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Got chickens that love treats? Me too.
Often, I can’t walk into the coop without practically being mauled, and if I have dried insect treats, it’s over.
This article is inspired by my new book, Cluck Cakes, which shows you how to make 11 gourmet treats for your hens! They’re organic, all natural, and hens LOVE them! Get your copy here!
I might as well get out the riot gear, she loves them that much, and gets everyone else riled up.
Giving that hen a treat is one of the highlights of my day. She’s not my favorite hen, but she’s the most amusing.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately asking me about this very topic. It seems I’m not the only one who wants to give treats to my favorite hen!
Luckily, treats for your chickens are easy to come by – some are already in your garden!
Here’s some suggestions that make my chickens go crazy.
In this article, I use the word “treat” liberally – some of these treats you can give them every day (and probably should), while others are a “once in a while” treat.
Bugs from the garden
I get a lot of questions about bugs and chickens. What’s this bug? Can my hen eat it?
Lots of protein makes nice eggs!
Grubs and plant-munching caterpillars are favorites in my flock.
I do try to avoid giving them worms from the garden because I want the worms for my soil, but occasionally one does slip through to them.
My hen, Floppy Head (so named because her comb flops over) is partial to a big clump of dirt (for example, when I’ve begun to dig up a new bed) because she can dig and scratch through for whatever goodies she can find.
Floppy Head is a rescue from a big-industry chicken farm, so I like to think the hen is having the time of her life, for the first time in her life.
Give your chickens any bugs you find, and know you’re helping them do their job. To us, they’re gross bugs, but to a chicken they’re a tasty treat!
Sunflower seeds are a great treat to give your chickens, since they’re high in protein. This year, we’re growing a large garden of sunflowers so we can grow seeds for our chickens.
We have about a half-acre plot in front of a wooded area that we’re devoting to sunflowers, and I can’t wait to get started. We’re focusing on black oil sunflower seeds since we can also make cooking oil from them.
For now, until the seeds come in, we buy sunflower seeds from a feed store, and our chickens thank us with crazy and amusing antics.
Egg shells should be a regular part of your hens’ diet because of their calcium content.
When I started giving my big-industry rescue hen, Floppy Head, the extra boost in calcium, she started laying regularly again.
If you want to see hens riot, come to my place when I give them eggshells. Between Floppy Head and Big Red, I pretty much need riot gear.
Even the young roosters get in on it (though my rooster, Leedle, could hardly be expected to act so undignified).
I can’t tell you why they love them so much, but I love that the calcium in the shells makes good eggs with strong shells!
It seems backwards (and I’ve gotten a couple emails from people who’ve wondered if giving a hen eggs to eat is cannibalism), but eggs are a treat my chickens love.
You can give them eggs alone, or include the shells along with the scrambled eggs. Your chickens can pick through to eat whichever they want.
When my chickens see I have eggs for them, they come running (I’ve even gotten bit a few times by an over eager hen or two!)
There’s folks out there with mealworm farms, and they’re easy to start and maintain, requiring little work. Mealworms eat oatmeal and vegetables, such as carrots.
You don’t need much room to start a mealworm farm, making it an easy choice for suburban homesteads that want to be a little more self-sufficient.
Your neighbors will never know there’s mealworms in plastic bin. I won’t tell. I promise.
It’s not quite watermelon this season, but this summer, consider giving your girls half a watermelon to pick at. Some chickens don’t do well in heat, so a watermelon is a good way to avoid overheating.
They’ll love it, and the watermelon juice will keep them hydrated and busy.
If you have chickens that live in an enclosed area, I’m sure boredom can be a factor, and something like a watermelon can deter boredom (and picking on each other).
I used to have a hen that didn’t do so well in the heat, and watermelon cheered her up!
Is there something you feed your chickens that they go wild over? Leave me a comment!
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.