Is “Re-Eating” Taking Recycling Too Far?

Five Spot, my older dog, plopped down heavily, watching while we worked with the poultry. 

Farm Dog sat attentively by. 

Cuteness!  Baby chicks, turkeys, and goslings all yellow and fuzzy.  “Peep, peep”. 

Happy young chick. these are red broilers - a meat breed.

Happy young chick. these are red broilers – a meat breed.



You know its springtime.

Our family has taken to raising a flock of meat chickens each year.  Its about a four or five month process (depending on how long we procrastinate with the butchering).  We start out with 100 chicks expecting to lose some and to give away more.  After it is all said and done, we end up with a chicken in the pot at least once a week for the entire year. 

Right now, our freezer is getting low as the new babies are getting bigger. 

I feel we have to do this.  Animals raised in the commercial systems live absolutely horrible lives and I refuse to participate in that kind of torture.  The misery of their relentless day to day horror must be in the cells of the meat and I don’t want to eat sadness incarnate. 

Why not just buy good quality meat you might ask? 

Sometimes cleanly raised chickens are available in our area… 

 

But you lose so much when you buy other peoples chickens. 

What do you lose?  You lose a lot.  By producing your own food – you get so much more out of it than quality food.

Let me explain.

First of all, our system for growing our own chicken meat is not truly sustainable.  We buy what seems like an amazing amount of feed and the freezer uses electricity. 

 

best oats and field of oats for chickens to eat feed

We grow some grain the young chickens will eat when they free range

We do grow some of the grain for the chickens and I’ll write about that soon. 

 

baby chicks eating around feeder in tractor

Young chicks at the feeder

But with the schedule of a modern life, this is something we can do.  And the feed we buy is not just used once, as you’ll see. 

In the beginning, we get the baby chicks and some of the chicks just die – they are fragile little creatures and the journey from the hatchery, through the mail system, and then to our farm is a long one.  Losing some is just a part of the process.   

Five Spot and Farm Dog never bother the live chicks, but they do watch alertly and are always close – ready to see if any of the babies need to be discarded.  The dogs will swallow one of these little casualties whole and stare at you like nothing just happened. 

For the first few weeks the chicks live in a protected stock tank and each day I add fresh bedding on top of yesterdays soiled material and by the time they are moved out to bigger moveable pens I’ve got a very nice, rich, compost heap.

For the next few weeks we put the chicks into a movable pen that we move each day around the lawn area near the barn  The grass there grows thick and lush with the fertilizer provided by the chicks.  And the chicks love catching tiny insects we didn’t even know where there – I am wondering if they are fleas? 

A moveable chicken coop

A moveable chicken coop

 

There will certainly be no ticks that survive the passage of the chickens. 

But regardless, each time the pen is moved there is left behind a layer of mess.  Some of it is feed the chickens were sloppy with, and of course a lot of it is poop.

Five Spot and Farm Dog sit patiently by. 

farm dog protecting geese

Farm Dog protecting a flock of geese

After we have moved the pens the dogs come by the recently vacated area and eat the biggest chunks of glop left on the ground. 

Yuck!  Serious yuck. 

Long ago we trained our dogs not to lick us and seeing this affirms that decision. 

We also don’t get all kissy kissy with the dogs for obvious reasons. 

The dogs are quite sure this is their right and it tastes delicious to them. 

This is not something we could stop if we wanted to.  

I was pretty grossed out by this initially, buy my husband pointed out that this is is simply the next level of the reduce, reuse, and recycle process; re-eating. 

The dogs will end up getting much more out of this.  In the butchering process they will get the heads and intestines. 

 

five spot lounging by tire swing

Five Spot keeps alert

And after cooking the birds, the bones will be simmered down to broth, and the dogs get those remains too. 

We also save the prettiest feathers and compost the rest. 

So do you see all the things you are missing when you buy organic chicken you didn’t grow yourself?  The compost, the fertility, the bug clean up, the beautiful lawn, the delicious meat, the feathers, the clean nutritious organ meats, the bone broths, and two fat dogs. 

The dogs know they are vital to the whole operation.  They protect the chickens through the entire process.  Yes, we may lose a few when the birds are ‘teenagers’ and ranging in the bigger areas defined by the moveable fences.  But it is pretty rare. 

It is also rare that I buy dog food. 

If you want to see more about how I feed the dogs, how I use them to protect both crops and animals, and how I grow food with my family – get a copy of the video set “Grow Your Own Groceries” available here http://www.GrowYourOwnGroceries.com  

Plus you’ll get to meet Farm Dog and Five Spot – who have gained weight since the filming. 

Marjory

PS:  Oh I forgot to mention, in the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set is also a bit about how I trained my dogs.  I never had dogs before these two, so I am not a “professional”.  But what I’ve done works, and that is a testimonial enough.  Pick up a copy of the video set here http://www.GrowYourOwnGroceries.com

 

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Marjory Wildcraft


Contributor

Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of "homegrown food on every table." Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her "Grow Your Own Groceries" video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.


6 Comments
  • Re-eating is what dogs do with good poultry droppings. Do you think they would eat the droppings from chickens fed anti-biotics? I think besides the energy, there are microbes they seek for their gut.

    Ever notice how a puppy chews on just about anything, including smelly shells from road killed armadillo’s?

    My old (ancient) dog Smoke, suffered a severe cut under his chin that I should have stitched but didn’t. It got very infected and disgusting. Then one day I noticed him pawing the ground in a certain spot, then rubbing his infection into the dirt. A few days later he was doing better. In few weeks he was healed.

    Microbes take care of us, if we let them ;~)
    <<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I know and appreciate your focus is on food and social aspects, and you do a great job BTW!

    My focus is on energy. Biomass gasification in particular.

    The tech aspects are now at least 20 years ahead of social acceptance.

    In a 1993 DOE commissioned report, Larry Dobson fundamentalform.com reported that “Various authorities predict that biomass energy from our forest, agricultural, industrial and municipal waste streams can replace from 10% to 90% of our current energy needs. Even in urban areas the biomass produced from land clearing, tree trimming and demolition alone can provide much of the residential heating requirements of the area, rather than disposing of it in ever more costly dumps. According to a 1989 U.S. Department of Energy study, solar and biofuels account for 87.8% of the economically accessible fuels of the future.”

    When I combined recent UN-FAO and US-DOE data, the estimate is that approximately 5 times the energy all humanity on all the earth consumes is created through photosynthesis each year. All we have to do is bump that number up to six times, through reduced energy use — and increased biomass growth, and we all have free energy ;~)

    This “great change” is not going to come from the top down. The change will happen from the bottom up.

  • Stella Bell

    NO IN FARMING YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO RECYCLE TO BE SUBSTAINABLE.
    The real question is could you actually feed that many animals on just what you could grow on your land then process them and not use refrigeration?
    When we eat one of our chickens, what is left of the raw carcass goes to the dogs. Our dogs eat manures all the time because there are nutrients in it.
    We make use of everything we grow, be it veggie or animals. Chickens are assets for eating things like composting materials.
    Thanks Stella

  • I’m curious. You say that you have chicks delivered… is it not possible for your grown chickens to lay eggs and hatch chicks so you can just keep the cycle going? A co-worker raises chickens for eggs and doesn’t eat the chickens when they can’t lay eggs anymore. Are there different kinds of chickens?

  • Profile photo of James Judd

    Instead of freezing your chicken, why not just can it? Also I thought chicken bones were bad for dogs because they splinter?

  • Sarah

    A veterinarian told me dogs get B vitamins which were manufactured in the gut when they eat manure.

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