6 Brilliant Gift Ideas For Your Chickens

6 Brilliant Gift Ideas For Your Chickens

Today we are going to talk about the top five gifts for your chickens!

It may seem like giving gifts for your chickens is somewhat frivolous, but if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I support chicken toys!!! I think that they’re a good idea. Even though on the surface they seem frivolous and maybe a little bit ridiculous, at the same time, they do serve a very important purpose when it comes to your flock.

Why should you get gifts for your chickens?

As we know, chickens are very bright. They are smart creatures and given the right circumstances, things can turn into a Lord of the Flies situation very, very quickly. One concern that regularly comes up on the blog is what to do about chickens that pick on each other or develop bad habits. It is something that does happen!

Chicken toys can be way to avert those bad behaviors. It’s a way to distract your chickens from developing those bad behaviors. When winter comes and the chickens tend to be in the coop more, bad behaviors (such as picking feathers, or picking on others) can set in very easily. And that can make your life difficult.

So let’s talk about different toys you can get for your chickens that they will definitely appreciate this winter. Also just remember that even though we’re talking about things you can buy in this post, we’re also going to go over how to make them at home so you don’t have to spend money on them!

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Chicken Swings

The very first chicken toy product I wanted to talk about are chicken swings. Now chicken swings probably get the worst rap for being a frivolous item to purchase for your chickens. But chickens really do seem to enjoy them! What your chickens can do on the chicken swings is they can perch on it and they realize very quickly that they can use their weight to make the swing go back and forth. Chickens are smart right?

And to them is something entertaining to do, much like swinging on the swings is entertaining for kids (and adults too!)

It gives them something to distract them from the boredom of being in the coop all day. Now there are a lot of different options for chicken swings out there and there’s no one particular project that I support. To me a chicken swing is a chicken swing. So I advise you to go ahead and pick the one that works best for you. You can find a chicken swing online right here: Fowl Play Products Chicken Swing

DIY Chicken Swing

Now let’s talk a little bit about how to make a chicken swing at home. Because as I’m sure you can imagine, these are actually not that difficult to make. And there is a little bit of an advantage to making it at home, which is that you can use naturally found items.

On our farm I’ve found that using natural perches such as branches or logs does a really good job as a natural perch and the chickens seem to like it. I like how it lends a more natural look for our coops and runs.

So when it comes to a chicken swing, go ahead and use a naturally found twig, branch, or wood! You will want to make sure that the branch you choose is fairly wide. Chickens don’t wrap their toes around perches, like other birds do. They tend to sit more flat footed so using a thicker circumference branch or log is a really good place to start.

Now to make your chicken swing all you need to do is drill a hole in each end vertically on the log so that you’re able to put string or rope through it. I recommend using a thicker rope or twine, so that you can easily knot it after you put the string through your holes. You can tie it similar to how this old fashioned swing was tied in the photo below.

 

I suggest using rope as opposed to something like chain. If you use something like a chain your chickens might get caught in it. Because let’s face it chickens are masters at getting into trouble.

So I do suggest using something like rope because it’s more solid and they’re not going to get hurt as easily in it. Just have enough length of that rope so that it can get off the ground. I would definitely suggest keeping it close enough to the ground so that they still have access to it easily and it’s in their daily line of vision.

Xylophone

Now the next item on our list is a xylophone. I’m talking about those children’s xylophones that have a lot of different colors on them. And obviously it’s a musical instrument so it makes noise. You’ve probably seen that video going viral on Facebook that shows chicken playing with a xylophone.

I really this idea because chickens are very motivated by color. They do see color and they can distinguish colors and they seem to enjoy the idea of making music or at least entertaining themselves with the different tones of the notes.

This is something that we are definitely going to try this winter. I can see it be it being a mental exercise for them, an opportunity for them to exercise their intelligence and also just a way to distract them from the boredom. And it maybe if you spent some time training them you might end up having some musical chickens on your hands;)

I do suggest going with a xylophone that has different colors on it because chickens are attracted to the different colors and I could see it just being a lot more entertaining to them than the noise itself. 

Here are some options for xylophones on the web:

Now unfortunately, this is the one item on our list that I can’t really tell you how to make because I really don’t know how to make a xylophone. If you don’t want to buy one and if you have one hanging around, you can easily repurpose it as a chicken toy for your coop. Or you could check out local thrift stores to see if you could find one there!

