What's the deal with chickens and meat, anyways?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Jrose, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2013
    Yes no yes no yes no. Every site has a different opinion on feeding meat to chickens. I see several articles here supporting it.
    My opinion is that they're omnivorous and they readily eat carrion, so they must be built for it!

    My girls are BANANAS about meat, especially raw game. I do some taxidermy work, and whenever I'm out in the yard skinning out a deer, the hens are literally climbing over me to get at it. They go at it like vultures! They also L O V E cooked fowl and poultry- and fish. No it doesn't creep me out, it's nature.
    Once I threw a raw wild duck to the dogs, and the chickens actually chased them off and claimed the carcass for their own! I came back out to find the chickens pecking the last morsels off of the breast bone. That kind of freaked me out (raw fowl and all) but that was 9 months ago and everyone's happy and spunky! [​IMG]

    What do others notice about their chickens' relationship with meat? How does it affect them? What have you heard/noticed health wise?
  2. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    I feed mine raw tuna, raw and cooked beef trimmings, and raw and cooked venison trimmings whenever available. I'd love to feed them wild duck carcasses, but that is a little close to home for my liking. I try to limit their intake by not introducing any treats until after their usual morning "gorging" on their regular feed. I've seen no ill effects, but mine haven't reached laying age yet.

    Although my chicken experience is very limited, I've seen them eat absolutely anything they can catch, kill, and shred. Therefore, I've concluded that if they are equipped to kill other animals, they are equipped to eat them. I just try to regulate the volume and not let it distract them from their regular meals.
  3. jeds chickens

    jeds chickens Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 28, 2013
    rural IA
    We feed our chickens meat once in a while and I now others who do it much more often and the hens still lay and act normal. Today I gave them some left over hamburger and they seem fine when I checked on them and they loved it.
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012

    Where did you see an article saying not to feed meat to chickens?

    Chickens can eat most foods, including meat. I would not feed chickens just meat, though. Variety is good.

    You must have some small or timid dogs. :)
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Any book, magazine article, or post on here on that subject is opinion. Just because it is written down doesn’t mean it is true, my posts or anyone else’s.

    In my opinion, chickens are omnivores. They go by the principle, “Do lunch or be lunch”. If it doesn’t eat them, they eat it. Mine go bananas over small snakes, mice, and especially frogs. If I give them meat, they eat it. When I buy chicken feed I look to see that it has “animal products” as an ingredient because I think animal protein is good for them. I just shake my head when I see a bag of “vegetarian chicken feed”. That’s just not natural.

    When some people see a rooster and hen mating, “That rooster is raping my hen!!!” When a hen pecks another establishing the pecking order “That hen is being a brute and a bully!!! What do I do?” Some of us see that as chickens being chickens. Yeah, different people have different opinions on things. My opinion is it is good for chickens to eat meat.
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    It's just like with humans. Chickens can survive on a vegetarian diet, but for the most part people and chickens have eaten meat for as long as they have existed.

    Most people seem to agree that when chickens are eating bugs, worms, etc. that their eggs are better. And if a mouse runs through the coop, that is the end of that mouse because the chickens will kill it and eat it. Yes, it is natural.
  7. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2013
    That's awesome to hear! I've always felt awkward about it because so many people seem horrified that I would feed my hens meat. My flock probably doesn't get meat more than once a week. Sometimes, I'll put a big brick of frozen game scraps in their run. They love that! And during the summer we have tiny fish down the irrigation ditches that get beached when the irrigation is closed. The girls have a blast with those too!

    I read all kinds of articles, trying to gain a broader view of things. I'd have to dig around again for the articles that say "no meat". Then again I've read articles on rabbit keeping that say you should NEVER feed rabbits fresh vegetables or grass, and that they're monogamous and should be kept strictly in pairs. There are some really goofy opinions out there!

    The dogs are all 50+lbs. They've been taught their place- chickens have the right of way. I watched the girls steal a pork chop out of a Doberman's mouth once! It was hilarious!

    I agree. Vegetarian fed chickens just says "corn" to me.
    Half my flock are actually meat breeds and weigh over 10lbs a piece, but they lay duck-sized eggs that don't even fit in normal egg cartons- I love it! My girls lay such large, rich eggs with big bright orange flavorful yolks... I almost don't want to eat other people's chickens' eggs. Floppy little yellow yolks just ain't natural I tell ya!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  8. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2009
    I feed mine grass-fed ground beef, especially in the winter.

    But what feeds are available that have animal protein in them? I heard that due to the "mad cow" problem, animal proteins were removed from chicken feed.

  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    My girls get cooked ground turkey once or twice a week. I am sure too much meat is not good for chickens, although if left to their own devices out free ranging, I am sure they would eat a lot more meaty things then I allow them to eat. It really helps with molting and gives them a good boost with the protein. Before I started this program of once or twice a week meat feeding, and my girls cannot free range due to the high count of predators lurking around here, my girls went NUTS for mealworms. I just assumed they really loved them. But since the meat feeding program, they really don't go ga ga for mealworms anymore and some even turn up their beaks at them. So I take it, the meat is really fulfilling the need for good, complete protein.
  10. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    Animal proteins are superior to plant proteins, mainly due to digestibility. Trial after trial performed since diets have been examined showed that birds in confinement for egg production did best on a diet where 10% of the diet was animal protein. Any doubts, one can take it from poultry science pioneers like Morley Jull and G.F. Heuser and contend with their extensive research. Trials have been done with fish, milk, terrestrial meat meals. Birds on range found that the amounts could be reduced.

    You will hardly see feed mills using animal proteins in layer formulas anymore, and if you do, it is usually fish meal. If fish meal, like other proteins are not stored properly, the incidence of enteritis can cause many problems in the flock. Just like I tell new people, store your feed properly, and when you feed freeze dried meat meals and dried milk. both are practical and less likely to get rancid when feed isn't consumed immediately. Fresh meat is alright to offer so long as it isn't left in troughs to get rancid. Obviously, one shouldn't feed packaged meats loaded with sodium or other ingredients that compromise the health of the flock.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by