Grass-eating Chickens

Sharon Note: You can tell I’m a city-girl because I consider the following article to be an epiphany – Chickens Eat Grass. Here’s one of the best How-To-Raise-Your-Own-Chickens manual I’ve seen including eye-opening information that chickens need and eat grass. We’ve been considering the idea, on and off, of raising our own chickens for the eggs. I’m afraid it would take me a good number of additional years to get used to the idea of butchering egg-layers for meat. My farming friends assure me I’ll run into one or two I won’t mind doing away with. Another issue holding me back is the commitment – not a word I usually shy away from, given the fact I have 8 parrots that will more than likely outlive me, but they don’t require me to go outside, when it is freezing cold, chopping frozen water and cleaning up frozen droppings in sub-zero windchills like we’re experiencing this weekend. It just may take a more temperate climate for me to make the leap into acquiring my own chickens. Of late, it’s more than the extra workload that holds me back – it’s the responsibility for a few more lives, something driven home to me a few weeks ago when a friend called to tell me a weasel broke into her chicken coop, savagely ripping apart all 20 birds for no other reason than the joy of killing. My poor friend opened the door only to find only body parts remaining of her beloved prolific egg-layers. That’s an experience I can do without, so for now, I’ll just continue to read.

Grass-Eating Chickens

Professional chefs and professional butchers who live in large cities, have told me that chickens cannot possibly eat grass. Farmers in the country, who raise chickens naturally, have a hearty good laugh on this one! One of them even went out and butchered one of his pastured chickens and emailed me a picture of its gizzard ~~~ full of grass.

Chickens will consume 30% of their calories from grass, if allowed to truly “free range.” Since grass is very low in calories, that’s a whole LOT of grass! Another thing chickens need is animal protein. Chickens are omnivores, just like the humans they’ve kept company with for all these millennia.

The new “all vegetarian” chicken is a convenience to the mass-producer, who thus doesn’t have to worry about the potential of latent animal diseases in poultry feed. Mass-producers of poultry are certainly leery of disease, which might bring about the destruction of their entire laying flock.

But, strictly vegetarian-fed chickens are potentially undernourished. An all-vegetarian diet is not natural for them ~ they need animal protein. The ideal is for a chicken to be free to roam grasslands that are not denuded by too many animals in one place, finding myriad bugs and eating lots of wild plants. If supplemented with grains, and especially with fish meal, these chickens will be the healthiest around, and live and lay eggs for many, many years.

Chickens that are free to consume as much living grass as they want , along with the myriad other living things in a natural grassland or meadow, give significant health benefits to the consumer today, just as this poultry diet has done for the thousands of years of domestication of the chicken. Meat and eggs from grass-fed poultry, which is very low in fat, have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs from “pastured” (another form of “grass-fed”) poultry, high in omega-3 fatty acids, will lower one’s “bad cholesterol” and raise the “good cholesterol.” More and more consensus is emerging that grass-fed or pastured poultry eggs are good for the heart, and that not only should they not be avoided, they should be specifically included in the diet.

There are two main kinds of fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. We need approximately equal amounts of the o-3’s and the o-6’s in our bodies. But, because of not allowing our feed animals to eat grass (even cows don’t eat much grass any more ~ they eat mostly corn), we are getting huge proportions of omega-6 fatty acids, and very little omega-3.

When we get top-heavy on omega-6, our “bad cholesterol” rises, and our “good cholesterol” stays low. When we get goodly amounts of omega-3’s as opposed to omega-6’s, the good cholesterol rises and the bad cholesterol drops.

Bad cholesterol, which is found in big droplets, goes through the blood stream and plugs up the arteries, making for quadruple bypasses and deadly heart attacks. Good cholesterol goes through the blood stream in very tiny droplets, coated with protein “bristles” whichact like millions of tiny brushes that scour out the arteries, opening up the clogged plumbing that is causing the mass epidemic of heart disease in “developed” countries. Strange to think that by eating beef and drinking whole milk, 100% grass-fed beef and milk, you can go far toward reversing your heart disease and restoring heart health.

Also effective heart-health builders are all forms of wild (not farmed) seafood. Why not farmed? Because farmed fish are fed corn, which is, for the first time in the history of the world, putting omega-6 fatty acids into the ocean’s food chains, where they’ve never been before. Pretty soon, farmed fish might be causing heart disease, just as corn-fed beef has done all these decades of our “advanced” farming methods.