Nesting Herbs

Now the third present for your chickens on our list are actually my Frugal Chicken nesting herbs. Basically what this product is, is its the herbs that I give my own chickens. It’s a custom blend that I’ve put together specifically because I believe that these are the herbs that you know help your chickens be healthy.

Now one of the reasons I chose herbs is because they are specifically geared towards helping you raise healthy chickens. The way you use the product is you sprinkle the herbs in their nesting boxes. As your hens are laying their eggs, they’re going to pick at the herbs. So they’ll get the healthy benefits of it.

You can mix herbs into their feed (depending on the herb). Either way will work very very well.

Now if you do want to make this at home, all that you need to do is go ahead and buy the herbs separately and then just go ahead and mix them all together. Or if you happen to have them growing on your farm, that would be perfect to! My chicken nesting box herbs are all organic so if you have an organic farm, you can easily recreate these at home. 

I also sell lots of yummy treats for your hens too! One of my favorites is my Bee A Happy Hen Treat Mix. It’s a mix of bee pollen granules, hard red wheat berries, peppermint, parsley, mealworms, and rose petals. No joke, your hens will LOVE it! You can find it in our store right here.

Hanging Treat Basket

Now the next product on our list is MannaPro’s Mealworm Medley and a hanging basket to put the block into. Now the mealworm medley is,  basically just a block of chicken treat. So it’s a single block about three inches by three inches and the nice thing about it is you can just put it in a hanging basket. It doesn’t last very long in my coop because my chickens love it so much!

It gives your chickens an extra treat that’s full of nutrients, protein, and vitamins that are good for them! But it also helps them mentally because they’re able to peck at and hunt at it. So that’s why I really like the MannaPro Mealworm Medley. So if you did want to go ahead and get the mealworm medley, go to the thefrugalchicken.com/medley

You definitely also want to get a hanging basket. It’s a heavy duty wire basket, that lets you suspend the treat, so that your chickens can peck at it and so that it doesn’t get dirty. 

You can also make the treat for the hanging basket from home! On the blog I have an article for making your own homemade suet treats that you can easily put into a hanging basket.

I love this recipe because the coconut oil has a lot healthy fats in it for them and you can pick the ingredients you want to put in there. So you can put in sunflower seeds, mealworms, their regular feed, corn, or whatever works for you and your flock. 

During the winter you don’t have to worry about the coconut oil melting.  Coconut oil has a 77 degree melting point and in most places it is much colder than that in the winter!

Treats

Now obviously, we just talked about some treats for your chickens, but I wanted to talk about some other options you can give your chickens!

One option is mealworms. I rely heavily on mealworms for my chickens. They love them and it gives like them that extra little bit of spark because they are hunting something. I’m not sure what it is about mealworms, but there’s something about them that my chickens get all excited about. They hear the mealworms, they smell them, they are just all over it. It’s kind of insane! You can pick up some mealworms from the store right here: Mealworms-LoveBugs For Hens

On the blog we have tons of free treat recipes that you can make at home for your chickens. Some of my favorite are: Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats, Frozen Beef Tallow Treats (for summer), 5 High Protein Treats For Fall, Lavender Treat Mix, and Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne & Wormwood Deworming treat

You can also check out my book “Cluck Cakes” that has tons of treat recipes for your chickens!

We also have tons of treat options in the store such as:

Treat Dispenser

Since we’re talking about treats, the final gift for your chickens on our list is a treat dispenser.  If you haven’t seen them, they work a little bit like Kongs for dogs in the sense that you can put the treat in it and your chickens have to figure out how to get the treat out. Once they figure out what it does, they’re going to play with it a lot!

The one that I like is this one from Manna Pro: Manna Pro Treat Dispenser

But you can also easily make this at home with something like an old soda bottle or an old water bottle. All you need to do is poke some holes in the old water bottle, put the treats in the top, and then screw the lid back on. Then your chickens will try and peck the treats out of the holes! So that’s a very, very simple way to make it at home with products you probably already have on hand!

You can put whatever you want in your treat dispenser! I would stick with dry foods though, so that it doesn’t get messy and gross. You can put corn in there, you can put mealworms in there, oats, calendula, or anything else you feel would work for your flock.

That’s all for today folks! Are you going to buy your chickens gifts this year? If so, what are you going to give them?

Ducklings That Spontaneously Reproduce?? Confessions From The Coop (TM)

Ducklings That Spontaneously Reproduce?? Confessions From The Coop (TM)

So, either I can’t count, or the ducklings are spontaneously reproducing.

 

I’ll swear on the Bible that there were only 10 ducklings when they hatched, but they finally slowed down long enough yesterday for me to do a head count.

