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Hens drinking vegatable oil

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dazz02, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. dazz02

    dazz02 In the Brooder

    Jul 27, 2012
    I heard that dipping hens feet in vegatable oil can get rid of leg mites. I put a tub down in their doorway where they pass through to get outside then it would help to kill any mites they might have. At the moment they just seem to drink it. I have 2 questions:

    1) Will it do them any harm drinking it as they seem to like it and drinking quite a lot?
    2) Has anyone got any quick ideas of how i can treat all my birds for scaley leg mites that is quick?

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    The only danger I can think of is too much fat in the total dietary intake.
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Vegetable oil is not actually vegetable oil, since vegetables don't actually produce oil. I would stop them drinking it as it is not a healthy oil and will coat their insides and cause them to stop absorbing as much nutrience, and possibly kill them, especially if their diet is low in natural enzymes. Pellets have none, being cooked. This is also the reason most pellet fed chickens are desperate for fats, because cooked oil is simply not good enough to sustain them over the long term. They'll manage for a year or several and then begin to fail if that's all they've ever had available.

    Any oil that is cooked, nor cold pressed, is not readily absorbed by the body and is best given rarely or not at all. It's good for a fast and will help shift worms but can kill them in the long run. Studies linking vegetable oil to disease and death in humans have been published recently but the info has been around for a long time. Canola is actually classed as an industrial lubricant and toxin, but is still fed to humans, but is also another deadly oil animals and humans should avoid.

    All oils you use internally should be cold pressed. Olive oil is great and has many health benefits for humans and animals. If your hens are drinking vegetable oil they are desperate for natural essential oils, as most layer or crumble fed poultry are. Keeping correct levels of essential oils in their diet prevents everything from egg binding to premature ageing, heart attacks, etc.

    For scaly leg, I used diet to cure them but most people don't want to bother with that. It's a permanent fix because a truly healthy diet will prevent them re-infesting but of course takes more time and money than throwing pellets out to them, and so it's not an option for everyone. So an even quicker alternative to treat it is pine tar, aka Stockholm tar. Cover each bird's legs with it and apply another coat in a few days, or whenever it looks totally absorbed, and the scabs will fall off taking all the now dead mites and damaged scales with them, and you'll have healthy legs underneath. Generally takes about two or three applications but it's simple enough. I'd do it at night when they're on the perch. Of course, it's messy, but won't harm them, and will get the job done.

    Best wishes.
  4. dazz02

    dazz02 In the Brooder

    Jul 27, 2012
    What do you feed them on to give them a better diet? i was told that layers pellets contain all that they need to be healthy.
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    'Complete' feeds from stores are almost always the cheapest possible survival rations that will keep them alive for a year or two, and producing. Most humans and most domesticated animals permanently live in a state of malnutrition, and we call this health, because it is normal. People equate normal with natural, or managing to function with true health, but it's not the reality of it. Both animals and humans can subsist on a malnutritious diet for years before dying of the diseases that it causes. But true health isn't as cheap as a substandard level of survival. Commercially, anything that keeps them alive long enough to produce what they're wanted for until culled is classed as 'health'.

    High production commercial breed layers are a breed type that's been developed in conjunction with pellet feeds. They won't lay quite so much unless on that diet. But they pay for that diet with their health and eventually their lives. It's impossible for hens with such a demand on their bodies to be in true health, because their genetics combined with their feed triggers them to lay continuously rather than regenerate as normal hens do. They reach what should be the start of their prime already prematurely aged, exhausted from the biological strain of producing so far beyond the natural seasonal limits. Then, at around two years old, production drops off steeply enough for people to usually just cull and replace.

    These hens are good for the person who wants almost nonstop eggs that are better than cage eggs, but not as good as a hen who is able to stop, rest, and regenerate between laying seasons.

    So all this depends on what you want from your chickens and how much time and money you're able or willing to spend. Health isn't as cheap as disease in the short term, but disease is fatally expensive in the long run. Trying to regain what never went in is impossible.

    I keep a mongrel flock and cull for various things including non dual purpose traits, as I'm developing my own breed. The most recent generations are very good. I keep tag teams of mothers and daughters, since by the time a hen finishes her laying season and needs to take a break, her daughter has reached the age to start. When the mother's ready to start again and the daughter's ready to stop, they swap. Granddaughters etc mix into this team fine.

    Anyway the end result is that I can get the same amount of eggs (or more) from two hens who eat the same amount as one high production hen.

