Bug eating chickens: My secret weapon August 11, 2012

I hate to admit it, but I am terrified of large, ugly insects.   I love furry and feathered animals;  I can handle pet mice, pet rats, reptiles, and even slimy amphibians… but most critters with more than four legs are extremely creepy to me.  Thanks to lizards, geckos, toads—and of course our wonderful bug eating chickens —crawling insects are rare in our home and backyard, and we’ve had no need for exterminators or bug sprays.

One of my best bug-eating chickens

This is Pepper, one of my favorite breeds of chicken, a Barred Plymouth Rock, and one of the reasons bugs are scarce at our place.

However, last week, as I stepped into the dining room, I saw a horrific sight!  A large, 1.5″ long  American Cockroach was moseying across my floor.  I hadn’t seen one of these for years and stood there frightened and unable to move for a few seconds.   I was barefoot, and my first thought was that I needed to find a large shoe to throw at it, but at the same time, I could not afford to take my eyes off this creature and have it escape.  Horrors of all horrors—if this bug was to escape—I would not be able to sleep at night for fear it would crawl up onto my bed.

Normally, in situations such as this, I would call on my husband for help, but since he was out of town, the following story unfolds:

I call out for my teenage daughter to find a shoe for me, a shoe that will make a good whacking instrument.   Dear Daughter responds that she will not help me murder it, but instead, wants to save its life—ugh!  She grabs a bowl and paper as tools for performing a heroic ‘capture and release’, but then chickens out.  When she realizes neither of us are brave enough to approach it, and I have convinced her it isn’t safe to leave the roach alone, (since she also has no desire to have a cockroach climb up on the couch with her), she concedes.

We try the shoe, but don’t have enough gumption to get close enough to squish this hideous creature.  By now, the cockroach has scurried behind a small bookshelf to hide and I have yet another idea.  I send my daughter to look for a spray—any type.  We don’t own any bug spray, but I am hoping some type of cleaner will work.

I am now armed with spray cleaner in one hand and a shoe in the other (just in case), but still don’t feel very confident.  I can’t stand the thought of squishing the horrid insect and am nervous that the cleaner won’t work.   I ask my daughter to slowly move the bookshelf away from the wall, which she does, but the cockroach does not cooperate.  Instead, it clings onto the underside of the shelf.

Pepper is one of our favorite bug-eating chickens

Pepper is one tough chicken—big bugs beware!

Still terrified and creeped out, I dread the idea of  having to coax or prod this hideous bug to come out of its hiding place when I have a terrific idea.   I realize at that moment that I know just who to call on to rescue us: one of our wonderful bug eating chickens.

My daughter guards the shelf, while I hurry out to retrieve Pepper, our 4 year old Barred Plymouth Rock.   Suddenly brave, since I now know I don’t have to get quite so close, I use a broom handle to nudge the large insect onto the floor and only a few seconds later, that nasty cockroach is gobbled up by our courageous hen.

 

Pepper was a hero that night and truly enjoyed her reward (I guess I was more of a chicken than she was!)

Bug-eating chickens: leftovers

This is all that was left after Pepper’s high protein snack.

There are many reasons keeping chickens is a good idea.   Using a chicken to catch a scary bug (like using a cat to catch a mouse) is something I hadn’t thought of before last week, but our bug eating chickens really saved us that night!

Which chicken breed makes the best bug eater… or what hidden benefit of owning chickens has surprised you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

34 Comments
Paula August 11th, 2012

Living in South Florida, we have Palmetto Bugs which are roaches the size of aircraft carriers. Our girls love them. We have 4 RIR hens, which have been the best, least toxic pest control ever.

Dee Gooch August 11th, 2012

That story made me giggle. Partly because I used to be a bug-a-phobe (until my husband started his own pest control business) and partly because we have about 30+ chickens. Just for future reference.. I’ve heard my husband mention Windex… I think it kills just about every bug/spider that can get into your house…. but then you wouldn’t have good stories like this to share. Ha.

How did I NOT become such a bug-a-phobe? I had no choice. He’s been in pest control for 20 years now.. and started his own business in January this year. I love marketing for him and you’d be surprised how many people at the Home and Garden shows (scared or not) love to see their fears trapped in a glass aquarium! We now have for pets several cockroaches, mice, brown recluse spiders, black widow spiders, scorpions.. etc.

