Chickens Are Not Vegetarian

They love insects, worms, caterpillars, maggots, larvae, meat if they can get it. They do need animal protein for a balanced and healthy diet – which means also chicken and eggs healthy to eat – and delicious.

If anybody ever doubted that chickens are not vegetarians, they should have been here a few mornings ago, when I broke through the frozen top layer of the small compost pile housed in the current chicken area. It has been so cold that the compost pile surface has frozen. The very heart of it was warm enough though… Of course, as always curious, they follow me to see what I am up to. Plus I had the fork, and they know it’s the tool I use to lift rocks or dig out perennial weeds (all of which bring up all kind of good food to the surface).

So, as soon as I started to turn the pile, the race was on! Get that worm, girl! and that one! here! another! quick!

Vigorous scratching that sends clumps 4 feet away, heated conversation (yes chicken do converse), diligent industrious pecking, excited chatting and calls about a tempting juicy plump cache of worms… that’s what happens. And worms and other bugs just get gobbled up, fast and methodically. I love watching the chicken being chicken and expressing their joie de vivre through being able to do what chicken evolved to do.

Bugs the hell out of me when I see “vegetarian feed only” on boxes of supermarket eggs.


8 thoughts on “Chickens Are Not Vegetarian”

  • What a handsome fellow up front. Isn’t it great listening to him when he finds something for his girls?

    Yeah I remember being quite shocked when my first batch of free-ranging chickens found a vole’s nest…eww! The carnage! But they were mighty happy birds.

  • Whenever I am digging a new garden spot I always let the chickens in to help/hinder me…they do go crazy over the worms. No, chickens are definitely not vegetarians.

  • I used to have chickens too…I loved them a lot! Good bug-patrol…and strawberry eaters! 🙂
    It was quite the sight seeing them rip into an unlucky toad that happened to wander into their run area!

    Thanks for the post!

  • Julia – yes, “funny”, but really quite sad.

    El – Mr. Rooster is the chick that did not look like the other chick when we got them last year. At the time you guessed that it may have been a barred rock chick. I have no idea what breed he is, but yes, he is very handsome. And sings beautifully.

    Mike – this year I have enrolled chicken power. I want them to kill the sod in one area for some summer crops. They are doing a good job!

    Seth – hope you’ll be able to have chicken again.

  • Excellent post, aren’t chickens the most ferocious foragers. People who don’t have chickens can’t see how they are constantly on the hunt for food. Sometimes it seems to me people look for money the same way, with much less success. Peace

  • You know, a couple of years ago I was shocked when I was moving some rocks and a tiny frog (about 2-3 inches long) hopped out and the chickens chased him down and ate him.

  • Reminds me of my ducks that used to come running whenever they would hear the lawnmower crank up. They would follow in my wake, like so many combines working a wheat field, snapping up whatever grasshoppers, crickets, and other bugs that I would flush. Katydids were their favorites.

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