    But my hens will live much longer and keep producing for a minimum of five years, whereas the high production layer's almost useless after two. Shortly after that she will fail, one way or another. And she won't be worth eating, but because my hens were resting and regenerating between laying periods, their flesh is tender and more nutritious. A chicken's real prime is two years old and onwards for a few years, and they can live twenty years or so. I've known chickens well over a decade old to still be laying. I've had high production hens and they're a false economy and I won't keep them again... Unless I find the time and interest to keep them as a breeding experiment to find out whether or not they can be rid of their many issues. I doubt it though.

    I didn't feed pellets nor crumble to mine due to sensitivities in my family. I don't vaccinate nor use man made meds, unless we're talking about things like Stockholm tar, cold-pressed oils, etc (not technically man made but slightly altered from natural form... But most importantly, only very slightly processed and fully naturally assimilated by the body). This is also due to sensitivities.

    I had to make up their diet of natural protein sources like grains, seeds, etc. When we had access to cows or goats I would give them unpasteurized milk or the natural soft cheeses they make when sour. There are various lists on these forums, especially from those with sensitive family members like me, showing the varying protein and nutrient profiles of grains etc which can be used. I used different things as I experimented in obtaining the best health, and this will vary according to what your chickens can handle. Like humans they aren't all able to eat the same things... Some chickens are lactose intolerant, for example.

    Basically my standard chook feed diet is something like this: mixed grains and seeds as the base of the feed, always including at least three of the following: wheat, barley, black sunflower seeds, corn, millet, red sorghum, etc wet down and mixed with powdered or granulated kelp which is the multivitamin and mineral source of choice for me (a pinch per adult bird per day). I'd raise protein levels raised if needed by giving things like copra, sometimes meat/fish meal if I can get a good source (which wasn't often), and raw milk, preferably goat milk if able since most things thrive on it; often I would give them any and every sort of spices and herbs; (sage, nettle, dandelion, parsley, rosemary, cayenne, curry, black pepper, basically anything we eat really)...

    Sometimes I'd add wheat bran or rice bran for extra oils, or just plain cold pressed olive oil. My main staple for controlling viruses, disease, parasites both internal and external, and so forth is raw freshly minced (or crushed) garlic. This prevents cocci. I didn't give all these things in one feed, usually, it was more of a what's available at the time and would cover their daily needs. Sometimes I'd give them honey too, if you have hives or can get raw but cheap honey, it's a great all round health aid.

    I would wet the feed with either water or milk and mix all this together, and feed it to them. It turns out chickens do great on fermented feed, and once I started wetting the feeds, the chickens developed the habit of deliberately burying the feed in the dirt and waiting until the next day to dig it up and eat it. They would do their best to leave it even longer but for a fair while I resisted this and wouldn't feed them until they ate it all... But they liked to bury grains and leave them for as long as a month or so and then dig them up and eat them. If given dry grain they wouldn't bother because it wouldn't ferment. There are many herbs and feed additives that are beneficial for them, so it'll depend on what you can afford in your 'chicken budget'.. Fruit, veg, free-ranging, etc rounded off their diet, since we have a big family there's always scraps.

    Anyway, best wishes, I hope you find what works for you.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  6. so lucky

    so lucky Songster

    Jan 31, 2011
    SE Missouri
    Chooks, do you feel that if chickens are able to free-range each day, they choose the foods they need (if available, of course)? I enjoyed reading your post, as it reflects a lot of my findings and views about people nutrition. Thanks for going to the trouble of explaining all that.
    1 person likes this.
  7. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    I'm glad my post was of some use. The answer to your question, as far as I understand, is 'yes' but it's a very conditional affirmative. Anyway, here's my experiences of and opinion on instincts in chickens:

    Instincts are bred in and out of chickens according to the environment they are within. If it's just a cage, after a few generations (5 is the average before you can count on 'info being deleted', so to speak) they will lose instinct for surviving outside the cage; they'll do things like not escape a predator, eat non-food or toxic things, etc. Misdirected or unnatural instincts are also bred into them according to which behavior the parents exhibited and still lived to breed on, including cannibalism, killing of injured or ill birds, feather-pecking, bullying, violence, chick-killing, egg-eating, etc, if the environment and keeper allow this to occur.

