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04 September 2011

Omnivorous Chooks

Green Jungle Fowl
When I posted on my blog recently about my chickens going nuts over canned sardines, my friend DivaJyoti commented that she hadn't known chickens would eat fish.

Chickens actually prefer to follow an omnivorous diet. The chickens we know today, that scratch around in barnyards or (sadly) rot away in battery farms, for shame! tend to be fed on a grain based diet, more because it is convenient for us. The domestic hen, gallus domesticus is actually descended from the Jungle Fowl:

  • Gallus gallus
  • Gallus lafayetii
  • Gallus sonneratii
  • Gallus varius (pictured)

Jungle Fowl originate from India, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, and Indonesia. In their wild state, jungle fowl eat a varying diet consisting of fruits, grains, vegetation, small rodents, lizards, bugs, slugs and insects. When allowed to 'free range' our domestic chickens will do much the same. I've heard of domestic fowl eating mice, lizards, beetles, worms, caterpillars snails and slugs. In fact, a flock of chickens let loose in a matured vegetable garden will nibble little bits of the veges, but will also keep the garden almost completely pest free. They particularly favour the larvae of coddling moth! Yesterday, I gave my chooks 100g of kangaroo mince.
Someone mentioned on a poultry forum I frequent, that feeding kangaroo meat to chooks is an extreme sport. After trying this myself, I'd have to concur. :lol: There was none of that hesitant peering at it before taking a small peck to taste it that you normally see when offering a new type of food. Rosie tried to rip the meat out of my hand before I even got the wrapper off it! 

Then it was on for young and old as my gentle, 'boking', scratching hens turned into miniature velociraptors, jumping up, flapping at me, trying to snatch beakfuls of meat out of my fingers (they rarely eat from my hand) and chasing each other all over the chook pen trying to snitch pieces out of each other's mouths. All the while, they were making that special high pitched muuuur-uurrrrrr! sound that chooks reserve for only the best and tastiest morsels.

I think they like it! laughing
Images via wikepedia

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