A few months ago we started to have a problem. My rooster started pecking and eating the feathers off the hens. I've known roosters to be obnoxious and pull feathers off hens before...but not eat them!
Then after looking at him a little closer we realized that his beak was purple. I didn't remember it being that color before, and since he's a mostly white bird I didn't think it was normal.
So I started researching and asking questions about what might be going on with him. And I discovered that the purple beak and feather eating is caused by a lack of protein in the chickens diets. Apparently their feather are full of protein so when it's lacking in their regular diet, they will eat each other's feathers.
But then I had to figure out what to do about this. My chickens were starting to look no so pretty. As I looked i discovered something odd. But I decided to try it.
Remember the old nursery rhym about Little Miss Muffet? Well it turns out that her curds and whey, is very nutricious! Today, it's not called curds and whey, we call it Clabber. Clabber is a thick yogurt like substance that's the by-product of letting unpasturized milk ferment. Sounds kind of yucky doesn't it?
Clabber provides both calcium and protein, and good bacteria to the chickens. What you do is take unpasteurized milk, let it sit in an undisturbed place for a few days(not in the refrigerator). Cover it loosely. After a few days it will start to look like the stuff in the picture above. After about another day the whey(the yellow part) will separate the rest of the way from the white part(the clabber) At this point you can feed it to your chickens. And yes, you can feed them both the whey and the clabber, the whey has the most protein and the clabber has the most calcium.
I know this all sounds a little odd, it did to me at first! But I fed it to my chickens and they just loved it! Plus they aren't eating feathers anymore and their beaks are starting to look better. You can also soak the grains that you normally feed your chickens in the clabber mixture and feed them that way also.
Our chickens are free range but we still feed them grains. We have really been able to cut down on the costs of chicken feed by feeding them clabber and letting them be free range. Plus they look better and are healthier because of it!
Plus, not only do we have all the benefits that I listed above, supposedly, feeding your chickens clabber will make their meat soft and more flavorful. And it possibly will make them better layers.
I know that not everyone has access to raw milk, but for those that do, this is a great way to use up extra milk, spend less on chicken feed, and have healthy chickens!
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