    If they do it once, there's a very good chance they'll do it again, and their offspring might anyway even if they can't do it again. If they do it again, there's almost a guarantee they'll pass it on to some offspring. That's only in the first generation, too. Chickens can suffer from neuroses and mental aberrations as well. If a chook's behavior doesn't kill it, and it perceived some reward for it, it will likely pass it on. This is why culling is the best way to handle severe socially damaging behaviors.

    From my observations and social experiments with chickens and other animals --- but when I say experiment it does not mean I harmed the animal --- I believe only a few instincts or automated responses are strongly fixed. These include pecking at food, drinking, getting out of the sun when they feel too hot, being afraid of something large rushing at them, and flapping when falling or off balance. Very basic survival skills. They're not set in stone, and can also be altered, but obviously most which lack those instincts do not manage to pass on their genes. I think everything else on top of those basic instincts is much more malleable, and changes with the environment they are allowed.

    When chickens breed, the chicks inherit the parent birds' miasma, and their instinct, which are two separate things. Miasma is the tentative beginnings of instinct, in the way I'm using the term. It's the individual chicken's recording of positive and negative experiences with everything they encountered in the lifetime of that particular bird. It also a record of the reactions of that bird to the stimuli it encountered, which if confirmed/rewarded/ reinforced in its offspring can move from suggestion/inclination to become an increasingly strengthened behavioral pattern these offspring will pass on in turn, whether right or wrong. If this parental miasma is not reinforced in their lifetime, they will in all likelihood only pass on those unconfirmed patterns to half their offspring, and they in turn to half of theirs and so on. (Rough generalizations).

    Generally by the 5th generation it's gone if it has not been reinforced. I have no idea why the 5th generation is such a make and break time but it appears to be due to DNA and inheritance and works mathematically so it likely has an actual physical/biological basis. Miasma is like a mental push, a gentle urging to do something. Chickens experiencing the impulses of miasma will often stare at something that's stimulating the ancestral memory, as they try to make up their mind. They're inclined to react a certain way but aren't sure why; the threat or reward is not yet obvious and so they often hesitate. Whatever tips the balance and provokes them to test this idea will then either result in it being confirmed or dismissed. Instinct is something they obey without questioning, or even something they have no control over, but miasma is the chicken's experiment. Agh, lol, such terminology... I hope you know what I mean.

    So, if the parent bird knew about being careful to not eat a certain plant at a certain time, and its offspring are allowed to reinforce/confirm this pattern of behavior, then they will pass it on, as will each generation allowed to confirm it, and by the 5th generation or so it is set as something that family line knows for sure. Now it is a strongly heritable instinct. But if you start caging them or remove the plant, before the 5th generation, that miasma or developing instinct dies out quite fast; it kind of fades into a dream for them. If you remove the plant after the 5th generation, then for a good few more generations they'll know without a doubt how to handle that plant if it appears again, even though they go generations without seeing it.

    Some behaviors have no visible reward, and others are clearly the result of a damaged mind. Bad behaviors are much harder to breed out than in. Good behaviors are harder to breed in than out, but culling for negative traits brings in good ones quicker, especially if you're providing an environment they can explore and interact with. But in my experience it doesn't all come flooding back, it has to be rediscovered. Bad behaviors we often unwittingly force upon them, but good behaviors we have no such ability to forcibly introduce into their environment. A chicken inclined to be peaceful is a likely bet for producing descendants who rediscover good social instincts, whereas a bully of a chicken is inclined to produce offspring who may be even worse. There is a bent they learn towards and their offspring will often enlarge upon the parent's tendencies.

    This is going to sound strange due to the terminology but I hope you understand what I mean. If you take a chook from an ideal free ranging environment, where it's been bred and reared, and put it in a cage for the rest of its life, it will lose some visibility of its inherited patterns of behavior because it cannot reinforce them. They won't be gone, just faded. It will begin to trace new patterns that deal with the constraints of cage life. For the purposes of this example we'll say this chook's male. If you bred this suddenly caged male chook with a free ranging chook, and returned the free-ranger to rear the offspring free ranging, then some of the caged bird's offspring will have occasional pauses as their combined but contradictory instincts from both parents takes a moment to clarify the right response to whatever situation/stimuli has triggered recall of instinct, but overall they'll be normal and return easily, almost seamlessly, to the normal behavior of a free ranger.

    If you bred this caged chook with another suddenly caged chook, however, the offspring would start to show lack of proper instinct. If you reared them caged, and bred them in turn, you would find even less normal instinct and possibly the start of negative misdirected instincts showing. Repeat this for a few more generations, then allow the results to free range, and they will not understand how to cope with the outside world. They'll gradually figure it out, especially if able to watch other chickens because many do learn from others by watching, but they won't be as smart as their free ranging bred and reared brethren. Instinctually, they have been retarded.

