A chicken is not a cow
The gist of my
last post is—a chicken cannot live on
grass alone. But why not, if a cow can?
A cow's digestive system is
very different from that of a
chicken. Cows are ruminants with a four-chambered stomach and
ability to chew their cud (regurgitating swallowed food to grind it up
further at their leisure). In addition, the cow's gut contains a
large quantity of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa that help digest the
cellulose that makes up such a large percentage of the grass
leaf. That means a cow can get energy from tough, woody blades of
grass (or from hay, which is nearly entirely cellulose), while most
other animals can't.
Chickens don't have any
of those digestive assets. The birds
don't even have teeth (although they do grind up food in their gizzards),
so they can't break apart tougher blades of grass in order to swallow
them. And chickens wouldn't want to eat tough grass anyway, since
they'd quickly fill up their small gizzards with low-quality food and go
hungry. Instead, if you watch a chicken on pasture, you'll see
the birds nibbling on tender young grass leaves, but spending more time
snapping up bugs, pecking apart
easily-digestible broadleaf plants, and swallowing seeds.
To read more about
pasturing chickens, check out my ebook Permaculture
Chicken: Pasture Basics, which is free on Amazon today. If
you enjoy the read, please consider taking a few minutes to leave a
review so strangers will take a chance on my ebook. Thanks for
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