> Wish I could send you some of this nice weather. It is a balmy 75
>degrees here today.
> I can't disagree with your position at all. Chicken (and other
>products are cheap enough to make not worth your time to grow your own.
>But some of those products are so contaminated, not only with herbicides
>and pesticides, but with fecal matter and other contaminants gained in
>the processing that in the long run it almost makes it (and sometimes
>does) worthwhile to spend that extra effort and money.
> I no longer raise chickens because my wife has an allergy to chicken
>feathers. So I had to stop raising my own. But the last time I checked,
>day old or three day old chicks were still available in the local feed
>store in the next town (9 miles away). And I can buy (at a higher cost)
>locally grown and processed chickens that are a bit safer than Tyson's or
>some of the others. And if I look in the right places, I might even be
>able to pick up a live one to pluck myself should I get the urge. So,
>yes it is still available here, but slowly dying out. And basically for
>the reasons you delineated. Too bad.
>--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
Well, Folks, I've tried to stay out of this one, but I can't STAND it any
longer. A chicken is more than just meat and if you raise it just for meat,
you aren't using even a low level of intelligence. In other words, you are
living by extensiion bulletins and ag school. Sad, sad.
Chickens do things while they are alive, if allowed to do so, like get all or
most of their own food (grain is handy when you want them to gather-'round)
converting stuff you can't or won't ingest to stuff that is yummy. Free
range chickens taste so much better than store chickens that they require
different words. Moreover, if you have lived for a while eating only chicken
that you slaughtered and cooked, more or less on the spot, the chicken in
stores tastes rotten. All of it. Chicken doesn't age well.
Chickens can be used to prepare land for planting by scratching to death the
ground cover. They can clean up shattered grain after a harvest. They eat
insects and can be managed to release into an orchard when troublesome
species are on the ground. They can be managed to move through a young grain
crop to clean up the grasshoppers (turkeys are even better). If you have a
winter where you live, a greenhouse attached to the chicken coop, ala
Mollison (though I did this before I heard of him), benefits from increased
CO2, air turbulence created by wing flapping, and body heat.
Chickens produce manure, preferably on range, but also some concentrated in
the coop to put under that special tomato plant. In the orchard, like geese
and ducks, they convert grass and other vegetation competing with your trees
to fertilizer so that the trees can get another shot at it. Each time the
tree gets a percentage of the grass, but the grass never gets a percentage of
the tree. You can regulate stocking densities to divert fertility one way or
t'other as suits you management goals. They consume grit to grind seeds
(including weed seeds) and in the process the grit grinds itself (in the
gizzard--that lump unknowing people throw out from their store bought
chicken). This releases fresh mineral, particularly if you are smart enough
to provide gravel of the sort that you want ground in little buckets in the
chicken coop. Then there are eggs.
When you raise your own chickens, you get the guts, feathers, and
miscelaneous parts which, in the worst case, are fertilizer and if you are
efficient can be stock feed, insulation (feathers not guts the many SANET
posters who seem to be city folk), etc.
If you are conscious of your environment, chickens are part of how you know
what is going on. Each sound they make means something--alarms, calls to
feed, all's well, etc. Watch you dog-s/he perks up at an alarm cackle but
not at the others. Are you going to be outdone by a dog? Listen.
Chickens are meat only at the end of a potentially very useful, economic, and
self-replicating life. Or they are raised in concentration camps at
phenomenal energy costs, insane feed conversion rates, and "waste" disposal
How in hell can you compare these systems, let alone say that the factory
chicken makes more sense. Is this really the sustainable agriculture or the
sustainable anything list? Git with it. Get a chicken or several.
I assume that it is clear that the same is true for every plant and animal on
one's homestead that one actively encourages from the wild and/or has
introduced for multiple purposes. Well, I didn't assume it, I guess, or I
wouldn't have to go into it. Why is it necessary to be hashing over this
very basic material on what should be a list of people knowledgeable in
sustainable agriculture? Maybe we should have a grow stuff/don't grow stuff
next to our names so people know which items to delete without reading. Does
your philosophy grow corn, or does it just get you a salary from a university?
Do you produce food or words or both?
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and The Forest Ecosystem
Food Network. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O. Box 2052, Ocala
FL 34478 USA YankeePerm@aol.com
We don't have time to rush.