Monday, June 3, 2013


Kermit Blackwood notes that the product he developed for the rare pheasants and other fowl he works with can improve nutrition for backyard flocks. Better nutrition leads to fewer management problems.

"I want to get the word out about the value of large Optimal ForageCakes for developing birds," he said. "Feeding Optimal ForageCake will decrease management problems and increase physiological development during this critical growth stage. Original ForageCake is better for a laying hen, a ringneck pheasant or a chukar- but only adult birds. Growing chicks should go from Babycake to Optimal and then Original."

The juveniles are not old enough to live like adults among adult birds. They've yet to become organized either psychologically or physiologically like the adults. They will often eat poop and one another's feathers, whether they're bored or hungry or not. "It's distressing to the hobbyist," he said.

They've been moved outdoors from an indoors situation where the light and temperature have been a constant. This is the age at which they often become infected with any number of maladies- and much this has to do with crowding. It's difficult not to crowd birds that clump together for warmth and psychological comfort. They crowd themselves.
The inclusion of Cackleberries is going to increase their energy. Adult birds don't need that extra energy but the chicks and moulting hens do. Cackleberry Nugget Treats  give them that nutritional and activity boost.

"The nutrients in those berries are also of vital importance," he said. "The Optimal ForageCake actually becomes even more optimal."

Chicks like their Babycakes. As they mature and are able to forage more but cannot because they're confined in close quarters, they should be moved onto their Optimal ForageCakes. 

"Unlike the hens that only forage periodically through the day on a cake, the tweens will forage all day on the same cake," he said.
Chickens forage for their food on the ground. It’s a useful evolutionary strategy for life on the forest floor, but commercial crumble, mash and pelleted feeds are not designed for the chickens’ most basic natural instincts. Chickens shoveling with bills and scratching with feet in commercial feedstuffs make a mess.

Kermit set out to solve the problems he observed as an animal management intern for the Wildlife Conservation Society, working with many species over his long career, including  Green Jungle Fowl, such as this one,
Bornean White Tailed Pheasants and Congo Peafowl and as General Curator of Marlboro College’s Life Science collection in Vermont. Nutrition proved to be one of the most challenging issues of working with these rarest of wild Galliform bird species, such as wild high altitude adapted Himalayan pheasants and domestic heirloom strains of Japanese Jittoko and Minohiki Fowls, French Marandaise, and Oceania’s Rapanui and Mapuche Fowls.

He observed that vegetable and grain-based feedstuffs move so quickly through a chicken’s digestive system that the food isn’t fully digested. Consequently, the birds produce copious amounts of acrid, partially digested droppings. Although the fowl are eating a lot, they aren’t utilizing all the nutrients. Their foraging behaviors end up contributing to the inefficiency of the feedstuffs. Ultimately, the birds may consume as little as 35 percent of the feed put out for them.

Kermit originally created this company with designer Robert DuGrenier in 2002. They mixed the ForageCakes in the kitchens of Taft Hill Farm and baked them in ovens. By word of mouth alone, a consistent consumer base emerged. By 2004, the product was so popular, a well-established family owned, wild bird seedcake company called Pine Tree Farm was hired to produce the ForageCakes.  
Social entrepreneur and economist, Warren Tranquada helped Kermit define and make the Resolve Sustainable Solutions brand name. At that time there were seven different formulations for seven different groups of birds with their respective nutritional requirements. 

Later, in 2006 a directing manager Charles Clour came on board and reorganized Resolve Sustainable Solutions. Their partnership further developed ForageCakes to address these management and husbandry issues. Eventually C&S products, which began producing the ForageCakes and the UltraKibble for R.S.S, absorbed the product line in 2010 and finally put the ForageCake and other unique, interrelated products on the map. The company produces three product lines formulated to American Zoo and Aquarium Association guidelines for sustainable agriculturalists, alternative livestock managers and private aviculturalists. 

The company’s Forage Cakes are giant granola bars, formulated as nutritional/behavioral supplements for chickens and other fowl. Used as directed, ForageCakes help captive birds better utilize their entire diet. They provide behavioral and nutritional enrichment while helping cure egg-eating and cannibalism. 

A large ForageCake will keep a dozen juvenile birds contently searching for treasure for up to three weeks. As the birds pound the cake by pecking at it. it's prudent to rinse the foragecake in warm water for a few minutes. This helps to physically soften the product and enable a renewed interest. 

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