Cheryl R. August 11th, 2012

Bug eating was one of my selling points to my husband for getting chickens! We were paying $40 a month to have someone spray Toxic chemicals around our house and backyard. I told him we could put those dollars towards feeding chickens, have a healthier environment and get free eggs out of the deal!

All my girls love bugs, but I find that my Red Star and Australorp are always the first to get them – don’t know if that’s a breed trait or just their personality.

Susan August 11th, 2012

I like that mine eat the bugs, but it the snake killing that really impresses me!! I have mixed breeds, all comers welcome in my coop, lol! My Chickers are all equally adept at keeping bug population within acceptable limits!

Sarah August 11th, 2012

I love this! When we got into chickens it was initially for the eggs. (We started in April so no eggs just yet). Then we discovered the bonus. Bug eating! I have seen the ladies scamper after many a creepy crawly with great delight. (Theirs AND mine)

Thanks for sharing!

roberta August 11th, 2012

Bugs, weeds and fertilizer…and eggs, can’t wait to get my girls in September
from My Pet Chicken!

Ti Kelley August 11th, 2012

Excellent interspecies cooperation! This might be a little icky, but my chickens love to clean up dead mice that the cats don’t finish and I appreciate them for it. This old farmhouse has lots of chicken food in the walls. Carpenter ants are another fave poultry snack.

chubseus August 11th, 2012

I usually use bleachy bathroom cleaners for the big bugs/roaches (had to dispatch a roach with lysol mold & mildew last week), but I admit I wouldn’t want to use it on carpet or wood flooring.

Diane August 11th, 2012

Such a cute story. I loved it!!! My chicks and I love to walk around the yard turning over rocks to find all of the goodies underneath.

auntynae August 11th, 2012

I miss my girls something fierce. I used the bug control and fertilizer argument to coax my husband out of having a hissy fit after I brought my two girls home. I bought Easter Egger chicks from a local farm supply store. I was told they were Auracaunas, but I can’t tell one Acauna from another. All I am sure of is that they laid beautiful bluish eggs.

I thought them to be great bug eaters till we had the influx of earwigs two years back. Either they couldn’t keep up – by that time I had three chickens, or they didn’t like the taste of the icky things.

I do understand the dislike of creepy crawlies and have been known to howler something fierce for the husband to come kill a millipede. I think my dislike grows exponentially with the number of legs a bug has.

Thank you for the cute story.

Sally Walsh August 11th, 2012

Yea Pepper! You are a hero!! I HATE cockroaches!

Katie August 11th, 2012

I have a barred rock who always eats up crickets, spiders, ants etc. My red star seems less eager to snatch them up.

Peggi Worth August 11th, 2012

I didn’t know anyone else was as terrified of cockroaches as I am. It is one of the main reasons I moved out of Florida. Still, there are plenty of creepy-crawlies for my chickens to eat in Ohio and just another reason to love them.

sclinton August 12th, 2012

My chickens saved the day at the end of the school year. They were not yet old enough to go the coop, but old enough to enjoy a little free range in the yard. I let them out to flutter around. while I was moving their pen so they would have fresh grass when I put them back in, they came running up and started pecking at something shiny on the ground. They had found a little snake right beside my foot, but just barely too big to eat. If it had been a rattlesnake, it could’ve bit me! The grass was tall right there so I scooped the snake up in a can and tried to determine what kind of snake it was. Turned out to be a checkered garter snake, which make good little pets. As it turns out, my son came home that afternoon stating he had to do a project for the science fair and he had decided to do his on snakes. Lucky for him, his mother happened to have one on hand to observe for a few days and then put on display at the fair! Those chicks found that little guy at the perfect time. After the fair, the snake was rehomed at a pond on my uncle’s farm.

Brenda Davalos August 12th, 2012

Our Leghorn, Marshmallow, loves eating bugs more than any of our other chickens. We even lift up rocks and stepping stones every couple of days so she can feast on the creepy critters. Sometimes, we’ve found her rooting through the garden for grubs and digging through the compost bin! Our other chickens aren’t too keen on bugs, but boy does Marshmallow love them. We’re convinced that if she had a choice, she’d eat bugs over chicken feed any day! :)

Laurel August 12th, 2012

Love your story, Mary Ann!

