Many people want to establish a functioning chicken coop for the purpose of obtaining a daily supply of edible eggs. First and foremost, let me just say that this is an absolutely terrific idea! A chicken coop is one of the best assets anyone can have hands down. A successful chicken coop project will create a safe and happy home for the chickens. It will be a wonderful experience for the owner is interacting with and getting to know the animals, and it is a beautiful thing for children to grow up around.
If you are someone who is a vegetarian, wants to become one, wants to survive on less meat, or hopes to achieve a “cruelty-free” diet- then a chicken coop is possibly the best thing you could ever have. If you have enough chickens, you will be able to count on them to produce enough food to sustain a small family more or less interminably.
Many vegetarian and “cruelty-free” eaters are attracted to the idea of having one because they think of eating eggs as a kind of “free ride.” While this is sort of true in a “moral” sense because you don’t have to kill anything in order to enjoy eggs, it is certainly not true when it comes to working. Building a quality coop and maintaining it is a very demanding job.
To begin, you have to build a safe, comfortable, and accommodating enclosure for your chickens. You will either have to accept the fact that predators will be attracted to the coop or strive to protect them. There is simply no way around that unless you’re building your coop in the middle of an urban center- which frankly I cannot see how that could ever work. You’re bound to get ticketed or vandalized. Most likely, the city will simply condemn your coop since city leaders tend to believe they own the inhabitants of their city.
At any rate, you will need to commit to building a coop that can withstand attacks by coyotes, raccoons, wild cats, and even your neighbor’s dogs. The fact is that EVERYTHING wants to eat chickens and their eggs.
Now, before you run out and start planning to build the Fort Knox of chicken coops, you also need to keep in mind that you are going to have to clean out the coop once in a while. That means you’ll need to be able to get in and out easily.
Ideally, you will probably want to have a coop where everything can be easily moved, disassembled, cleaned, and replaced. Your best bet might be to use a lot of corrugated metal sheets for the floors and the walls and to use removable benches with indents or holes where you can let your chickens nest and sit. The idea here is that you should be able to take out the benches and spray everything down with a hose.
Naturally, that means you’ll need a place for your chickens to go while you’re hosing down the coop. You may need to build a sort of aviary if you don’t want to let your chickens run loose while you wash down the coop.
Finally, other than breakfast, this part is the most fun. You’re going to have to think about how you are going to feed your chickens. “What’s so fun about feeding chicken’s?” you ask? Well, admittedly, it might take a special sort of person to feel this way.
But the fact is that chickens are among the most versatile eaters on the planet. Chickens can eat fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, plants, and bugs. Sometimes, if they are particularly hungry, they can even eat small mammals like mice. Chickens have even been known to occasionally kill and eat small garden snakes. It’s unusual and a particularly brutal sort of scene, but it has been observed.
Inevitably, you are going to end up buying grain or other products advertised as chicken feed. This will make up the majority of their diet. But you will discover rather quickly that your chickens will not eat only their chicken feed. They will also eat bugs, seeds, small rocks, and just about anything small and edible that they come across and fit down their necks.
A lot of people have specific questions about whether or not they can feed specific things to their chickens. I’ve come across a lot of these questions lately and am trying to answer as many of them as possible. I recently completed a post about feeding cherries to chickens.
The good news is that when it comes to fruit, you can feed just about anything to your chickens. So the point of these posts is to answer a specific question in a way that will cover a number of similar questions. Otherwise, you’re going to end up seeing an endless number of posts answering questions like, “Can chicken eat (insert strange food here)?”
Just to head you jokers out there off at the pass, no, chickens cannot eat pizza.
But one person asked whether chickens can eat cantaloupe. This is a good question because it will cover a number of similar fruits that you may consider feeding to your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Cantaloupe?
For those of you who scrolled down to the emboldened title for the answer to this question, Yes, chickens can eat cantaloupe. In fact, they love it. It is completely safe for them to eat, and it is extremely nutritious.
In fact, cantaloupe is one of the most nutritionally dense fruits in the world. It is juicy, delicious, and is an excellent source of both vitamins A and C.
Per cup, cantaloupe contains roughly 14.5 grams of carbohydrates (the healthy kind), 1.5 grams of protein, .3 grams of healthy fat, and about 1.5 grams of dietary fiber. In total, one cup of cantaloupe contains about 60 calories. Cantaloupe is about 90% water by volume, which means it’s a great way to help yourself, your family, and your chickens to fend off dehydration during the summer months. Best of all, it’s delicious.
When it comes to feeding cantaloupe to your chickens, the news gets even better. This is due to the fact that if your cantaloupe is beginning to turn unpleasant, your chickens will still love to eat it.
That does not mean that you should feed rotten or moldy cantaloupe to them. But if it’s beginning to become discolored, or if you just have balled too much for present company, you can avoid wasting it by simply giving it to your chickens, who will be more than happy to dispose of it for you.
Better still, you don’t really even have to worry about making it into small pieces for them. Your chickens will peck the cantaloupe to pieces before they even attempt to swallow it. This could result in mild amusement from chickens with lots of cantaloupe juice and pulp on their faces. But don’t worry, they will be just fine.
Better still, the work that your chickens will have to put in to process the cantaloupe in order to eat it is a great exercise for them. As mentioned in a previous post, chickens are happiest when they are allowed to forage for their food. Like any other animal, it is good for them to let them do whatever comes naturally to them in obtaining food. Cats and dogs want to hunt. Cows want to graze, and chickens want to forage and peck for their food.
This is not meant to suggest that you should just roll a whole cantaloupe into the yard and expect your chickens to make do with it. You should at least slice the melon in twain before giving it to them.
In fact, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well they will take to being given half a cantaloupe. They will peck at the seed-filled center and make an entire afternoon out of pecking at the meat of the melon. If you have enough chickens, they will take turns (roughly speaking) and hollow out that cantaloupe slice before you know it.
The amount of work they will have to do in order to finish off their cantaloupe is going to be a great exercise for them. As mentioned previously, chickens enjoy pecking, clawing, and bashing food items. It is one of the most rigorous activities that chickens will voluntarily engage in, and as such, it is very good for them.
In fact, you could think of giving your chickens cantaloupe as a complete chicken fitness routine. The physical exertion combined with the sublime nutrition that cantaloupes provide will keep your chickens healthy and strong for a chicken lifetime.
So don’t worry about making it into tiny pieces. Just expose the center and let them go at it. If you want to give them sliced up bites, that’s fine too. But they really want the seeds in the center.
One word of warning before parting: don’t give them cantaloupe that comes from the store already sliced up. Those packages are going to be full of pesticides and preservatives, which will make your chickens sick. Only give them pure cantaloupe that you have sliced up yourself. It is one of the few foods we have access to in this day and age, which will be almost completely free of human tampering!
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