How did chickens survive before modern times?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Strikefalcon, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. Strikefalcon

    Strikefalcon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2011
    Hi. I was just going through some threads because I was wondering if soybeans were toxic to chickens. What struck me was how technical feeding HennyPenny has become. How did chickens survive before Ralston P. and the likes. Anyways, what are the negitives to feeding soybeans.

  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    They survived by scavenging - dropped feed from livestock, undigested seeds from manure, scraps thrown out by the household. They didn't lay as many eggs as today's chickens do, but they survived just fine (obviously). Today's chickens would survive just as well. However today we want chickens to produce an "egg a day", and that kind of production requires a diet that contains more nutrition than a scavenger's diet.
  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    I have wondered about this, but concerning old chicken breeds that won't go broody, or rarely go broody.

    For example, Leghorns are an old breed from Italy that rarely go broody. I am guessing that the hens must have gone broody often enough to keep the breed going.

    I understand that with breeds like Rhode Island Red, which was created by selectively breeding in the 1800s, have been kept going through the assistance of people.
  4. RHRanch

    RHRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Or the farmers might have done what I do... put the eggs from non-broody breeds under broody hens of other types. I keep some broody breeds (games) just to hatch eggs from other breeds.
  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    I guess in the 6,000 years since chickens were domesticated they have had a lot of time to develop into non-brooders like Leghorns.

    Farmers must have had a mix of chickens around in order to have broody hens. This allowed some types of chickens to survive even though those hens wouldn't hatch eggs.

    But long ago I don't think a farmer had as many options about the type of chicken that was available. It is interesting how some types of chickens survived.
  6. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    Aren't silkies one of the oldest breed of chicken? And super-broody at that.
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Back in the 30's from what my father told me family's stuck together. In the summers my father was shipped to live with kinfolk because down south yellow fever was around & during the summers the parents didn't want the young to get sick. He said money wasn't an issue because no one had any. The family mainly farmed the land & put up canned goods to survive. My father would hunt for food such as squirrel & rabbits for the family's dinner, I know they had chickens but he never said. I'm sure they ate the eggs & a few chickens. It was definitely a different world.
  8. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    I was wondering how non-broody breeds survived. I can see how broody breeds like Silkies survived. But Silkies also needed human protection to survive because they can't fly into a tree to roost. They need humans to provide a secure coop.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  9. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    I think you misunderstood. The discussion is about how chickens survived.

    The original poster was wondering how chickens didn't eat poisonous plants and die.

    I was wondering how non-broody breeds of chickens were able to survive.
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    It's a wonder the Cardinal survives without people putting out bird feeders....Seriously? The jungle fowl and up to modern chickens can forage quite well. If left alone would naturally select back to great foragers, hearty to whatever climate they happen to be in and go broody each spring at the very least. More over would survive with varying patterns that would weed out white birds for camouflage.

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