May is National Celiac Awareness Month. I don my celiac advocacy hat. Darlings, do you have migraines? Tingling hands and feet? Gained or lost a lot of weight. Chronic fatigue? You have my prayers, and urge to get yourself over to check out the info on celiac disease at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website. You can read my own compelling story about discovery of my celiac disease here.
I had a letter from a reader, Miss Deb, who is gathering information for starting up her own gluten-free backyard chicken adventure. Below is my response. (I never want to waste good writing or advice.)
Hello, Deb. Thanks so much for writing. It is always heart-warming, dare I say instant-friend-producing, to meet another celiac/gluten-intolerant person and backyard chicken enthusiast. I know you know, as no other person can know. Everyone in my household is either celiac or gluten-intolerant, too, so I maintain a gluten-free haven.
You have asked for my thoughts on the matter of keeping gluten-free chickens, and here they are: As far as I know, neither eggs nor chicken meat contain gluten. What might be happening to you and your family is a not at all uncommon allergy to eggs. Eggs are one of the top 8 allergens. I am not only gluten intolerant, but also soy intolerant, mildly dairy intolerant, and I am find I can be sensitive to chicken meat, too, a fact which may be caused by all the eggs I do eat.
My dear hens are 13 weeks old today. I don’t know how the darlings compare in size and maturity to same-age hens fed commercial wheat-containing feeds, but they and I are perfectly happy. I get my hands in the grains and seeds when mixing, and never have a worry that I’m going to be ‘glutenized’ by dust or anything under my fingernails or on my clothing. Certainly my hens show no harm whatsoever. My little Princess Puny, who seemed to have a deformity and I did not think would live, has grown and is feisty as all the others. I do not find making their feed a chore; it is quite simple, and I suspect the whole grains and seeds may be instrumental in keeping the hens parasite-free.
Thanks so much for writing. I will keep posting my gluten-free chicken raising adventure on the blog. Do let me know how your own adventure in gluten-free backyard chicken keeping goes. As far as I know, we’ll be the only ones.