Glenda Stacy August 13th, 2012

Mary Ann
This is not about bugs-but about a black snake
I have talked to you several times on the phone at your work
I was teling you how good that my moms silkie was doing and the other group of baby chicks—but I now have a sad story to tell you
There was a hole in the coop that my step-dad had no idea that it was there and a black snake got into the side where the baby chicks were and it got all of the baby chicks except one of the silver sebrights–even the silkie that was doing so good and growing so pretty—I believe that the snake killed the silkie first—it was so sweet it watched over the little baby chicks like a mother hen—even though it wasnt even partially grown
my mom cried and cried over losing them and i was so hurt
They brought me the little precious silver sebright and i am raising it
She did get me to order her some more and they are suppose to be shipped out tomorrow
Henry my step-dad has went over the chicken house that looks like a chicken mansion to make sure that nothing at all can get in–
Hopefully she will have better luck with these
Those last ones were all so healthy and pretty—hope these will be healthy as the other ones–she is finally getting her white silky that she has wanted all along
I just wanted to let you know what happened and how proud weall were over the last ones that you all sent—where the first bunch had died
Hope your silkies are doing good—put another picture of them on here–I love the blue splash ones that you have–I tried to order mommy a blue one but they sold them out before i could finish my order
love reading your blog–seem like i know you just from talking to you about the chickens and seeing you with the chickens–I guess we could be called chicken friends

Aurelia August 13th, 2012

Hi Iam getting 6 chicks from MPC Tuesday of this week sooooo exited these are my first order from a hatchery sooooooexited

Valerie Haines August 13th, 2012

OMG, I named my barred rock Pepper too!!!!! hehe

Rachel and Sandra Verastegui August 13th, 2012

we are going to build a home made chicken coop its going to be awesome!!!!

Mary Ann August 13th, 2012

Valerie – Funny, you have a Pepper too – I think Pepper is a good name for a Barred Rock :)

Glenda Stacy August 13th, 2012

I thought that my moms baby chicks would be leaving out today–but they wont be leaving out until sept 4—because some of them didnt do well or make it i guess–but anyway mommy said that it would be better—because most of them that were replaced or substituted were silkies anyway–that is the kind that she loves the best anyway—she will be getting white black blue and buff
keep your fingers crossed that they will be fine and that she will finally be getting her white silkies and several more
she wants to raise some of them so badly

Mary Ann August 14th, 2012

Glenda – I’m so sorry to hear about your snake incident – that’s very sad :( I’m glad your stepdad has fixed your coop up to be safe against snakes and am sure your new silkies will love their new home when they’re old enough to be outside. It sounds like you have a nice variety of Silkies you are getting shipped September 4th.

Kim August 14th, 2012

You sound like me – I could completely relate to freaking out over a roach! Its funny how some of the hens go crazy for a big, um, dare I say treat? And others will not be interested in the least. Ginger, our Easter Egger was always the first to grab the stink bugs, but it seems her tastes have changed. Our Buff Orpingtons and Speckled Sussex are the ones that will be running around with a frog, toad, snake, etc. And once an orange colored lizard or gecko thing. I looked it up at the time and found out that he orange, there was a 50/50 chance that it was poisonous. Fortunately it was the one that didn’t secrete poison through its skin, and Kitty was just fine.

Mary Ann August 15th, 2012

Glad I’m not the only one scared of large, ugly bugs. Pepper loves to hang out with me when I’m weeding, etc, and goes after the little bugs under the stones I overturn, but I had just never figured she’d be used to go after an indoor creepy crawlie.

Stephen August 31st, 2012

We have had one of our red stars catach a field mouse, kill it, and attempt to eat it. Our speckeled sussex at a salamander one day too! Guess they will eat about anything they can get their beak on!

Glenda Stacy September 3rd, 2012

Mary Ann
I was just wondering about the blue silkies—how do you know if they are a splash-can you tell when they are little
My moms sikies are suppose to be sent out tomorrow and I wanted her to let me have one of the blue silkies and I hope that one of them will be a blue splash–I was looking on my pet chicken–the baby chicks in the blue silky and one was yelloe in coloe and the rest showed them being dark in color–is the yellow one a splash or do you know–we cant wait to get them in–bless mommys heart —she is excited about them