    So, long story short, chickens can't retain unconfirmed instinct indefinitely, and it is easy to even accidentally modify or remove certain instincts from the gene pool/inheritance just by absence or presence of stimuli. But reclaiming the good instinct is much harder. Natural instincts need test subjects, over many generations, who tasted this and that plant and lived to tell the tale genetically. Otherwise each of your chickens have one fact from hundreds they need to have to be reliable in the unprotected environment.

    One chicken knowing about the dangers of Oxalis and water that tastes like tin, which then breeds with a chicken knowing about the dangers of styrofoam and Morning Glory, won't save their offspring from spider lily, cane toad toxins, poisonous toadstools, toxic insects, etc. (Random examples). Chickens can be quite slow to learn which moths to leave alone, too. So it's somewhat dangerous to free range any chicken, but at least they're not as bad as cage bred chickens which might eat nails, foot-long grass, string, glass shards, washers, plastics, etc, as well as every toxic thing they find.

    This also depends on where your chicken's most recent ancestors were raised. Free ranging in a suburban backyard or a carefully cultivated paddock gives them no instinct to deal with the varied plants, fungi, insects, and dangers inherent in forests, as an example. It might teach them to avoid otherwise healthy things, too because many insects in suburbia are poisoned, and so are many good plants. Chickens bred for many generations free-ranging in a place in the same country, but with different plants, won't have instincts about the right ones when shipped to your place. Instinct about location specific threats is of course restricted to location.

    You'd have to take risks with cage bred chickens to get them back to functional free-ranger status. It's good to expose them gradually and in small amounts to different things for that reason. Mostly, chickens are very tough livestock and can take more abuse than most other livestock species. They enjoy their lives so much more if free ranging that I can't consider caging even if for their own relative safety. They'll die in the cage, too, but at least if they died outside it they enjoyed their lives.

    The good news there is that chickens are rather like goats. They have powerful and large livers and can detox quite well. They tolerate a LOT of 'taste testing' of toxic things, and when allowed to exercise instincts (and if necessary, nursed through some mistakes), will become pretty clever about spitting out things that don't taste right. A chicken that's nearly died from eating the wrong thing obviously has an important bit of instinct to pass on, unless it was too stupid to remember. Some are, but not many.

    They can also tolerate a lot of toxins that would kill any other livestock bird that I know of. So over a few generations they can quickly build up a heritable library of local knowledge to pass on to their descendants. Even cage-bred birds that are now free-ranging birds can, though they take longer. But in my experience, it's best to not assume any chicken from any background has the complete set of instincts. They can only be trusted with whatever their most recent ancestors were able to confirm is safe or unsafe. Sometimes they're too tough for their own good and need multiple illnesses or injuries before they realize what they've done wrong.

    All the same it's always a good idea to have powdered charcoal in your possession, as well as olive oil or something to act as a rapid purge. Saves a lot of lives. It can even deal with some diseases. Best wishes.

  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Need to add: there are different levels of perceived reward, or enjoyment, they receive. Not all miasma is equal; a terrible enough experience can instantly become a pretty solid near-instinct, almost like skipping a few generations of testing for confirmation/dismissal. If the chicken was hurt or frightened enough and perceived clearly enough what the threat was, it can have a stronger impact than if it wasn't distressed or wasn't overly sure what harmed it. If the experience was terrible and it doesn't know what happened, it can start to gain a leaning towards being hysterical.

    Pleasurable behaviors don't tend to be as strong as negative ones, what with chickens being so survival geared. An example is that it can take one even accidental fright to make a chook try to avoid humans, whereas it tends to take a few acts of well-comprehended gentleness to get a chook to be tame; but tame chooks who trust humans with their lives won't pass on their instinct to as many of their offspring as an untrusting chook will.

    Kelp also makes a big difference in my experience. It helps bring instinct and intelligence into them and this snowballs with every generation. I've had chicks a few weeks old making the food call when they spot food, and other behaviors associated with adults. I suspect my experiences are exacerbated due to my emphasis on total nutrition, whereas those who aren't so bent on it seem to experience the same processes slower.

    CHICKENJOHN42 In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2013

  10. Hi there,
    Sorry for barging in...I was wondering how you give kelp to your chickens? I believe kelp has a lot of benefits.

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