 

And there’s 11. Not 10.

 

So, I’m the proud owner of 16 ducks. Which is a LOT of quacking.

 

Some of the ducklings are starting to have voice changes – and at least 1 is developing a deeper, louder, more insistent quack.

 

If you don’t know, these quacks indicate they’re female. So, we might have a hen or two in the clutch!

 

I can’t believe all the different colors they are. I figured since the eggs were mostly khaki campbell and the drake is the same breed, they would all look like the parent stock.

 

Let’s just say they didn’t breed true, LOL.

 

We clean out and refill their pool twice a day, so twice a day, they have a good swim.

 

We’ve also been giving them lots of mealworms and shrimp to help them grow. They devour them, and LOVE that the treats float on water.

 

The Fluffy Butts Keep Escaping!

This weekend, we’re tackling adding trusses and a roof to my chicken run.

 

The fluffy butts keep getting out!

 

One night, we had LOTS of rain. While I’m sure the ducks were happy, a couple hens refused to return before night fall….and are regretting their waterlogged decision this morning!

 

They were more than happy to run into the coop for breakfast, LOL! They’re fine, just wet, and it’s still 90 degrees here. There’s PLENTY of places for them to get out of the rain on the farm besides the coop.

 

We’ve been giving them lots of Best Eggs Ever! and Fluffiest Feathers Ever! to help the hens lay again now that it’s not so hot all the time (herbs + calcium + protein = happy hen) – and it seems to be working!

 

Might We Have A Mouse As A Pet??

Feeding the chickens this morning, I kept hearing loud squeaks! It sounded like baby rabbits in some serious distress, so I searched the area and found a baby mouse that’s injured.

 

Now, I’m not a fan of mice. BUT I’m also not a fan of watching young animals suffer and not do anything about it.

 

The mouse is old enough that it should be weaned, so currently, it’s in a bucket of alfalfa, drying off (it rained ALL last night and the mouse is soaked – another reason I didn’t want to leave it).

 

Once it’s dry, we can see how injured it is. Fingers crossed it’s just a momentary thing, and we can release it later today.

 

Otherwise, we might have a pet mouse. Not that I want one.

 

We’ve been giving it Fluffiest Feathers Ever! – it seemed to like it and maybe it’ll grow fluffier fur?? LOL!

Homemade Suet Cakes For Chickens: Great Boredom Busters!

Homemade Suet Cakes For Chickens: Great Boredom Busters!

Crafting homemade suet cakes for chickens is a simple way to boost the fat in your flock’s diet while giving them a way to stay occupied.

 

In fact, a frequent question I get is “Can chickens eat suet cakes?,” and not only is the answer a definitive “YES!” but feeding diy suet cakes to chickens can help reduce bad behavior and stress from being confined in a coop all day.

 

It’s summer, so right now I’m making suet cakes to help my chickens stay cool.

 

And they’re a total hit!


While my hens otherwise look like they’re ready to melt and are completely miserable as they try to stay cool in our 100+ degree heat, when they catch sight of their suet cakes, the light comes back in their eyes as they realize they’re about to have a blast.

 

Needless to say, as soon as I drop the treats in their chicken feeders, it’s game on.

 

I like to use coconut oil when I make homemade suet cakes for chickens because it’s good for them (with good antibacterial qualities), it’s malleable, and it holds the corn, oats, and other things I add fairly well.

 

It’s also a nice source of healthy fat, particularly in winter, when you need to worry more about their calorie intake in the cold.

 

If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can make homemade suet cakes with bacon grease or other grease leftover from cooking.

 

You can use grease by itself, but I like to mix it with coconut oil (especially good for winter, when the extra protein will help them out).

 

Remember, however, that these are treats – not a replacement for a good basic diet.

 

Although I can guarantee your chickens will love your homemade suet and come running whenever they see you have them!
This is the best homemade suet cake for chickens recipe I’ve found that will help your chickens improve their health while providing a treat, and I’m happy to share it with you!

What should you add to homemade suet cakes for chickens?

 

You can pretty much add anything that’s fine for chickens to eat. Some easy choices are:

  • Corn
  • Oatmeal
  • Chopped unsalted peanuts
  • Dry peas
  • Wheat berries
  • Lentils
  • Flax seeds (improves omega-3s in eggs)
  • Sunflower seeds (high in fat)

 

I like to add more corn and peanuts in the winter for an energy boost to help them through the night.

