This week’s recipe is one of my hen’s favorites (just watch the video below!) and yours will love it, too.
This time of year, it’s important to make sure your hens have enough protein and calcium in their diet so they produce healthy, strong eggshells as the return to laying.
That’s why today’s treat features some high-protein seeds and insects, as well as dried eggshells, which are bursting with calcium.
You might have heard that eggshells can turn your hens into egg eaters, and honestly, if the shells are raw, there’s a possibility that might happen.
Have a hen that love her herbs? (Who doesn’t?!)
Yes, I want nesting herbs for my spoiled hens!
I know on our farm, we’ve had some egg eaters, and they started out as opportunists.
Meaning that they wouldn’t have tried eating their eggs, except one cracked one day, and they realized there was something delicious in there.
Chickens are SMART. (I know, because I tried swapping black soldier fly larvae one day for a different, non-insect treat, and Lagertha looked at me like I grew a second head!)
Now, this isn’t to say that if all hens eat raw egg shells, they WILL turn into egg eaters. Of course, we can’t make blanket statements like that.
However, I personally err on the side of caution, and try to toast eggshells before feeding them as often as possible.
All you need to do is clean them off and allow them to toast in the oven at about 200 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until dry. It’s very easy!
Please just make sure that you crush them to tiny fragments. They might have sharp edges and you don’t want your flock getting micro-abrasions or possibly choking!
Remember, if you want, you can always grind them in a spice blender after they’ve been toasted.
I love the pumpkin seeds in this treat as well, and the pumpkin seeds, also known as “pepitas” in Spanish, are said to help prevent worms.
Technically, “pepitas” are the seeds without the shells. While chickens can and WILL eat both, if you have the shell-less variety, that’s the one to use, since they’re easier to digest, and the nutrients will be more bioavailable.
The jury is still out whether the pepitas actually DO anything to prevent worms in chickens, but it’s one of those “can’t hurt, might help” ingredients, and chickens LOVE the little tear-dropped shaped seeds.
The chia is another great ingredient for spring. As you probably know, chia has cleansing properties, and might help clear any toxins, potential blockages, etc from your flock’s digestive system.
You want your hens’ little bodies to be in tip top shape for spring, right? Well, chia seeds it is, then! (And it helps that hens love poking around, looking for the tiny black seeds!)
This recipe does call for non-GMO, organic ingredients, but if you don’t have access to organic, non-gmo ingredients, particularly wheat and corn, don’t worry – it’s okay to swap it out with what you do have.
Your hens will love it all the same.
In fact, as I prepared to take the photos for this article, Rooster Teeth looked on – and got VERY excited when she saw the big bowl of goodies!
She takes her role of “Chief Treat Tester” VERY seriously!
As with all my chicken treat recipes, you should also feel free to include your own ingredients if you want to make substitutions.
For example, mealworms would be a great substitution for the black soldier fly larvae, and you can easily use calendula in place of chamomile!
Have fun with your flock!
Pepitas & Chamomile High Protein Mix
¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds
2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
1 tablespoon crushed Eggshells
¼ cup Dried Chamomile (you can buy it here)
¼ cup Black Soldier Fly Larvae (You can buy them here.)
¼ cup Organic, non-GMO Corn
¼ cup Organic, Non-GMO Wheat Berries
Wash, dry, and lightly toast the eggshells at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. Crush them thoroughly so your hens can swallow them.
Combine the eggshells with the remaining ingredients, and have fun watching your hens gobble it down!
Have a hen that loves her herbs? (Who doesn’t?!)
Yes, I have a spoiled hen who wants nesting herbs!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.