even if it used to be your friend. Ew! [​IMG].
    What lovely late night thoughts XD.

    Duly noted, scottcaddy! I'm almost afraid to ask if the warning is in general or of there is a story behind it...?? I've never made that mistake though my chickens will pick at any marking on my skin be it scratches from my cats or dirt or one particular larger freckle on my hand they try to remove all the time, lol. Luckily they're not rough about it!
  10. vehve

    vehve The Token Finn

    I think this one is a bit like when people believe that dogs will turn aggressive when you feed them raw meat. We have two hunting labradors, that are kept on a BARF diet. They are about as far from aggressive as possible, can be left out alone with the chickens without a problem, and have never tried to chew on a bird they're retrieving, be it a cold dead bird used for training, a bird that's just been shot down, or even a bird that has only been wounded by a shot.

    And we feed the chickens meat as well, both cooked and raw, and I haven't seen any issues with aggression.

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