 

Another option is to add pea sprouts, microgreens, etc, which is especially easy to do if you use coconut oil.

 

You can also add fresh or dry herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme are good options that are also easy to source.

What shape should homemade suet cakes be?

 

As for shape, you have a few options.

 

I like to use a muffin tin; we have a lot of chickens, and a single large block would get eaten by the few, leaving the rest of our chickens wanting.

 

So, the muffin tin makes sure everyone gets a piece of the suet cakes.

 

You can also use a shallow pan, or anything that fits easily into your freezer.

How to make homemade suet cakes for chickens

 

Grab a muffin tin or pan

If using a pan, make sure it’s deep enough to accommodate all the coconut oil you plan to use.

 

Melt the coconut oil over low heat, just until melted (especially important if using sprouts)

Coconut oil has a melting point of 77 degrees, so it only needs to be warmed until it starts to melt. Any more, and you might destroy some of the beneficial properties of the oil, as well as potentially cooking some of your additives (and altering their nutrients).

 

This is particularly key if you plan to use sprouts – when they’re fresh, sprouts have more nutrients. But if they cook in hot oil, your chickens will enjoy them less.

 

Stir in whatever you’re adding

I like using regular oatmeal. People always seem to give it to us, and this is a simple way to use it up that’s also a nice treat for our backyard chickens.

 

Grind or chop up whatever you’re adding to your homemade suet cakes to make sure the entire block doesn’t crumble, and if you use peanuts, make sure they’re unsalted.

 

You can also alter your recipe depending on the season, adding more corn in the winter when energy is important, and flax seeds in the summer when they’re laying eggs again.

 

Pour mixture into muffin tins

Fill to the top, since the coconut oil won’t really expand in the cold. You can add some extra oatmeal or corn on the top as well.

 

Remember that the muffin pan will be hot (especially if you let the coconut oil get hotter than 77 degrees), so be careful picking it up and moving it.

 

Freeze until solid

Time will vary depending on your freezer. I like to make homemade suet cakes for chickens in the evening, then let them freeze overnight.

 

Invert pan to remove the homemade suet cakes

If you need to, you can run a knife around the edge of the pan, but I’ve found that’s less effective than simply turning the pan over and tapping on the bottom.

 

Feed and watch your chickens enjoy!

Remember that coconut oil has a low melting point, so don’t remove them from the freezer until you’re actually ready to feed them.

 

I’ve found they start to melt as soon as I bring them outside. 

 

Making homemade suet cakes is easy – and it’s a good way to fight boredom, reduce bad behaviors, and make sure your hens are getting extra calories!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll try making homemade suet cakes for chickens? Leave a comment below!

4 Ingredient Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola”

4 Ingredient Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola”

Who doesn’t love chamomile? I do, you do, and I guarantee your chickens do!

 

And chamomile is the star of Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola.”

 

And I tell you, hens LOVE this treat! My hens love digging in and testing each bit!

 

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is wonderful for hens because, as you probably know, it has qualities that help hens relax.

 

And since relaxation and a sense of security is important to getting the best eggs possible out of your hens, you can imagine how important chamomile is to your herbal medicine chest!

Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola” backyard chicken treat

 

 

This treat is a great go-to recipe if your chickens are nervous (if a hawk was flying above or the neighbors dog came over for a “visit”), and you want them to come out of their hiding places, relax, and feel safe again.

 

You can find chamomile to buy in the shop right here, and it’s the exact same herbs that I used in this recipe.

 

Corn is also a big part of this treat, and my hens have a ball poking around and trying to find every last kernel!

 

You can use dried ground, chopped, or whole corn kernels. If you do use whole kernels (which chickens love, by the way), the recipe adjusts slightly.

 

 

 

Although I haven’t tried, if you add egg and water, you can probably make this into “cornmeal muffins” your hens will adore.

 

This recipe also features our old friend, dried black soldier fly larvae, which hens also love! (As if I had to remind you!)

 

If you don’t have black soldier fly larvae on hand, mealworms or any other dried insect are a great substitute. Mine go bonkers for both.

 

I’ve included kale in Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola” because kale has lots of great vitamins and minerals for chickens.

 

Plus, hens love greens! You can use either fresh or freeze dried kale. We usually go for freeze dried kale because the nutrient content is still high AND it’s shelf stable.

 

A treat like this is perfect before bedtime if it’s winter in your area or as a mid-day treat when the days aren’t too hot – so perfect for spring.

 

All you need to do is put out a bowl with the “granola” in it and let your chickens have at it.

