Okay, they aren't literally. But here's the issue:
We've been vegan for about 8 years now. Everyone in the family is happy, healthy, etc. But I've been talking to people about eating locally, in a more environmentally sound way, and everyone seemed to tell me that soy wasn't so great for the environment, mostly since it's not grown and processed where I live.
So we decided to branch out and eat eggs again - local source of protein, right? I cannot get on board with eating eggs from chickens who will be butchered at midlife when they can no longer lay. So we decided to get our own pet chickens and eat thier eggs, but obviously not kill them. We ordered some chicks - very sweet little creatures, lots of fun for the kids to watch and take care of. But I look at the ingredients of their chick starter - a combo of soy and corn.
I've heard of people feeding their chickens kitchen scraps, bugs from their wanderings and plants that they find, but from what I've read, neither egg laying chickens nor chickens that people eat for meat can completely subsist on such a diet, except under rare optimal conditions. Most chickens pretty much subsist on soy and corn for the protein in their diet. And of this protein, only a relatively small percentage is turned into egg protein. So if I really wanted to eat more locally, chicken eggs don't do the trick. I might as well just eat my tofu rather than giving it to my chickens
We live in Northern New Mexico where it is cold and pretty much bug-less for about half the year. There are also hungry dogs, coyotes and hawks who roam around nearby. Our "pasture" is 2.5 acres of cottonwood trees, russian olives with some scrawny alfalfa, sanfoin and other wildflowers/wild grasses underneath. So there is a little bit they could eat while wandering, but definitely not enough to subsist on, and they will need significant protection from predators.
Of course, now we have 8 little peepers who are living in the workshop until they are big enough to go outside. So I'm happy to share the soy......But does anybody know about keeping chickens and feeding them a balanced diet which includes more table scraps and bugs? I'm rather clueless in this department, and I don't want to give the chicks a nutritionally poor diet.
p.s. I don't know exactly where to post this thread, but I thought maybe people would have some good ideas here...