Tricks and Treats for Your Chickens

Caring for chickens involves ensuring that they receive the proper nutrients. Chickens need plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients daily to stay healthy. But did you know that chickens also love to get treats from time to time? Chickens are just like any other animal: they recognize that not all food is the same. Though they can’t taste sweet and spicy flavors, they love to indulge in various chicken treats, such as fruits, vegetables, and many healthy options.

You can give your chickens treats to add variety to their diets. Like any creature, they can get tired of the same food day in and day out. Treats can also be used to add extra vitamins and nutrients to your chickens’ daily diet, as well as to help keep your chickens entertained. Your chickens will benefit in many ways from treats. Read on to find out what kind of treats your chickens will love and some of the benefits they provide. 

Chicken Treats For Variety 

Although nowhere near as efficient as a human’s taste buds, studies have shown that chickens can taste things that are salty, bitter, and sour. They don’t, however, have the ability to taste spicy or sweet things. 

Your chickens will really appreciate receiving treats every now and then. Aside from their usual diet of mostly grains, a little variety will make your chickens happier and healthier. However, be sure to research before giving your chickens kitchen scraps because many things can be toxic to them. A few of these include raw green potato skins, raw or dried beans, avocado peels and pits, uncooked rice, citrus fruits, and the leaves of tomato, pepper, and potato plants. 

Not many people would enjoy eating the same meal every day, and chickens are the same way. You can give your chickens many different treats to add a little more variety to their diets. They love leafy greens like kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and many types of fruit, such as watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries. Be sure to only feed them these in moderation. A few other vegetables that your chickens will love include beets, cucumbers, squash, and broccoli. 

Chickens spend their days pecking and scratching at the ground for food, bugs, and worms. Since they can’t taste spicy food, a neat treat to give them is to sprinkle red pepper seeds or flakes around the area where they like to scratch. Red pepper contains capsaicin, which has been known to disrupt worm colonies in chickens and can help them fight off bacterial infections. Your chickens will spend hours scratching and pecking at the seeds and flakes, all while enjoying a healthy treat. Red pepper seeds and flakes can also help boost your flock’s egg production and give your egg yolks a deeper, richer color.

It’s not really known if chickens have a preference when it comes to the texture of food, but I find that my chickens prefer to eat bread, crackers, rice, and cereal. They seem to like things that are drier, like grains. When it comes to things that feel soft and wet or squishy (like mashed potatoes), they seem to avoid them.

Treats for Extra Vitamins

Giving your chickens treats along with their daily feed can help boost their vitamin and nutrient intake. Store-bought feed is made up mostly of grains with some added protein and calcium. While chickens need these nutrients, your flock will greatly benefit from healthy treats in moderation because they can add a variety of vitamins and nutrients to their diet. 

To boost your chickens’ nutrient intake, you can feed them many things that come right out of your own garden! Common items that chickens love include leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, turnip greens, cabbage, and collards. Treating your chickens with greens in moderation can provide them with a boost in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Did you know that you can also benefit from letting your flock roam freely in your garden?

Your chickens will also munch on any late-season or bug-ridden cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, squash, and pumpkins that you may have around. Since chickens love bugs, a cool trick is to keep your chickens alongside your garden so that they can help keep it protected from pests while enjoying more treats in the form of bugs. 

Protein plays a vital role in your chickens’ egg production, growth, and overall health and immunity. They don’t need extra protein all of the time. However, chicks and growing pullets will need more protein than more mature chickens. It is a good idea to increase your flock’s protein intake as the colder months approach. This will help them produce thicker feathers and increase their body mass, to help them keep warm.  

You can also feed your chickens eggs if you need to increase their protein level quickly. One quick recipe: boil the eggs and mash them up with a potato masher. Leave the shell in as well because it gives them calcium which helps in egg production and helps produce stronger shells. You can mix in a few red pepper flakes as well. 

Another way to treat your chickens and increase their protein is to feed them live or dried mealworms. Chickens love bugs, so I’m sure they’d prefer the live ones if available, but the dried ones are almost as nutritious. They are an excellent source of protein that your chickens will surely love. They also love earthworms, crickets, lawn grubs, grasshoppers, beetles, and a variety of other creepy crawlies. 

The summer heat can also be hard on your chickens, depending on your area’s climate. Frozen fruit puree or fruit juice is a fantastic and nutritious treat that your chickens will love on a hot summer day. You can freeze puree or juice in zip-lock bags. Once frozen, place in bowls inside or outside of your chicken coop. They will enjoy pecking at the frozen puree or juice, and they’ll reap the many benefits of the added vitamins from the fruit. 

Many kitchen and garden scraps also make excellent, vitamin-packed chicken treats. Corn on the cob, bread, rice, cereal, tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, and leafy greens can all provide a huge boost to your chickens’ nutrient intake. Chickens will also eat many types of herbs, including thyme, basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, lavender, and oregano.

Treats to Keep Your Chickens Entertained

Some days, you’ll experience bad weather, and you may not be able to let your chickens out into the yard. Chickens who are “cooped up” all day tend to get bored and anxious. You can use treats to keep your chickens entertained on days like this. 

One thing you can do when your chickens have to be cooped up all day is to hang a whole head of cabbage from one of the roosts inside their coop. Chickens are curious creatures, so they usually entertain themselves all day by pecking at the hanging cabbage. The cabbage will last a while, but you could also try this with a variety of other vegetables and fruit. You don’t have to just hang cabbage or fruit on rainy days, either. This makes great entertainment, no matter the weather. 

Another treat that will keep your chickens entertained is to drill a few holes (about the size of a pencil or a little smaller) in a plastic bottle and fill it with scratch grain or chicken feed. You can place one just outside of the RUN-CHICKEN Automatic Coop Door so that when it opens in the morning, the chickens have a little surprise waiting for them. Just imagine how happy they’ll be! Your chickens will have a great time pecking at the bottle and rolling it around to get the food out, keeping them entertained inside or outside the coop.  

Freezing a can of corn and serving it to your chickens is a great way to keep them entertained and cool in the summer heat. This little trick will allow them to peck at the corn as the ice melts and give them a cool, refreshing summer treat. You can also do this with other vegetables and fruit.

Conclusion

One of the most common chicken foods is store-bought scratch grain. Scratch grain is usually a combination of grains, including corn, wheat, oats, barley, milo, millet, and sunflower seeds. You can also purchase laying mash for your egg-laying hens, which is a combination of ground grains with protein and legumes (nitrogen) added. Last but not least, make sure your hens have a quiet and comfortable place to lay eggs. Run-Chicken Nesting Box provides a private nesting area for your hens with plenty of room for comfort and a feeling of security. Happy hens lay more eggs!

Contrary to popular belief, though, chickens are omnivores. Though their diets mainly consist of grains, they need other vitamins, proteins, and nutrients to stay healthy and happy. Chickens are like many other household pets: they love to get treats. Giving your chickens greens, vegetables, fruits, bread, grains, and kitchen and garden scraps in moderation will not only make them happy, but it will also keep them healthy by boosting their overall nutrient intake. Your chickens will surely benefit from receiving healthy, nutritious, and delicious treats from time to time. 

Are you interested in reading more tips and tricks for Raising Chickens? 

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