I got to thinking about what chickens should be eating when I slaughtered some 3.5 year old laying hens. When I was opening them up I noticed the inside was full of fat and the organs were trashed. I feed my birds organic feed. I also sprout them grains soaked in water with Sea-90. I also feed them scraps from the local organic co-op. I add a little seaweed and trace mineral clay. They aren't fenced in. They have vegetable and ornamental gardens to roam in. So why were their insides full of fat and trashed? I believe a year round grain diet is not only not good for us it is not good for chickens either. Sure some every fall is natural. However, I believe grain fed all year long is wrong. It is too high energy and the body stores the extra energy as fat. Since winter, a time without grain, never comes these birds are stuck bulking up on saturated fat all year long. It is like a bear living off berries 365 days a year. That bear would eventually explode. That is basically what it was like slaughtering my laying hens. I barely made the incision and fat came gushing out.
I propose we get our birds off grain through winter, spring and maybe even summer. Mark Shepard has a great model. Don't feed them altogether. Just manage the land so it feeds them by itself. This would require a much longer explanation but at it's most basic it is like ecological judo where you use your opponents energy to defeat him. Except in this case there is no competition and your goal is to better the other person (earth). It would be better described as a dance. There is some much life humming that chickens eat that. Sure they are a little skinny but if over time he can harness all the free resources that float or fall his way he may one day produce birds better than Nature alone could. He is raising birds together with Nature. His birds wouldn't be getting grain all year long because it doesn't grow all year long. However, if we can't set up a land system to feed our birds and we still want birds then maybe we should feed our birds a diet that resonates better with them. Why not a use food higher in fat and protein through the winter, spring and maybe even summer? This is where the maggots come in. Don't feed the birds grain after the fall. Feed them a diet high in fat and protein percentage but not large amounts. Maybe this will help the birds will use up all that saturated fat like it does in people. Maybe all animals, in the north, should go ketogenic in the winter. This is when the body uses fat as fuel instead of carbs. So what do we feed them? Maggots, lard, and mostly let them use the saturated fat reserves up.