Whats natural in chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ozexpat, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    I am really mystified by the "natural" thing.

    1. what part of natural is introducing something that is not part of an animals diet into their diet natural?
    2. if a chemical is not part of an animal's diet, then whether it was produced by a plant or by a test tube, is there a difference as it is alien to the animal?

    now i give my chickens coconut sap vinegar - like ACV in the tropics but feeding them DE or Chilli - is that natural

    Most medications are made to be very specific and often from chemicals found in nature.

    When we give them a "chemical" its all they are getting. When we give them a plant thats not a part of their natural diet, is it more natural or are we just making ourselves feel better?

    I would love opinions. I would also love to not get emotional retorts to others' opinions.

    This could be a interesting thread or it could be world war three

    lets try and just keep it interesting.
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    1 person likes this.
  3. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    i guess part of it is determining whats natural.

    you are right in-so-far as what we feed our chickens is not part of their natural diet. Then again, the modern chicken is so far removed grom gallus gallus - the jungle fowl - that an argument could be made that the chicken is not natural. A huge percentage of birds - those that end up on our supermarket shelves can not live long enough to reproduce yet they are the grand children and children of birds we backyarders call dual purpose.

    Obviously, I am not "organic" chicken person because I will always give an antibiotic than watch an animal die. After watching 100 quail die from ulcerative enteritis, I give bacitracin to my quail chicks.

    I like the romantic concepts of organic, but need convincing that its the way to go
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I like it because it has better long term affects than does using medicines to solve health issues in animals. Of course, I'm not meaning just giving natural remedies and such, so much as I am a proponent of natural livestock management as a whole. One cannot just use natural remedies and improve overall flock health, no more than they can with medicine.

    In my system, the quail would never have gotten ulcerative enteritis in the first place, so watching them die from it isn't an issue. There are ways and means in a livestock paradigm to prevent such a widespread outbreak of illness and none of these ways use medicine, but they do use natural ways to prevent disease transmission and build better immune systems, use stock more prone to disease and parasite resistance, etc.

    I think people can't see the forest for the trees in an all natural livestock paradigm..they think it's all about using medicines or not using medicines, feeding GMO feeds vs. organic feeds, and even about feeding all sorts of healthy ingredients in the feed but none of these things comprise the basis of a natural system and why and how it works. One has to stand back and look at the whole picture of their flock, where they live, how they live, what breeds and their respective traits are being used, and how far will you go to keep all these things in balance to produce a healthier animal, a healthier flock and even a healthier footprint on the soils and habitat of the birds.

    One cannot improve flock health by simply throwing health foods or remedies at it no more than they can by giving vaccines and medicines...those are all temporary and short term fixes for target areas of a long term problem with a broader spectrum..and they never work for the long term or broader spectrum.
    3 people like this.
  5. subhanalah

    subhanalah Overrun With Chickens

    keep the best, eat the rest?
  6. subhanalah

    subhanalah Overrun With Chickens

    Does anyone really try to go for a natural chicken diet? What would it comprise of? Insects and mice? Do people raise insects or rodents to feed to their chickens, or do they just raise their own plant matter for the chickens?
  7. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    how would you have prevented quail disease?
  8. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree in both cases to an extent.

    Firstly, what's natural? It could be argued either case, man made versus found in the wild, or what the stock would eat in the wild vs other. A chicken is never ever going to find a scrambled egg in the wild yet it produced the food source, so that aspect is debatable on both fronts.

    Personally, I would argue the former. Natural is something that occurs without or with minimal (ie, harvesting, preparing, mixing etc) human interaction. IMO, it's 'natural' to grow a sweet corn, then harvest it, peel it and give it to the flock, even though that same chicken would most likely never eat that in the wild.

    As for the other part of the discussion, which is 'better' I look to history and scale.

    In early history our forebears MUST have done things naturally, and I presume it was not good enough. Arguable why it was not good enough, but I would guess it was due to scale. It's easy to keep a flock of 20 birds naturally, feeding your family and turning over stock in the flock each season. It is not so easy to do this with 10,000 birds, sheep, cattle or fish and feed a town.

    I guess it comes down to bucks and tradition on that front. Farms were developed to earn money, and are typically passed on through families. Families pass on techniques so save stock, and therefore make more money.

    I prefer as close to a natural path as practical, but like Oz, I won't hesitate to medicate or prevent loss through non natural techniques. It's easy to let our flock out, grow our own supplemental produce for them, but I can't imagine doing that on a scale big enough to keep a population fed without some sort of non natural interference to either keep them healthy or fed.

    If only it was practical to only 'eat what you keep'.
  9. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    I believe it goes beyond diet.... You have to consider Everything... I am leaning towards fermented feed myself At least I am going to give it a try when I get my flock started again.... I will simply use what is available and has a good quality... I dont vaccinate either. I dont show or travel with my birds and i wont be raising the egg layers for sale or for anything but my own consumption.... I might even try Cornish Cross to see if I can get past the whole processing learning curve.

    My coop is a fresh air coop with perches high enough to make them all fly up to roost. It provides wind protection and shade as well as protection from rain and predators. Exercise is another part of natural keeping. Ideally I would free range to supplement their diet. Here in the desert Surprisingly there is alot for them to eat. But unfortunately the predators here are off the charts. So I am going to be relegating them or at least the ones that arent agile fliers to a netted back yard of about 100 x 50feet.

    I will also be raising Guinea Fowl and Sumatras though and I will be free ranging them. Guinea fowl are popular here for many reasons and I will have a steady market for them. The Sumatras are just.... "Way Cool" LOL. Sumatra hens are excellent broodys... and chicken raised Guineas are a little saner.

    I am very interested in the discussions here and am here to learn.... [​IMG]

  10. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    Some literature I have read on "organic" encourages vaccinations in organic farming and USDA permits syntheitic vaccines.

    Australia has a policy of not permitting vaccines unless the disease is endemic, then its ok and wont effect organic certification.

    I work in healthcare and see in humans how vaccinations save lives.

    i have chickens in a country with coryza,. I vaccinate. it works. Its way better than trying to save 12 week old chickens by loading their bubly stinky snot coryza heads full of sulfonamides and tetracyclines

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