Feed conversion rate and cicadas

Edible cicadaIn Pastured
Poultry Profits
Joel Salatin opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been comparing apples
to oranges with my
conversion rates

He explained that the industry standard I’ve been trying to live up to
(2:1) uses liveweight of the chickens — in other words, how much they
weigh “on the hoof” with feathers, guts, and all.  I’ve been using
carcass weight in my calculations, the industry standard for which is
closer to 3:1.  That seems much more achievable…

Jar full of cicadas

…Especially if I
supplement our flock’s diet with cicadas!  Yep, I’m here to admit
that my feed conversion rate for this first batch of broilers is going
to have no relation to reality because the
year cicadas
going strong this spring.  I suspect that if I had a way to let
Emerging cicadathe chickens run free without
having them decimate the garden, I wouldn’t be feeding the flock
anything at all — our broilers snap up the cicadas like candy, and
there are so many of the insects that I can easily gather a jarful like
the one shown above in twenty minutes.

This living off the
“cream” is how Joel Salatin is able to cut the feed costs in his
Eggmobiles by 67%.  I’ll write more about his system in a later
post, but the point I want to make now is that everyone’s habitat
offers a different chicken-feeding opportunity, and you have to be on
the lookout for free food when it falls in your lap.  The cicadas
are falling in my lap right now.

Male and female cicadas

Chicken eating cicadaBecause I just can’t resist
throwing in numbers, here are some to think about.  An ounce of
cicadas (liveweight) consists of about 38 individuals, with the number
depending on how many are males and how many are females.  (I’m
guessing the big ones are girls, but thirty seconds on the internet
hasn’t confirmed this.)

Chicken eating bug

My flock of broilers can
eat those 38 individuals in about three minutes, but only about 16% of
the humans I offered insects to were willing to
a cicada

“They’re delicious,” my
young cockerels tell me.  “Just gulp them down whole!”  Even
our dog has been seen hunting cicadas, which is yet more proof that the
bugs are as nutritious as they are delicious.  If you don’t feel
like eating them yourself, take my advice and spend half an hour
filling a jar for your flock.

Our chicken waterer provides clean waterer to
ensure the health of your flock.

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