Species Appropriate

So, what did we get today? We got asked yesterday how we decide what to feed to who from all of the foraged and found food that we bring in.

We don’t actually make a big deal about it. We follow a few basic principles and then let the animals tell us what they prefer. With all of the different species that we have, the only things we end up composting are citrus peels and coffee grounds. Having an idea what the animals eat in the wild helps too.

The two principles are No Cannibalism and Ruminants Eat Plants. So we don’t feed pork to the pigs or chicken to the birds. We wouldn’t let George eat lamb-flavored dog food either, even though he kept trying.

With 5 dogs and well over 100 omnivorous birds, pork goes away just fine. The chickens really like chicken but we do our best to keep them from stealing it from the dogs.

Hummus for breakfast As far as the pigs, chickens and turkeys are concerned, that’s about all the care we take. We do deliberately give the birds potato salad and hummus, because otherwise we’d have to scrape the containers, which is no fun. The birds clean them right up for us. Potato salad is egg, oil (pressed from seeds) and potato. Hummus is chickpeas and oil. That is all stuff that wild turkeys and jungle fowl eat. The birds get first dibs on any seeds we get.

Buffy and her bagel The dogs get meat, and whatever else they want. They love yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and eggs. We feed them a lot of raw meat as well, plus keep the kibble dish full, too. Bagels that they manage to steal from the pigs are quite prized. We end up with a lot of ham salad sandwiches and containers of ham salad and they love those. Also, quiche is another favorite, even filled with broccoli.

Waterfowl love watermelon! The ducks and geese have favorite things, too, like grapes and watermelon. We drop whole watermelons from the balcony so it breaks up, and as soon as they hear the sliding glass door open, they come running. (It’s also really interesting how all of the different species learn what sounds mean what — the sheep know the goose word for watermelon and they’d like some, too.)

Squash! Pumpkins! Apples! Pigs can eat just about anything. A pig makes a teenage boy look like an anorexic. The only issues we’ve heard of are that large quantities of potatoes and eggs must be cooked. (That is also true for people, in both cases.) That said, they do not like anything in the cabbage family. Cabbage and broccoli will be left until they rot. I’ve been told they might eat it if I cooked it, but why bother. The sheep will scarf it right down. They’ll eat any other vegetable, in moderation, say a bushel a meal. Any more than that goes to the sheep. They get any grain product we get that doesn’t go to the birds. Actual grain needs to be soaked to soften it, or all too much of it will go straight through the pig. We try to keep their diet fairly balanced, at least over the course of a week or so. They’ll happily eat yogurt and hay every day, but we make sure to give them lots of fruits and veg to go with that.

Thanksgiving Feast The ruminants turn out to be the biggest problem. They love grain, but it will kill them in not very large quantities at all. And yet we need to have layer and hog pellets to feed the birds and pigs, so keeping them from getting into the grain is a high priority. The bacterial population in their rumens is surprisingly delicate. We pretty much limit them to roughage. They are allowed fruit in moderation, no more than an apple or two each. So far we’ve had no issues from things like green beans or zucchini, but they only get them when the pigs are overwhelmed. They love broccoli and celery, two things the pigs hate.

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