I have never been a big believer in the adage that you are what you eat – and my chickens are really putting paid to any lingering leanings I had in that direction.
When I first got my chickens, I spent hours online researching what to feed chooks and what to avoid. There are all kinds of things out there that are toxic to chickens and I did worry. Then I had my girls for a while and I worried less. They generally avoided things I knew they should (tomato or potato leaves, Clivia plants) and seemed like sensible little creatures.
Well, Bronwyn did have a penchant for paper of any variety but we all have our quirks. I figured paper would digest and probably be okay fibre so I didn’t really care that much.
Then some styrofoam ended up in the garden (part of my beekeeping hobby) and all 3 girls went wild for it. They ate every small pellet they could get their beaks on (needless to say I swept up every small pellet I could find). I figured styrofoam would just pass right through the birds and, besides being empty calories, I didn’t think it would cause a lot of problems.
If only it stopped there.
Noooo, Bronwyn has discovered an even better treat which is something I know chickens shouldn’t have: rubber bands. On really hot days we string a sheet between 4 stakes over our leafy greens. We secure the sheet with rubber bands. One day Frank dropped one and didn’t worry too much. I suggested he might want to grab it before a chicken did. As he was guffawing at me and pointing out how stupid that would be, Bronwyn grabbed it. Frank gave chase. There were a few moments of high drama in the back garden before Frank caught the silly bird and pulled the rubber band out of her gullet. She’d managed to get 1/2 of it down before he was able to slip his little finger through the loop still hanging out of her mouth.
We were warned but we kept using rubber bands to secure the sheet and fretted a little when we’d lose one (high winds and hot sun would cause them to snap and/or fly off).
Then Frank found a couple in a bag of chook poo we used to make fertiliser. Obviously someone (Bronwyn!) was finding rubber bands in the garden, eating and passing them.
We are not confident that one of these rubber bands won’t get stuck in a craw so our garden is forever a rubber band free zone. The sheet is now and forevermore secured with clamps.
So how come Frank lost another rubber band in the garden? It had been in a bowl of twine and garden ties that he set within striking range of our chooks. He didn’t see any thieving but he did notice the bowl was missing a rubber band he was sure had been in there.
3 days later he showed me this. He had seen a small piece of what looked like a rubber band peeking out of some chook poo while doing a yard clean-up.
If you are what you eat, does that make Bronwyn flexible?