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How about some edible bugs??

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Littlesmile View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 16 2021 at 2:47am

I was looking into keeping some chickens for eggs. Then of course I went down the path of other animals to keep. I came across insect farming (as you do) which I found absolutely fascinating. And found some place right on my doorstep (so to speak lol)


https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2021/0524/1223553-insect-based-food-bug-burger-insect-energy-bar/


Does anyone keep animals for food? What do you think is best to keep? Pros and cons? 

:-)


:-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 16 2021 at 4:34am





Theres a few folks on here that keep livestock, Technophobe, Kiwimum,are very  knowledgeable about such,as is Penham,

I'm not....lol......

I know nothing...!!!!!....lmao

Take care all 😷😉💉



Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.🖖

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 16 2021 at 11:41am

I live on a small farm and we produce practically all our own protein. We kill a cattle beast once a year for all things beef and i keep 4 chest freezers full most of the year. This year I'm producing more meat chickens. We've kept chickens for about 14 years now and we've always been happy to kill and eat them. I also keep geese, ducks, pigs (although we don't have any at the moment) and next year will keep some lambs. 

By far and away the easiest to keep are cows. I have a huge cattle beast on the hoof right now, and hopefully we'll have freed up enough freezer space by the autumn so I don't have to take him through the winter again. He's 3 and a half years old, completely grass fed and simply huge. Every year I add another beef cow to the herd and we let them grow slowly and naturally, no soy feed at all to speed them up. The result is lovely grass fed organic beef. Cows are totally trouble free to keep, so long as you don't overstock your land. All they need is grass and water. People go wrong when they run out of grass and end up buying feed in - that's a nightmare. 

The best bang for your buck, animal wise, is the humble chicken. They are amazing. They provide eggs and meat and are the only animal,, other than a lactating cow, to provide a daily harvest. I love chickens but you have to be ruthless. A chicken is only properly productive for 3 years and then you need to cull it, and that's where people come unstuck. I have a neighbour who has a flock of 9 year old chickens. She hasn't had an egg for years and spends a fortune on feed. My hubby has been to loads of friends' houses and dispatched their chickens for them because they can't do it themselves.

The set up for chickens can vary from a cage to complete free ranging. I disagree with the cage idea. Personally I think that any animal in your care should live it's best possible life and then be killed quickly and without fuss. So all our animals have fantastic environments but we can afford to do that since we have plenty of lush, fertile land, so we are very lucky in that respect. We never send an animal to an abattoir but kill them all on site. Honestly, they know nothing about it. Happily eating one second, dead the next. My hubby and I also love to butcher, and have all the right tools for that. Pigs are our speciality, and I make a mean sausage. Again getting set up for all this costs money but once  you have the tools, then you're good to go forever.

We killed a chicken last night. Our method is to chop their heads off. I'm about to trial a killing cone, which is a device like a funnel that is fixed to a fence post, you insert the chicken upside down, hold it's head with one hand, and slit it's throat with a sharp knife. The chicken bleeds to death. The problem with chopping off the head, is that once it's off, the bird flaps around for up to 2 minutes, showering you with blood. Btw, all animals, including humans, move after sudden death. It's the nervous energy of the muscles being used up. It's never shown in films, one shot and the body lies still, but all animals move, and the bigger then are, the more they move. We make a point of one of us always being present when the homekill man dispatches one of our larger animals because we want to make sure it's efficient and that no corners are cut, and you have to watch yourself that you aren't kicked by a dead cow or pig. 

So the killing cone will contain the death spasms of the chicken. I suspect it'll become our favoured method, as we generally kill 6 birds at a time, so we'll end up with 6 cones on 6 fence posts and it will speed it up considerably. I can pluck and gut a chicken in about 12 minutes, but I've had a lot of experience over the years. My first one took an hour and a half!

I have a pure bred breeding flock of 6 hens and one rooster and we eat those eggs and when required, those are the ones we put in our incubator. The resulting roosters we eat at about 6-7 months, and the hens we keep until about 2 years old so we get one year of supercharged egg production and then the following year we replace them with the new young hens, so it's a continuous cycle. I aim to kill for meat about 50-60 birds a year. It's impossible to calculate the flock for eating because there are always a few that need to be culled early for various reasons like the very young chicken yesterday who had dislocated his hip. 

