Giving treats to your chickens is a good way to earn their trust and keep them happy, healthy, and laying eggs. However, finding the best treats for a happier flock of chickens might seem like a daunting and time-consuming task, largely due to the wide range of products available. Just like humans, different chickens may have different tastes. What some love so much that they literally fight for it, others might not give the time of day to.
If your chickens’ diet isn’t right, you may notice certain signs such as reduced egg production, feather picking, and general unrest, and abnormal eggs. Therefore, it’s particularly important to ensure that your chickens are getting vital nutrients, minerals, and vitamins from their food. Here are the top 9 chicken treats for a happier flock of chickens.
Pears, apples and other fruits
- Fruits are just as good for your chickens as they are for you. Low in fat and full of vitamins, fruits are a great choice as a healthy chicken treat. Allowing your chickens to free-range in an orchard, or planting fruit trees in your backyard or chicken run works very well as your chickens will not only eat fallen fruit but also fertilize the ground.
- You can plant a few peach, fig, pear, persimmon and pear trees in your chicken run and shake ripe fruit from the trees for your chickens in the afternoon sun. However, if you don’t have space for large full-size trees, you can buy different fruits when they are in season, plant dwarf varieties, or make a deal with neighbors or friends for some windfalls.
- Berries are not only rich in vitamins A, B complex and C, but they are also an excellent source of beta-carotene. Therefore, if you have space, you can plant berry bushes in your chicken run; they’ll appreciate the fruits as well as the shade. You can also add over-ripe berries to spinach leaves with a few sesame seeds.
- All types of berries are good for your chickens to eat, including hawthorn, rosehips (berries’ of rose bushes), and blackthorn bushes which are rich in vitamin C. Berries are particularly helpful in the winter and autumn when other fruits are not in season and are generally more expensive to buy.
- Since rosehips can be very hard, you can grind them up and leave them to dry before feeding. Avoid giving your chickens berries that have been treated with commercial pesticides because they can be toxic to your chickens. You can avoid unpleasant or toxic chemicals by either washing well any berries you buy or grow your own.
Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli
These cruciferous vegetables are also known as “super-vegetables” because they are packed full of disease-fighting phytochemicals and healthy vitamins. These three vegetables are packed full of calcium (6.3% in cabbage, 4.3% in broccoli, and 2.4% in cauliflower) which is particularly good for egg-layers. They are also rich in vitamin C and anti-carcinogens, making them a great choice of healthy treat for your chickens.
- Mix grated carrots with leftover broccoli florets, cucumber and zucchini slices or dandelion leaves for a healthy summer treat for your chickens. You can make these vegetables more interesting to your chickens by simply hanging them from a suet feeder, especially if they are confined to their coop during harsh winters.
- This is one of the best treats for a happier flock of chickens. Carrots are packed with vitamin C and contain no fat at all. They also have anti-cancer properties and can also help make egg yolks a vibrant shade of orange. Besides being inexpensive and packed full of goodness, carrots are also easy to grow in most areas.
- Carrots are very versatile and you can also add them to other veggies and fruits in this list to create a high protein winter feed that your chickens will love. Chickens love vegetables and fruits and you’re free to feed them any fruit or vegetable except raw green peels (such as potato peels) and citric fruits such as lemons and oranges.
Despite being considered a weed in most parts of the world, dandelions are very popular in some countries including Italy where they are even sold at local plant nurseries. The leaves are used both in salads and for chickens during the summer months.
- Dandelions are a good source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium, and have virtually no fat. Therefore, they are great to throw into high protein chicken feeds to add value. It’s good to encourage dandelions to grow in your garden, backyard or chicken run. Just pull them up and toss them to your chickens. They will not last long!
- Chickens tend to prefer the petals and the younger, tender leaves. They usually dismiss the older leaves because they are too bitter or too tough, or both.
- Pumpkin is a great chicken treat with numerous health benefits. Its seeds contain a deworming compound known as cucurbitacin which helps expel tapeworms. Since pumpkin can be hard to peel, you can simply cut it in two or hit it with a hammer to break it open for your chickens.
- Pumpkin will keep them entertained and happy for hours as they peck away. You’ll notice that your chickens will eat it in its entirety. Pumpkin also turns the egg yolks into a deeper shade of orange for several days after your chickens have eaten them.
- Watermelon is a great summer treat for happier chickens. It is also full of vitamins and essential minerals. You can buy watermelon when it’s in season and cut them up into small chunks before feeding them to your chickens. The watermelon chunks can also be frozen for used during hot summer days. You can place frozen watermelon chunks into the chickens’ water bows to keep the water cool and your chickens can also peck at them.
Flygrubs superior to dried mealworms for chickens
- This superior organic supplement supports the immune system and contains 85 times more calcium than regular dried mealworms. It’s a great treat for healthier chicken because your chickens will also benefit from healthy fats and a high level of proteins that range between 36% and 42%. Flygrubs are filled with lysine, phosphorous and fiber. This promotes their natural feeding habits if you simply scatter them on the ground.
- Flygrubs chicken treats do not contain any grains and it’s an excellent alternative to keep your birds happy and healthy. This organic supplement also helps improve egg production in chickens. The full-size grubs are also easier to handle than live or broken worms. These are superior to their freeze-dried alternatives. This supplement is also rich in lauric acid, which has very strong antimicrobial properties that help fight bacteria. Its high calcium levels help promote and sustain eggshells while maintaining normal energy levels.
Treats For Chicken Certified Organic Crack Treat
This organic crack treat can easily become a favorite for your chickens. It’s an excellent combination of organic seeds. Also, dried mealworms, dried river shrimp, grains, and organic seeds. Moreover, the wide range of textures and flavors will make your chickens even more excited about this organic treat.
- You can also rest assured that this chicken treat contains certified organic ingredients that offer a wide range of health and nutritional benefits. Its ingredients include various interesting elements such as cracked corn, buckwheat, flaxseed, barley, sunflower seeds, rye, dried river shrimps and mealworms. These healthy and natural ingredients are safe for your chickens. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to sprinkle a general amount on the ground to encourage their natural foraging behavior.
- There are no preservatives or artificial colors and flavors included in this chicken treat. So you shouldn’t worry that any unhealthy or toxic ingredients might become part of your birds’ diet. This is to promote healthy digestion and energy levels.
There are several things to consider when choosing chicken treats. You want to ensure they are actually getting the right amount of vital nutrients in their diet. It’s also important to keep in mind that chickens should have the option to eat several times a day. Therefore, for some people, it might be important to factor in cost. You should also consider their age and whether you have other chickens among egg layers because they may require different things in their diet. Just like other animals, chickens also require minerals, fats, vitamins, protein, and carbohydrates. When choosing treats for a happier flock of chickens, you should go for treats that include all of these things.
Some chicken treats come mixed with ground oyster shells or limestone for grinding up food. If you’d like to buy a treat that includes these, be sure to look at the label. You may also find it easier to buy it as a separate scratch feed. Another important consideration is whether or not organic and non-GMO treat is important to you. Therefore, you should always check the ingredients before buying chicken treats. This will ensure quality growth and good health of the flock.
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