We all love to spoil our chickens with treats every now and then.
Giving treats to your chickens helps to give their diet some variation. It also helps to keep them happy and laying eggs.
If you’re not careful buying treats for your chickens can cost lots of money, that’s why most of our treats are normally kitchen scraps and left overs… In fact, 75% of the cost of keeping chickens is made up of chicken feed.
Let’s take a look at our girls’ top 9 favourite healthy treats.
If you’re looking for even more treats, you can use this handy chicken treat chart.
Oatmeal is one of our girls’ favourite treats and it’s probably their favourite treat during the cold winter months.
Picture the scene: its 6:30am, pitch-black, and there is a thick frost on the ground.
I let our girls out of their coop and straight away they can smell the oatmeal. I just pour the oatmeal straight out into their trough- I’ve found in the past they can bully each other if I just put the pan down because they can’t all get to it at once.
You can also add either maple syrup or bananas to the oatmeal to help give it some variety.
There’s something about cottage cheese that our chickens just love. Maybe it’s the cheese taste or maybe it’s just the consistency?
Either way, they love it!
You can give your chickens cottage cheese straight out of the tub or you can mix it with vegetables. Both carrots and broccoli go really well with it.
It provides your chickens with several essential nutrients such as calcium which helps keep their bones strong. It’s also a great source of protein as laying chickens need around 20 grams of protein a day to produce an egg.
Pasta and Noodles
Have you ever seen free range chickens running around the garden with streams of pasta flowing out of their beak!?
Cooked pasta can be a cheap but filling treat for your chickens. Two cups of pasta is more than enough for a flock of six chickens.
Again, like with cottage cheese you can mix other food into the pasta. A nice creamy sauce or chopped up vegetables can go a long way to keeping your chickens happy.
However, they will be perfectly happy with just dry pasta.
If you are going to feed your chicken pasta, just make sure to cook it beforehand! I’m not sure they would appreciate hard, crunchy, raw pasta…
Mealworms are without a doubt our chickens’ favourite treat of all time.
They are a very quick and easy treat to give your chickens and require no preparation.
I just buy a 1lb bag of them and dump them into a pile inside our girls’ pen. It’s very entertaining to watch the chickens run back and forth with the mealworms in their mouth.
You can normally buy them from your local fishing/tackle store but they can be quite expensive- $20USD for 1lb. If you give your chickens mealworms regularly it might be worth considering farming your own mealworms.
You can either feed sweetcorn to them loose, mix it in with their pellets, or you can feed it to them straight from the cob.
Here’s a great idea if you want to keep your girls busy. Buy several corn on the cobs and hang the cobs using some string. You can then let the girls peck away at them- this should keep them amused for several hours.
Not only is sweetcorn a cheap treat, it’s packed with lutein and zeaxanthin which are phytochemicals that help keep your chickens vision healthy. It will also provide your girls with some much needed fiber.
We’ve already written about the superfood ginger and some of the health benefits your chickens will experience when eating ginger. Certain studies claim that feeding chickens ginger can increase the size of the eggs and also improve the amount of antioxidants in the egg yolk.
I tend to only use ginger when our chickens moult as it can help them grow back their feathers quicker.
If you are going to feed your chickens ginger you can either mix ginger powder in with their pellets or you can mix it in with their water.
However, make sure you only give your chickens ginger no more than once per month. Feeding your chickens too much ginger can cause muscle swelling and occasionally death.
Watermelon is the perfect summer snack for chickens.
Not only is it full of water and extremely refreshing for them, it also contains lots of essential vitamins and minerals.
I buy watermelon cheap when it’s in season and slice them up into small chunks. I then take the small chunks and freeze them.
During a hot summers day I get the frozen chunks out and place them into the chickens’ water bowl. This helps keep the water cool and the chickens can also peck at the watermelon.
You could also, mix the frozen watermelon in with plain greek yogurt. This helps spread the watermelon out and greek yogurt is also very refreshing for them.
Pumpkins are another one of those refreshing treats with added health benefits.
The seeds inside pumpkins help with worming. According to Delaware State University pumpkin seeds “contain a deworming compound called cucurbitacin which has been used to expel tapeworms”.
Pumpkin can be very hard to cut, so I just put the pumpkin inside our chicken pen and then hit it with a mallet to break it open for the girls.
Your girls will be entertained for hours as they merrily peck away. You will notice they will eat the pumpkin in its entirety- bar the skin.
Another benefit I found was that their egg yolks turned vibrant orange for a few days after they’d eaten the pumpkin.
Meat (Because Chickens Love it For Dinner)
When you have leftover meat, trimmings, or even leftovers from a hunting harvest, your chickens will be grateful for the extra handouts. You see, chickens are omnivores, and they love to eat meat.
Have you ever noticed your chickens attacking cat food, for example? Or chasing mice and frogs?
Well, this is because both examples are full of protein and most cat foods are targeted for carnivores, like kitties. But low-and-behold, chickens love to get in on the meaty action as well.
If it bothers you to feed your chickens chicken or poultry meat, you can stick to other types of proteins, like red meat.
Sometimes during the peak of summer, our girls can get carried away and lay too many eggs for us to cope with!
I could store the eggs or freeze them to use later, but instead I prefer to cook several of them and make scrambled eggs for the girls.
Scrambled egg is full of protein and can quickly fill your girl’s up.
Scrambled eggs are a superfood for chickens. Since their eggs are full of protein, they are perfect for giving your chickens a boost when their immune systems are failing them.
If I have a sick or injured chicken who is stressed, I always try to include some extra protein, often in the form of scrambled eggs, for the distressed hen.
Bonus: Don’t throw away the shells! Bake them for a few minutes at 350 degrees and then crush them up. They pack an extra punch of calcium!
Note: Always make sure you cook any eggs which you feed your chickens. You DON’T want your chickens getting a taste for raw eggs because they will start eating their own eggs.
One important point to make here is that you shouldn’t give your chickens too many treats as this can actually cause your chickens to stop laying eggs.
Just make sure that their treats are part of a consistent and varied diet and your chickens will be fine.
Let us know which treats your chickens love to snack on in the comments below!