I keep my flocks of birds in a large orchard with 6 ft high fences all round, and the orchard is then divided up into 7 very large areas with more fencing and in each area is a water supply and a lovely chicken house. All chickens in this country suffer from chicken mites which are endemic on wild birds like sparrows. The numbers build up in their houses and they are a bugger to try and eliminate without some pretty toxic chemicals so I have found the perfect solution. I move the chickens one night in December, and as I do I dust them with diatomaceous earth, and put them in a new house. The next day I clean out the old house and just leave it empty for 9 months before the next chickens go in there. It's an expensive set up with so many houses but it works a treat. A well fed mite is red from chicken blood, and a dying one goes transparent from lack of chicken blood. By the time more chickens go back in that house, almost 100% of mites have died. No toxic chemicals required. 

All in all, our set up gives those birds a great life. Lovely shady trees, loads of grass, sunshine, bugs. We house our cows inside for 2 months every winter because we farm on clay, and the daily muck out gets dumped in the orchards in piles and those piles are simply full of bugs and worms in a matter of days, so the chickens scratch and forage through that. The result is their eggs have yolks that are orange from the sun and the wild protein they eat. 

Just be aware that home produced free range chicken is nothing like the chicken in the shops. The shop chicken is from a variety called a Ross Cobb. Those huge chickens are killed at 5-8 weeks old!!!!!! By the time they are killed their legs can't support their body weight. The meat is white. Don't try and keep a Ross Cobb at home as the experience is soul destroying. They are bred to eat continuously and are horrible creatures to behold. 

A fully free range bird of an old fashioned variety of 7 months old has dark flesh that varies in colour depending on which part of the body it comes from. The meat is tougher. A 2 year old hen is the same. An older bird than that is really only good for long casseroling, and even then I can be very tough so good for broth only. I killed and ate a huge 3 year old rooster last year and he was virtually inedible. He spent so much time running around guarding his hens from hawks, that he was all muscle and sinew. But we still ate him. He was just very chewy. If you go for just a highly productive laying bird, she will have no meat on her at all, she'll just be an egg producing machine but you'll get about 320 eggs per bird per year. We keep larger dual purpose birds that produce both eggs and meat, they are slower growing but are an old fashioned breed and produce about 280 eggs each a year. 

My personal thoughts on chickens is that I'm going for quality over quantity. They are very characterful and so busy going about their business. It's lovely to take a cup of tea over to the orchard and just sit there and watch them. It's very relaxing. Just don't get attached to them and do not give them names. Every laying hen we have is called Mrs Chicken.

I also produce maggots from all the raw offcuts and entrails of the animals we kill, and I guess you could eat these, but I don't. I use them as additional chicken feed. Afterall they are completely free and just making use of the free resource of flies. Maggot production stinks so do it away from your house. Rotting meat always smells.


"Once you've decided that something's absolutely true, you've closed your mind on it, and a closed mind doesn't go anywhere. Question everything. That's what education's all about." ~ David Eddings
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Littlesmile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 17 2021 at 3:59am

Wow that is so much information Kiwimum! I came to this forum for information and help so others might too. This is goldmine, thank you. 


• We wouldn't have room for one cow never mind a herd (unfortunately) but maybe goats in the future.

• Chickens definitely sound like the best tho I didn't know only productive for 3 years. So that will need some thought.

• I really like the idea of 'farming' insects for other animals plus the castings/poop woul be great for soil.


I really appreciate the time you took for all the information. I will have to reread it again to take it in! Lol :-)



* We too believe in animals having the best possible life to live.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 17 2021 at 5:15am

We used to pull our chickens necks .....less bloody mess/flapping.....lol



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 17 2021 at 10:50am

Littlesmile, a chicken will still lay after 3 years but the eggs are more spaced out. Commercial egg producers don't even keep their hens until they are 3 years old, they cull them at 18  months, so in other words they only lay for one year. A chicken only starts laying (reaches point of lay - that's the technical term) at about 22 weeks of age. At 3 years old the number of egg a bird produces drops, and even a five year old chicken might lay you an egg once a month. The thing is, egg production requires the correct diet so you feed them "layers pellets" and these are expensive. Certainly keeping chickens at home is more expensive than buying in eggs, but we do it because we know that they are truly free range etc etc. 

