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PHOTO: Mia McGregor
It’s always a great time of year for tasty chicken treats for your backyard birds! Whether you are looking for a warm winter treat or a cooling treat for those hot summer days, we’ve got you covered.
Remember: These are treats and not a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. A couple times a week or a tablespoon or two per day per hen is plenty. An overly treat-heavy diet could lead to health issues. That being said: Let’s get to the chicken treats!
1. No-Bake Oat Balls
These are an easy versatile treat any time of the year. They are tasty for humans as well (unless you add mealworms to the mix!).
Yield: makes around 24 1-inch balls
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1⁄2 cup ground flax
- 1⁄2 cup raisins and/or coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon chia seed, sunflower seed, amaranth, etc.
- 1⁄3 cup honey
- 1⁄2 cup salt-free natural peanut butter
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
- Cover and chill dough in fridge 30+ minutes
- Roll into balls, or alternatively press dough into parchment-lined dish, and freeze. Then cut into blocks/bars.
- Serve to the chickens.
2. Grain Seed Block
Here is a hearty snack chickens can peck at for hours! The high-protein ingredients can also make a flock-block alternative, good for molting season.
- 3 cups of seeds, grains, scratch, unsalted nuts (I use quinoa, flax seeds, chia seeds and oats.)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1⁄2 cup chicken feed
- 1⁄2 cup mealworms or black oil sunflower seeds
- 3⁄4 cup fruit or veggie scraps or dried fruit/veggie (I use raisins and coconut flakes.)
- 4 surplus eggs from the chickens and their shells or flax/chia eggs
- 1⁄4 cup coconut oil
- 3⁄4 cup molasses
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients
- In a separate large bowl, mix wet ingredients.
- Pour wet ingredients in with dry ingredients, and mix with a spoon or your hands
- Pour into greased or parchment paper-lined pans. (I used two loaf pans, pictured right.) Thoroughly press mixture into each pan with your hands.
- Cook for 30 minutes or until firm and dark on the sides
- Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely. This should take a few hours.
- Invert pan and remove; scrape sides if needed. If it isn’t holding together, stick in freezer until firm or just feed it as a broken-up mix
- Serve to chickens on dish or hang up in a suet feeder.
3. Cozy Oatmeal
During those cold times of the year especially where it snows, chickens would surely appreciate some nice warm porridge. The pumpkin adds an orange tinge and a healthy dose of beta-carotene.
- 1⁄2 cup cooked oatmeal
- 1⁄4 cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon raw honey or molasses
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon mealworms
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds if you used your own pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon whatever you want that is safe for chickens
- In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients.
- Serve to the chooks!
4. A Fruit-or-Vegetable Vessel
This recipe basically uses surplus seasonal fruits or vegetables as treats. The produce itself is used as the container/dish.
- Vary. Examples include apples, watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupe, squash, etc.
- Pick your fruit or vegetable. I use an apple (pictured above left) or a melon (left).
- Core it if needed. I cored my apples.
- Fill with chicken-safe foods, such as salt-free peanut butter, flaxseed, etc.
5. Popsicle Pucks
This treat is extremely easy and perfect for the summertime! Chickens will appreciate a cool treat to beat the heat.
- Vary. Examples include scrambled eggs (plain), scrambled eggs with veggies or grains, peas, blended greens, mashed fruit, blended fruit, etc.
- Mash up or blend ingredients in blender with
a little water or use whole ingredients.
- Pour into the muffin tin. Add water, if needed, so it can freeze into a puck.
- Freeze until solid.
- Invert pan so pucks can fall out. Run bottom of pan under warm running water, if needed.
- Serve to chickens in a shallow dish.
Keeping chickens can be a lot more fun when you spoil them with occasional homemade chicken treats. Next time your chickens are all cooped up and bored, consider giving one of these recipes a try.
Your chickens are sure to have a clucking good time!
This story originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Chickens magazine.