Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Leann's Happy Hen Gourmet Mash

Here's an "action shot" of the hens enjoying my world famous Gourmet Mash. 9.5 out of 10 hens agree this is the meal of their lives!

The mash often consist of a small quantity of layer pellets with yogurt, cottage cheese or kefiili (like kefir, a cultured milk product) plus odds and ends of whatever is available. The cultured milk products are very, very good for helping chickens stay healthy.

This weekend I made an amazing gourmet mash which made the hens extremely happy, and wanted to share this recipe with you poultry enthusiasts. Since it involves meat, if you are a new visitor, please check the archives for my post on chickens as omnivores--other poultry enthusiasts have assured me they see the same dietary behavior in their flocks too! We don't often feed them meat, but it has a dramatic positive health benefit when we do. Consider adding meat to your mash recipe in the early spring to help boost immunity after a long winter, after an illness, and during a molt to help protein depleted birds (feathers are all protein). You can also omit the meat or other items from this mash and add your own ingredients.

Leann's Happy Hen Gourmet Mash
feeds a flock of 20 (with enough left over that everyone gets some)

1-2 pints yogurt or other cultured milk product
1 pint low-salt cottage cheese
2 pounds ground beef
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch lemon balm
1 head garlic
1-2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1 pint baby tomatoes
enough pellet feed to make a mushy consistency

2-3 casserole type pans

Put all the pans on a counter or work space where you can evenly divide the ingredients between the 3 pans.

-Add the yogurt & cottage cheese
-Remove leaves from lemon balm and add to pans
-Take parsley, and using scissors, snip entire bunch into small pieces
-Put in ground beef, yes, raw
-Slice all tomatoes in half and add

Mix with hands, getting ground beef and cottage cheese thoroughly mixed

-Add a small quantity of pellets to mash, enough to make it thicken
-Peel most of paper husks off garlic cloves, and add cloves to Cuisinart
-Add pumpkin seeds to Cuisinart, and blend until both garlic and seeds are in bits
-Add this mixture to mash

Mix well, and serve (put the dishes in various parts of the run so all hens, low and high in terms of pecking order, can eat freely)

I don't always use all these ingredients, but a little about what the benefits are for your flock:

Cultured dairy products are as beneficial for hens as they are for humans. Cultured dairy is high in protein and calcium, and the friendly flora helps prevent diseases and parasites in a flock.

Meat, as I've already mentioned, can be an excellent periodic supplement to a flock diet. This is especially true after winter, illness, or a molt when a hen's protein needs increase dramatically. Additionally, according to the Weston Price Foundation, there are fat soluble vitamins and activators that only meat can provide. Since raw is better, put your meat in the freezer for 2 weeks prior to feeding to your birds, to kill any possible parasites, etc. Feel free to search the archive for a post about feeding raw deer liver to the flock--they loved it!

Lemon Balm is a powerful antiviral--our flock was exposed to viral poultry pox, which is sort of like human oral herpes in that it is non-fatal and they carry it for life. So for our flock, treating with lemon balm is a good thing.

Parsley is extremely high in minerals and vitamins. I've also been known to use granulate kelp and dulse.

Garlic is a potent antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitical, and antibacterial. Organic poultry farmers rave about use of garlic, and the mash is the best way I've found to get the girls to eat it.

Raw pumpkin seeds are noted in Chinese medicine to be excellent at expelling worms and other parasites in humans, I hope this is true for hens. If nothing else, it's a great vegetarian source of protein and zinc for the flock. Zinc is another immunity booster. Sunflower seeds are a great substitute if all you want is the protein boost.

Tomatoes are reputed to be useful in changing internal ph so that a hen's body is not hospitable to parasites and other disease bearing invaders. I have also heard that pomegranete seeds and cranberries are useful for the same thing.

Have fun making your own mash--your hens will love you for it!

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Katy Skinner said...

Hi, Leann. Your chicken mash sure sounds decadent for a chicken. You treat them well. You also sound very knowledgable about health foods. I've been having fun taking two minutes out of my day and clipping grass into a bin for my three hens. (I only have three hens right now, but more in the future, I'm sure.) I don't let my hens roam out of their chicken tractor because the kids would step in the chicken poop. And I don't trust the neighborhood dogs around here. The three hens--an Australorp, Barred Rock, and RIR--are all laying now, and even just three hens lay more eggs than this family of four can use, so I've given eggs to five neighbors so far. In other news, they have actually started work on our new house; the foundation is being poured today. So in our new house (as opposed to this rental house) I can do whatever I want regarding chickens. Perhaps re-start my pullet raising business. Like Seth said; small world, that you work where he does! He was just here last Saturday for a BBQ! Thanks for driving all the way up to Yacolt, Seth!

--Katy Skinner

Katy Skinner said...

Oh, and Leann...I just put a link to your HappyHens Blog on my "fave links" page:


-Katy Skinner

Katy Skinner said...

Today we let the three hens out (Henny Penny, Jail Bird, and The Black One) and Bert (my 6 year old son) was feeding them some bread, and we started to sort of "train" them to eat out of our hands, and then Bert was training them to jump up for the bread. Henny Penny could jump up really high! We were thinking we should train them to do tricks, jump up on chairs, through hoops, etc. :)

--Katy Skinner

happygardeningmama said...

Katy, My idol! The original Goddess of Urban Poultry! Thank you so much for adding me to your faves--you have no idea how honored I am since your site literally got me started. I totally raved to Seth about you, I had no idea you were related! I feel like I'm having a close brush with a celebrity! ;0)

I'm still trying to figure out how to include my favorites in a side column--might move to typepad where that's part of the blog functionality. In any event, your site would be at the top of the faves.

happygardeningmama said...

That's great about your son training the hens to do tricks. We've not handled the new "little girls" quite as much as we did the older flock, so they haven't associated us with good things, like food, just yet. Let me know when you start your traveling chicken road show!