Busting Chicken Myths

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I’d like to bust some of the chicken myths I’ve heard folks tell me before. On the left are the things I’ve heard and then on the right I bust the myth with modern fact and explain why the myth isn’t the best for this particular case.


‘My grandpappy used to just dunk those chickens in turpentine or gasoline when they had mites and lice. That fixed ‘em right up!’

Yeah, I’ll bet it fixed the chicken right up. I’m sure it did also kill the mites or lice involved. Aside from being a literal walking fire hazard for a few minutes to an hour, dunking chickens in gas or turpentine is toxic to all involved. What you put on your skin gets absorbed so eggs wouldn’t be safe to eat for days. If you’re keen to use petroleum products, try Vasoline instead!

‘My grandma said that you have to have a rooster with the hens to get them to lay.’

Nope. Hens will lay all on their own. No rooster needed unless you want baby chicks. Even I used to think that roosters stimulated hens to lay more often, but I recently read that it is a myth. After doing some numbers on my own coops and compared rooster to rooster-free ones, I discovered it really is a myth. Which is a good thing for folks considering urban coops where roosters are usually forbidden.

‘Granny fed ‘em dog food. It always worked for her. We ate those eggs and we were fine! Don’t need no stuck up, city-folk… mumble-mumble…’

Dog food is not something chickens should eat on a regular basis as it is not formulated for a chicken’s nutritional needs and can make them ill after a while. I wouldn’t worry if the chickens get a few bites of your dog’s kibbles, but don’t actively feed it to your chickens. Aside from that, processed pet food is awful for just about anyone’s health. Would you really want to eat eggs from chickens who eat dog food? Most of it is made in China, where health standards are very low and a lot of profit is made by greased palms who look the other way. Anyone remember the scandal where melamine was found in dog food and baby formula?

‘We’ll just use the chicken poop straight from the chicken. Worked great for my PawPaw.’

I doubt it. I think PawPaw probably aged his chicken poop on a compost heap first before using it in the garden. Otherwise, it would burn all the plants up and he’d have a brown veggie patch.

‘We always used a light to keep chickens laying all year long. Never had any problems when I was growing up so we still do it now. The chickens are just fine.’

This one is kind of a personal bone with me. Again, I don’t believe that tradition is always right, but nature usually is (not all the time, but that’s Natural Fallacy and we can talk about that later). This is sort of a reverse example of Granny’s wisdom because if Granny had been around 120 years ago she wouldn’t have even had lights. Whereas most Grannies were born in the 40’s or 50’s and post-post-industrialization. Using lights goes way against nature. With chickens I believe the hens involved will have a shorter life, but I don’t have hard evidence on that one yet. I do know that most factory farms run through a hen as hard as they can, don’t let them molt sometimes, and perhaps this is why using lights bothers me so much. Just like keeping bees awake 24/7 with lights so they can keep producing, it’s plain wrong. Humans should be the keepers and caretakers of animals. Forcing production is not caring for our animal brethren. Every farmer has to make a personal decision about this. I strongly recommend a lot of research if you choose to use lights with your hens.

‘My granny always bought the brown eggs from the store. Said they were healthier. So I reckon I should get a brown egg layer!’

Nope, sorry. No difference between brown and white or any other color eggs.

‘Eggs are bad for you. Everyone knows they’re full of cholesterol!’

Even our own wonderful USDA has finally twigged to the fact that food sources of cholesterol do not raise blood cholesterol levels. Like much of dear Granny’s wisdom, it’s 1950’s science for a 21st century world. Even most doctors are estimated to be 17 years behind on current science discoveries.



1 thought on “Busting Chicken Myths

  1. I’m with you on no lights to keep hens laying. They get a vacation from laying and everyone needs a vacation.

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