You see, omega-3’s come from the fat in the green parts of plants, while omega-6’s come from the seeds of plants. The entire food chain of the ocean is based on plankton, which is the “grasss” of the sea. Plankton has no seeds, so there have not been any omega-6 fatty acids in ocean fish. At least, not until we started adding corn to the farmed fish diet. We have always known that people who raise cattle in the traditional manner, 100% grass-fed, have great heart health, and have the cleanest of arteries. The amount of omega-3 in green plants is very small; the cattle and other ruminants, which eat huge quantities of grass, concentrate the omega-3 in their systems, imparting it to us when we consume the meat and milk.

Click to read more on Omega-3’s at Chicken-Feed –

Click to read more on Omega-3’s at –

Jo Robinson, author of the EatWild website, and the fabulous book, Why Grass-Fed Is Best!, describes one study where 23 people ate 2 more eggs than they usually did every day. The study only lasted 18 days. One group ate eggs enriched with Omega-3’s; the other ate regular commercial eggs. Among those who added the Omega-3 eggs to their diet, their good cholesterol went up, their bad cholesterol went down, and their total cholesterol count did not change. Not so for those who ate the ordinary commerical eggs; their cholesterol levels went up. Robinson’s report, I think, was kind to the commercial egg farmers ~ she did not say specifically that the bad cholesterol went up by adding 2 commercial eggs a day to one’s diet. She just says that the total cholesterol count went up. One must find and read the study for onesself to learn the whole truth of it, but it my guess is, the bad cholesterol went up ~ after all, we’ve known for years that “eggs raise cholesterol levels.” What we haven’t known until the last few years is that eggs, from properly-fed chickens, also lowers the cholesterol ~ the “bad cholesterol.”

Please, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to find out about grass-fed poultry and omega-3-rich eggs. We will put as much information up as we can possibly fit onto our Pastured Poultry Page —- please visit often. Above all, get a copy of Why Grass-Fed Is Best!
Introduction –
The basics of what chickens need to eat, and how you can easily give it to them

Feed Recipes –

Blend some or all of your own chicken feed, whether you’re a beginner hobbyist, or commercial grower. Recipes supplied to ChickenFeed by America’s leading, health-oriented, poultry nutritionists.

Protein Calculation –
Protein is discussed. How to prepare soybeans is described. A simple, well-known “calculator” for blending feed for correct protein amounts is given, along with a table of the protein content of several feeds.

Feeding Instructions –
Detailed instructions on feeding poultry, excerpted from a 1979 book, The Family Poultry Flock (Edited by Lee Schwanz, Farmer’s Digest, Inc.) These are standardized instructions in the commercial format, useful for getting started.

Feeding Baby Chicks –
Want to start from Day One, to raise the healthiest possible chicks? Here are chick-feed formulas from the farm kitchens of 1912.

Feed Producers –
This is an informational website only. But our Feed Producers may well be able to supply your needs. Please go to the Feed Producers page if you are looking to buy or sell Chicken Feed products. Alternatively, you may ask hundreds of professional chicken farmers anything under the sun if you join a chicken-oriented group in YahooGroups. The PasturePoultry and the ChickenFeed groups are especially helpful for feed information (note: copy these names exactly when searching at YahooGroups :-)
Feed Producers is a list (continually updated here at ChickenFeed) of producers of natural, “biological” and/or organic chicken feeds and feed supplements

Online Experts –
The cream of the crop, in ChickenFeed’s opinion. People who come through on questions about nutrition of poultry, sources of farm and poultry products, services and information, practical advice, and anything we haven’t thought of yet!

Pastured Poultry –
Move the flock across their food ~~~ open grassland ~~~ instead of bringing the food to them. Creates amazing health and quality, besides creating extremely fertile acreage wherever the “chicken tractor” is moved.

Farms Selling Eggs –
Farms around the country that sell REAL eggs, and other nutritous things. See pictures, phone them with questions, and best of all, if you find some in your State, visit and buy.

Worms for Feed –
Mix your garbage and leaves to make pounds of top-quality protein, as fresh as it gets, too. Farmers everywhere are saying,
“Why didn’t we start this long ago?”

Labels –
List of what’s in commercial feeds, according to the label

About Nutrition –
We all have a choice between getting by with mediocre health, or creating optimum health. This section is for those pursuing the optimum for themselves, their families and their farms.

Abstracts –
Research about poultry, from the US Department of Agriculture. Easy to search; tons of info

Feed Topics –
Everything about chicken feed and feeding chickens found in print: websites, newsgroups, hard-copy articles, even emails.

Posts –
Some well-written email posts to discussion groups on the topic of chickens and their feed

The Ideal Formula –

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