So, you think chickens should be vegetarians?

I’m back after a brief Christmas hiatus. It’s not so much that I didn’t have the time to write (I didn’t). It’s that, with The Stepdaughters off from school, I can’t get within a country mile of the computer.

I’ll be making up for lost time soon, though; it’s not that there’s been nothing going on, just that it hasn’t made it to digital print yet. Not all of it is chicken related, but it’s all funny. To me. Stay tuned.

Christmas came two days late for Heedley’s Hens this morning; The Man got around to cleaning off what remained of the Christmas turkey (which is to say, about 18 pounds of the original 21). I’m not a meat eater, as you may know, and The Man, for all his extensive culinary expertise, is not a soup maker. I saw the considerable remains on the kitchen counter, pointed, and asked “I can haz carcass?”

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but chickens are NOT vegetarians, not remotely. They are the closest living relatives to dinosaurs, and not the gentle, plant-eating ones, either. They are raptors. And I am not the kind of vegetarian who expects my animals to toe the party line.

My chickens are fed organic, vegetarian feed, but that’s because it’s what’s available. I feed them animal protein whenever it’s going begging, including their own eggs. That said, The Man and I are squeamish about giving them chicken. We can’t quite get past the conviction that there is an immutable moral wrong in there, somehow.

It’s a fine line between chicken and turkey, I’ll grant you, but I have my father’s aversion to waste, and The Man is not the most thorough of carvers; there was a lot of meat left on that bird, and I wanted that poor tom’s sacrifice to count for as much as it could.

So, I brought the girls their first carcass this morning, into the barn on a plastic bag, as we have our first real snow of the season, and they are disinclined to leave the familiarity of the barn. The sky is falling, after all.

They were definitely alarmed by the size of the offering, and it was not the immediate feather-flying frenzy I had anticipated (and, let’s be honest, hoped for). They’re accustomed to neatly-portioned, pre-cut goodies, the little princesses. It was 1.0 who led the charge. Only a few of the girls were brave enough to take meat from the carcass itself, but they were all prepared to steal from each other once the meat was off the bones.

I did get some video of the carnage, which you can see here, on Heedley’s Hens Facebook page. The two Barred Rocks at the center of the melée are Coraline and Abby. One can distinguish the two by their combs: Abby’s folds over to her left (she’s at right), and Coraline’s fold over to her right (she’s at left). In this video, you can get a pretty good sampling of Coraline’s delightful, innocent “boop boop boop?” call, unique to her in our flock, and completely deceptive; Coraline is our Head Beyotch. Alexia is in there, and Hermione is chowing down at far left.

They’re nervous about it, though, and something spooked Abby into flight near the end of the video, causing a chain reaction of panic. I’ll be watching the carcass throughout the day to see how thorough they are.


10 thoughts on “So, you think chickens should be vegetarians?

  1. LOL

    Mine are not fearful of meat at all. It’s terrifying to be honest. One is destined to lose a finger if you’re not quick enough.

    This year it was not a full carcass unfortunately. We had bones and bits and pieces, and everything was picked clean within a few hours.

    I think hens with roosters are a lot less fearful. The rooster leads the way and tells them it’s alright. Come on – put your rooster pants on and do the tidbit call. HAH

  2. My flock loves hot, fresh meat – finely cut char-grilled steak is their absolute favorite. Descending order of meat love: any type of fork shredded beef roast, lean ground beef, followed by a moist fall-off-the-bone pork roast. I have not fed them chicken or turkey…can’t quite bring myself to do it — Soylent Green and all that nonsense.. Nor will they eat any form of cooked eggs. At least we are offering! Dried Mealworm is a protein staple!

    • Yes! That’s it! The Soylent Green Factor. Can’t you just see a chicken running through the streets yelling “Soylent Green is made of chicken!!!!”?

      Yours won’t eat eggs?! That’s amazing. Mine will cut a bitch for scrambled eggs.

      • Mine like for me to cut up a whole watermelon in half and just put one half down to peck at it. I did this today. In the summer, I freeze the halves first and it’s like a sorbet for them. Keeps them comfortable on really hot and humid days!

      • That’s a great idea! I’ve frozen spinach or collards for mine, but the watermelon would help with hydration, too. Can’t wait until I need that idea, because I am NOT a winter girl…

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