Oh, the horror!

On the hunt
Okay, a bit too late for Halloween, but YUCK I was reminded again yesterday how Chickens Are Omnivores. Yep. Just like people! They’ll eat anything they can get their beaks on.

Our girls are free-range, and because I usually have something better to do than chase them around all day, I am not particularly on top of their habits, gustatory or otherwise. But yesterday I was doing Round Two of bulb planting, so I was nose-to-beak with the girls for a good part of the day. Since they were small, they have realized that if I have a digging tool and my kneepad, it is definitely chow time. All four take turns kind of “helping” me liberate the worms when I dig up the earth. Okay, no big deal. There’re plenty of worms and other earth critters around.

This summer, however, I had noticed the chickens had a particular affinity for the fishpond. Was it the water? The deep cover? No, it was the FROGS. Once one particular amphibian was stupid enough to just sit there while they came by, it was lunch. After that, it was carte blanche, until those frogs got wise and would dive in at a sparrow flying overhead.

Okay. Back to yesterday. I was planting what I thought was the last of the crocus (there seemed to always be another bag) in the herb garden by the kitchen door, and I heard a rather pathetic squeaking. Ah, what do they have NOW? I looked over and Beatrice (Bloody Beatrice) had a vole. A VOLE! I mean, those things are BIG! Bigger than mice, smaller than chipmunks, but BIG.

So if you ever see eggs at the grocery store that say “vegetarian-fed hens,” realize that those are some sad chickens that, left to their own devices, would happily find and devour anything smaller than they are. Vegetarian? There’s no choice there: they’re spending their lives in cages indoors.

8 responses to “Oh, the horror!

  1. I am in total envy right now….I would love to have chickens! It’s a dream of mine to have our own chickens someday. I don’t know how my neighbors would respond to that… although, I saw at the MI State Fair that there were actually a few chickens from Harper Woods, so I guess it isn’t illegal here. Someday…..

  2. our girls are free rangers part time and yes, they love eating all sorts of living beasties. See them tuck inot a potato bug makes me queasy though, how can you eat somehtign still moving?

  3. 2 years ago, the Christmas after we moved here we had a rat move in from the next door stables under our shed.
    It was snowing and the obviously cold and hungry rat (who looked very like a disney rat) would run in daylight from the shed to the area where there was bird food and chicken scraps.
    Once the chickens spotted him they ambushed, pecking lumps out of him and sending him hopping back to his lair.
    However cute as he may have looked he was a rat and not long for the world.
    Our chickens regularly eat mice that they find in their run. Gruesome birds!

  4. Cute story.
    I would love to have chickens in my yard.

  5. Hmmmmm….not sure how I would react if I saw my sweet little chickens eat a mouse or frog. But it would explain why I’m not seeing evidence of mice anymore in the chicken house. They didn’t pack up and move on….they were eaten.

  6. As Joel Salatin says you need to let a chicken BE a chicken. Good for you!

  7. I’ve totally wondered about that “vegetarian” posting on the egg cartons, too. Our chickens LOVE voles, but usually the tasty (?) morsels are, ah, prepared for them by our cats. The hens love to play keep-away with the remains. I’ve never seen the hens actually kill anything bigger than a bug or worm, though. A definite revelation for me, this meat eating, but it makes sense, eh? They need their protien to make more eggs!

  8. farmer, vet and feeder of all animals

    Our chickens used to chase down the cat and steal his “take” of the day.
    He got to the point were he would yowl and run as fast as he could. He wasn’t always successful since they would catch him unaware some times trying to consume his meal.

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