Mary Ann September 7th, 2012

Glenda, Click on this link and then look at the 2nd picture, titled: Blue Silkie Chicks: https://blog.mypetchicken.com/wp-admin/ From left to right, this photo shows a Splash, a Blue, and a Black Silkie. White Silkies are typically solid yellow – the Blues and Blue Splash may be a little harder to determine and you may have to wait till your chicks are a little older to know for sure. Feel free to send us some photos of your new chicks to info@mypetchicken.com and we’ll do our best to help determine their color for you.

rachel September 8th, 2012

New at this chicken and duck stuff. Had coyote get the ducks about 3 months old. The batams girl and boy about 2-1/2 months old. That left me 4 rock hens. Along comes a dog or fox, 1 more chicken gone. Now it is September that makes the remainder 5 months old. There was 1 rooster and 2 hens. Well, a fox got the rooster and tore it up in the lower part of the field. I loved that rooster he was a lover boy and kept the hens in line day and into the coop at night. Kernel Sander was his name, he left behind his ladies, Talking Chicken (guess why, yes they can be quite talkative), and Pine Tree Chicken (she loved to fly up in a pine tree and sit there). So here it is September and I have the 2 ladies left, finally got a coop that is safe and working on how to insulate for winter the box they sleep in. The run is nice but I noticed a racoon, fox or coyote tried to get at the coated chicken wire covering. Glad I did it top and all sides and heavy wood base, too heavy to get under, but I oopsed in haste, the extra screen about 3″ to extend beyond the wood base turned up on the top when I was making it. Oh well, it is fine. I just turned the stretched place into a small door out of the coop, which I had not invented yet mostly letting them come out of the coop they sleep in thru a top I can remove. But, I must say, this old place my daughter rented has met its challenger for all the creepy crawly things that abounded and spraying nearly made me ill as I have been holistic and enviro-green most of my life. Did learn value of Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) for vegetable gardens, home, dry grain and legumes, and bug control. BUT MY LOVELY CHICKY LADIES ARE THE BEST OF ALL. tHEY WALK ABOUT THIS PLACE SO PROUDLY WITH TAIL FEATHERS FANNED OUT AND A PROUD WALK AND PLAY SENTREY AGAINST THE BUG INVASION. THIS YEAR, FANTASTIC RESULTS SINCE THEY HAVE BEEN HERE. THEY LOVE TO EAT THE BUGS……….White Rock Hens they are and I would like to know if Americanas are equal in their work for their owners. The eggs I am still wondering about eating because these chickys have eaten so many many bugs I keep thinking what you put in you get out and am having a struggle eating the first 14 eggs that have been produced. Don’t laugh I keep trying to find information on this on the internet and find it extremely frustrating search. Anyone have any words about this. Glad to know other people hate the stupid creepy crawly bugs just as much as I do. But don’t let them get the best of you in how you respond to them, we are bigger than they are and we can put our attack chickens on their trail.

rachel September 8th, 2012

COULDN’T HELP ADDING THIS P.S.
YES, I CHECKED THAT BOX WHERE IT SAID “TO PROVE YOU ARE HUMAN” WHAT IF I WERE A CHICKEN JUST PECKING OUT THESE KEYS TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO THE WORLD. THAT CHICKEN RULE IN BUG CONTROL. YEAH, CHICKENS!

Mary Ann September 11th, 2012

Hi Rachel — Love the names of your roosters. I had some coyote trouble too — you can read about it here: http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/03/22/attack-of-a-wiley-coyote/ — In answer to your questions; Yes, the eggs you receive from your bug-eating chickens are perfect edible. Chickens are not vegetarians and their natual diet of bugs and weeds/greens, along with a natural or organic feed, helps your hens to produce very healthy and tasty eggs with darker yolks than store-bought. Most of us chicken owners can relate to Lissa’s blog about the tastiness of fresh eggs produced by healthy, happy hens: http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/02/06/on-the-secret-dangers-of-chicken-keeping/ —- Thankfully, those nasty bugs are great for chickens to eat – here’s a few more tasty treats your flock may love:: http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/03/02/treats-for-chickens/

Eleanore November 16th, 2012

We live on a farm I leave all the nasty bugs to my chicks, budgies, dogs, cats , and hedge hog.

Kim March 18th, 2013

Rachel, you rule!!! Chickens rule!!! I, too, am a chicken, pecking out keys(and also using my feet.) to disobay and prove that chickens won’t be stoped by some silly box saying that only humans can use this website!!!!!!! We chickens have RIGHTS!!!

Kim March 18th, 2013

My chickens kill mice.(No farm cats here!)

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