 

I hope your hens enjoy this as much as mine do!

 

Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola” for chickens

How To Make Chamomile & Black Soldier Fly Larvae “Granola.”

 

Ingredients (per chicken):

¼ c dried, Non-GMO Corn (ground, chopped) — use ½ cup if whole corn kernels

Chamomile – 2 tbsp (Buy in my store here)

Black Soldier Fly Larvae – ¼ cup (Buy in my store here)

Kale – ¼  cup  — use freeze dried or fresh kale

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a chicken-safe dish. You can scatter the “granola” to make sure each hen gets a bite. Smaller flocks can eat out of the bowl together.

 

This isn’t a replacement for their regular feed, and should be part of a complete diet.

 

It’s a hit!

Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat!

Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat!

I’m so excited about this week’s treat for backyard chickens because it contains one of my favorite superfoods: BEE POLLEN!

 

Yep, you can feed bee pollen to chickens, and as I discuss below, it’s very healthy for your hens.

 

One of my favorite ways to share this treat with my hens is by offering it in the spring, when my flock starts to consistently lay again.

 

The ground is muddy (yuck), which means the amount of parasites and bad bacteria that flourish in wet environments SKYROCKETS.

 

As your chickens hunt and peck (and poop), they’re going to naturally pick up parasites. (They need to invent chicken shoes.)

 

It’s gross, and even grosser when you look at it under a microscope.

 

Who wants a mouthful of eggs teeming with salmonella and who knows what? Not me!

 

That’s why I included bee pollen in this week’s treat for backyard chickens. You’ll be surprised how healthy it is!

Bee Pollen for Backyard Chickens

We’re just starting to recognize the health benefits of bee pollen for humans, but believe it or not, it’s been pretty well studied for chickens.

 

In case you didn’t know, bee pollen is one of those “superfoods” that contains not just a ton of vitamins and minerals, but also more protein than meat!

 

Multiple studies have been done to examine the health impacts of feeding bee pollen to chickens.

And the results are pretty interesting (if you want to fast version: it’s really healthy.)

 

As a feed additive, bee pollen shows signs of being a powerful way to prevent parasites and bad bacteria while increasing the overall health of the chicken.

 

In one study, chickens fed 35 grams of bee pollen per 1 kilo of feed showed more beneficial bacteria in their guts – which means a healthier bird overall.

 

This same study also showed that bee pollen reduced the amount of bad bacteria – meaning that bee pollen showed antibacterial properties.

 

In particular, bee pollen was shown to reduce the amount of K. oxytoca, a bacterium that can cause sepsis and colitis in people.

Multiple studies have shown that chickens with higher amounts of beneficial bacteria not only GREW better (because they weren’t battling bad bacteria like campylobacter as much) but LAID healthier eggs (because the eggs were less likely to be transmitters of bad bacteria like salmonella).

 

In another study, bee pollen was shown to increase the length of villi in the digestive tracts of chickens.

 

In case you didn’t know, the villi in digestive tracts allow people and animals to absorb nutrients as we digest.

 

So, longer villi have more surface area, which can mean it’s easier for your chicken to absorb nutrients – which means she’ll be healthier.

 

It’s a small difference, but a crucial one.

 

It helps that chickens LOVE to peck at the tiny bits of bee pollen!

 

Peppermint, Rose, and Parsley, Oh My!

I’ve also included peppermint in this treat for a similar reason: Peppermint has strong antibacterial qualities while also helping to settle tummies.

 

Rose, as well, is known for it’s soothing and skin-healing properties (that’s why you see it in so many lotions for people).

 

My chickens particularly love rose because it’s red — for some reason, red is a popular color with hens!

 

Parsley is one of my favorite “hidden gems” — it’s a humble herb we’ve relegated to garnish status, but it’s full of vitamins!

 

So, as your hens enjoy eating the bee pollen, they’ll also get lots of extra nutrients from the parsley.

 

Don’t Forget The Mealworms!

And, of course, mealworms! You might find that your hens go for the mealworms first, but rest assured, they’ll finish off the rest of the ingredients as well!

 

If you’re ready to make this treat, then grab the recipe below!

Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat

Ingredients (per chicken):

½ tsp Bee pollen (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Peppermint (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Parsley (buy in the store here)

¼ cup Mealworms (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Rose buds (buy in the store here)

¼ cup Non-GMO Wheat Berries (buy in the store here)

 

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a bowl and offer immediately. Serve as part of a complete diet alongside grit.