I recently had the pleasure of the attending the International Poultry & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a HUGE event with over 1200 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees from all over the world. It’s the go-to show if you grow chicken for meat and eggs, process chickens & turkeys, supply equipment, or are in any way connected to poultry. I had a blast meeting people, learning and connecting! This event has been held in Atlanta since 1948 and is well-known and anticipated by the businesses. My taxi-cab driver called it the “chicken plucker show”.

Blog-34_01Anyway, as part of the exposition, there was a small poultry museum set up and they had all kinds of neat stuff. I’m not a huge antique fan, but it was fun to browse around and see items accumulated over the last 80+ years.

Blog-34_02I got to talking with the man running the museum for the day and asked him all sorts of questions. The conversation continued with the usual questions of where I was from and what type of farm I had. As it turns out the gentlemen had actually been up in Alberta in the early 1970’s installing poultry equipment…with my father whom he remembered fondly!

Blog-34_03One of the items that caught my eye was this old-fashioned feeder made from clay. The text reads:

WESTKO BUTTER MILK FEEDER and POULTRY WATERER
This Fountain is made for a
Butter Milk Feeder or Waterer
Acid in Butter Milk will not
Effect the glazing, therefore no
Poultry will be poisoned.
ALWAYS SANITARY

When I asked about this, he explained that in the days before refrigeration, milk was kept in the bottom of wells. When that milk no longer was fresh enough to drink, the separated buttermilk, was fed to chickens.

I did a little research and found a publication from the Manitoba Department of Agriculture dated June 1945 that explains the benefits of buttermilk:

Skim milk and Buttermilk are excellent for all classes of poultry but especially valuable for young chicks, laying hens and fattening birds. Milk supplies the vitamin riboflavin which is indispensable to high hatching quality in eggs. As a desirable protein supplement, milk undoubtedly heads the list.

I’ve always believed that milk is another one of nature’s perfect foods and wondered if it is a common protein source in modern-day poultry nutrition. I checked with my own nutritionist who remembers that stale milk was combined with chop to feed pigs and poultry over 40 years ago. As far as feeding buttermilk and milk powders now, they are too costly to compete with other protein sources—too bad! I guess I’ll have to settle for combining buttermilk and eggs to make my mom’s delicious buttermilk pancake recipe:

Blog-34_05

Blog-34_04Chicken people just can’t resist having a little fun!