Raiding the compost bin

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by yyz0yyz0, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I have fruits and veggies that are moldy or obviously bad I don't throw them to the chickens, I put them in the compost bin instead. The other day I had a bag of grapes that looked like a science experiment, they were all covered with white mold. So of course they got added to the compost bin. Later in the day when the girls were out free ranging they were in the compost bin and I saw one of them down a moldy grape.

    Should I be worried about this and block them from getting into the compost bin?
     
  2. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes. The birds should not have access to spoiled feed stuffs. Botulism toxins and mycotoxins are highly dangerous to their health.
     
  3. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, I don't think you should be worried. I subscribe to the completely opposite school of thought, just to confuse you more! [​IMG] But I feel that history and biology strongly support it. My compost pile is rather designed to be a part of my chicken run, and everything we throw out from the kitchen or fridge or gardens goes onto it, moldy or whatever. The chickens eat whatever they want to eat out of it, and the rest composts. They also eat the bugs and worms that live in the composting material, and their scratching as they forage naturally shreds and turns the materials to some degree even. If you search around for "chickens and compost" or "compost runs" etc. you'll find all kinds of people doing similar things. There is even a commercial composting company in northern VT that raises layers that forage in the piles. Chickens and compost piles have a natural symbiotic affinity that can be utilized to great success with a little planning.

    Chickens love to eat garbage. Just the other day I saw a wild one eating something nasty-looking that someone had dropped in a parking lot, and it looked quite healthy to me! The Icelanders call their native landrace "pile chickens" because they are always seen foraging in piles of rotting manure and such. Chickens have been recycling food wastes and making use of garbage heaps since the dawn of time, and it's what makes them so functional and frugal. Compare also pigs.

    As to safety concerns, I have yet to see a chicken eat something overtly harmful to it. I have never had a chicken die of botulism poisioning, nor do I know anyone who has. They are very good at knowing what is ok to eat, as evolution and millenia of sorting through garbage for edibles has conditioned them well. I'm not saying that weird things couldn't happen--but I just cannot in good in good concience recommend precautions for things I don't think are worth worrying about. You could purchase and install a lightning rod on your coop to protect your chickens from random strikes, or stock up on tiger traps, in case there is an breakout at the local zoo, or not buy storebought feed because it might be contaminated with rat fleas carrying bubonic plague, but I don't see the point of that kind of thinking.

    So, in short, I don't think you should be worried in the least. And consider allowing your chickens regular access to the compost pile, if it's practical for you to do so. Just like I tell anyone who takes my chicken-keeping workshops.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
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  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You are what you eat. So goes with your chickens. That includes all the chemicals, antibiotics and hormones....known and unknown... in the garbage you tossed out for them to eat. So, what are you getting ready to eat in the "fresh" eggs or the "fresh" meat on your plate?
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Well, my theory is, whatever I toss out there was once intended to be food for my family. Absolutely anything I buy intending to feed my family is darn well good enough for a chicken to eat. If you have food scraps you don't think are good enough quality to feed chickens, you'd better rethink the food you're providing your family!
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
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  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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  7. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    What was once intended to be food for your family is the key here. Certain scraps are one thing, but rancid, bacteria laden, maggot egg infested, moldy substances are not recommended for chickens. That's just good sense.
     
  8. Sandstorm495

    Sandstorm495 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This topic can get into a heated argument. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Personally, I would not put mouldy food or rotten scraps in their run, but I often let them forage around in the compost. Like sky the chicken man said, chickens have been foraging around since the dawn of time - and I've never found a problem with it. Their systems are designed to deal with scraps and dirty foods, and I'm not about to stop letting them scratch around in the compost.
     
  9. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: And yet they will happily gobble down maggots off a carcass, or swallow mice whole, with no ill effects,

    *edited by staff*
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
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