If you can feed your birds bugs, then you don't need the layers pellets and the cost comes down. But if you keep your chickens in a permenant pen, like many people do, the grass quickly disappears and you have to give them greens everyday, because chickens love green food as well as creepy crawlies. 

And by the way, there's nothing stopping anyone from keeping chickens as pets and accepting that after a while they'll be no eggs. I know people who have names for their chickens, and they stroke them and love them and that's great. When they die at about 8 or 9 years of age, they mourn them. 

Just know one thing, and this is very important, you can't introduce a new chicken to an existing flock. They will attack it and may well kill it. You can introduce them but it's a lengthy process. I've done it and am about to do start it again this week as I had a chicken with a badly injured leg that was being attacked by it's flock mates. I put it in isolation and now, 2 weeks later, it's recovered, but the other chickens won't take it back, so I'll put it in with another flock but very carefully and it'll take 2 weeks to integrate it. But I can't leave it on it's own, they are flock animals. 


"Once you've decided that something's absolutely true, you've closed your mind on it, and a closed mind doesn't go anywhere. Question everything. That's what education's all about." ~ David Eddings
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 17 2021 at 10:51am

Chickens are fascinating and ruthless creatures. There are whole books on them.

"Once you've decided that something's absolutely true, you've closed your mind on it, and a closed mind doesn't go anywhere. Question everything. That's what education's all about." ~ David Eddings
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Littlesmile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 18 2021 at 3:00am

Lol really are fascinating! I wish I had of asked santa for a book now! :-)

And they absolutely sound ruthless!          I think I seen somewhere about chickens and dinosaurs. They sound like little velociraptors! Lol


Thanks again :-)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 18 2021 at 12:08pm

Originally posted by Littlesmile Littlesmile wrote:

Lol really are fascinating! I wish I had of asked santa for a book now! :-)

And they absolutely sound ruthless!          I think I seen somewhere about chickens and dinosaurs. They sound like little velociraptors! Lol


Thanks again :-)

Honestly they are like little dinosaurs. If they smell blood they will attack the bleeding chicken and constantly peck at the bloody bit, literally eating it, and end up killing the other bird. They are completely ruthless. They have personalities. Some are more friendly than others, some aggressive. I won't tolerate aggressive laying hens and they get one verbal warning to change their ways or they end up in a pie. 

I once rehomed a chicken from a friends house. She had inherited this bird with the house and it was a tiny grey bantam chicken that was super broody. It was very aggressive and when she went to collect eggs from her flock this little chicken would attack her because she wanted to sit on the eggs. My friend didn't keep a cockerel so all the eggs were infertile, so I took this angry chicken home and put her in one of our maternity units, which is a little house for one chicken with an 8ft run attached. I put this unit in the middle of section of orchard with our laying hens. And I made her a nest and gave her 6 fertile eggs and she was delighted. 

She sat tight on her nest for the required 21 days and only left it once a day to eat and drink. She hatched 6 little chicks and by this time the other hens were used to her and so I let her and her chicks out. She was a fierce mother. She would raise both wings and turn to face whatever she considered a threat and growl at them. We called her Mrs Ninja Chicken. She raised those chicks beautifully and taught them to forage, and to roost at night and at night times she would arrange them on the perch in the big house, with 3 either side of her and she would open her wings and place them over the chicks like duvets. She did this even when the chicks were bigger than her. She died that winter, literally she fell off her perch one night dead. She was about 9 years old when we got her, she fulfilled her life's desire to raise a family and she died with them at her side. It was sad but I was happy that she'd finally had the family she so desperately wanted. I'm sure she only lived so long because she was determined to have chicks of her own.

"Once you've decided that something's absolutely true, you've closed your mind on it, and a closed mind doesn't go anywhere. Question everything. That's what education's all about." ~ David Eddings
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Littlesmile Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 19 2021 at 2:33am

There was a horror film years ago called 'Birds' and I think they used crows. They should have used chickens! Haha 😄 


That's a lovely story about Mrs Ninji. She sounded like a very protective mother, like a mother bear. I have seen horses doing the same.. I guess you can't take the 'wildness' out of these creatures, no matter how long they have lived with humans :-)

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