5 High Protein Treats For Backyard Chickens

5 High Protein Treats For Backyard Chickens

Winter is here….and although most backyard chickens weather winter well, you might find yourself worrying about whether they’re getting enough protein.

Your flock’s feathers are critical to their health during the winter. Feathers serve some important purposes, including protection from the wind AND keeping your backyard chickens warm. So, providing your hens a diet that’s high in protein is critical.

While most commercial feeds have 16% protein, you might want your flock to get even more protein so even the coldest days won’t effect them. In this article, I’m going to show you lots of different high protein options that both chickens and ducks love! There’s something for every backyard chicken on this list, and most of these treats also have important vitamins and minerals too!

Brewer’s Yeast

It’s not something you typically associate with protein, but brewer’s and nutritional yeast is FULL of protein – they’re both about 40% protein. You can mix brewer’s yeast with your flock’s regular feed, or with a special treat you’ve created for them (such as the eggs or black soldier fly larvae above).

It’s probably best to mix it with something else. It’s full of protein but also powdery – so adding it to food with texture will help your chickens enjoy their treat more. You can buy it in our store, and it’s mixed with garlic, oregano, and echinacea – all herbs traditionally used to support healthy immune systems in chickens.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Black soldier fly larvae are about 40% protein, and hens LOOOOOOVE them! You can buy them dried right here or you can create your own farm – they’re remarkably easy to farm, and they’ll live in anything.

(Recently, we discovered a BSFL farm in my truck bed, where some grain had spilled. Totally disgusting and proof they’ll hatch anywhere. We had NO idea they established residence until some torrential downpours caused them to jump ship. Let’s just say the hens were VERY happy for a few days).

If farming black soldier fly larvae isn’t your deal, then you can always go with dried ones – hens love them either way!

Dried River Shrimp

Like black soldier fly larvae, dried river shrimp are full of protein. The nice thing about shrimp is they’re very easy for tiny beaks to consume, so if your chickens aren’t quite adults yet (or if you have baby chicks), you might find shrimp are easier for them to eat.

Ducks in particular love shrimp (I think more than other treats), and mine really love when we float dried river shrimp on water for them. In fact, we named one of our most recent ducklings “Hoover” because he eats the shrimp so fast! You can buy dried river shrimp right here.

Quinoa

You might not think of quinoa when you think about treats for chickens, but it’s full of protein, and when cool, makes a great high protein treat. I cook my chickens and ducks quinoa before feeding it to make it easier to digest, which in turn makes the protein and nutrients more bioavailable.

Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein per cup, and it’s also full of magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese. Just make sure it’s 100% cool before offering it to your flock.

Kale

Yep, kale uis very high in protein, and it might break up some long winter days when your flock refuses to leave the coop. It’s also full of vitamins and minerals! An easy way to provide kale for your backyard chickens is to hang the leaves in the coop. Your flock can pick at the leaves, and once they’re done, it’s easy to remove.

For ducks, it’ll be easier to float the kale on water for them. Because of their round bills, ducks sometimes struggle to pick up leaves. Kale has 2 g of protein per cup.

Fluffiest Feathers Ever!

We carry this dietary supplement in our store. It’s 28% protein, and chickens LOVE it. We feed it separately or sometimes mixed with their feed, and it doesn’t stay in their feed bowl very long! You can learn more about Fluffiest Feathers Ever right here.

Chickens, Frostbite, & Care

Chickens, Frostbite, & Care

Chickens, frostbite, and cold. These three things don’t necessarily all mix well, do they?

Yes, chickens can get frostbite, and yes, they can spring back from it. Every year on our farm, we have to tackle frostbite on combs, wattles, and the occasional toe.

 

You’d think living in the South, we wouldn’t have chickens getting injured from the chilly temperatures. It’s typically in the 30s and 40s here in the winter!

 

It’s not very much fun, but it’s just one of those parts of chicken ownership. And honestly, we’ve not had any chickens effected long term by it.

 

This article is an excerpt from my book Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock You can buy it on Amazon or directly from me (and get the digital version free).

Worried your chickens are suffering from frostbite? Frostbite treatment is easy when you can spot it. Here's what you need to know.

Most of the chickens just go on about their business.

 

If your chickens free range and aren’t kept in a coop during cold temperatures, they’re even more susceptible to frostbite, so it’s important to observe them daily.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you what frostbite in chickens looks like, when to call the vet, and how to help chickens when they do become victims of frostbite.

 

The information below is for informational purposes only and isn’t meant to treat, diagnose, or cure. Use your best judgement and always seek a vet’s advice first.

 

Worried your chickens are suffering from frostbite? Frostbite treatment is easy when you can spot it. Here's what you need to know.

 

What exactly is frostbite & how do I know if my chickens are effected?

In case you’re not 100% sure what it is, here’s a working definition of frostbite (chickens, humans, etc) from Wikipedia:

 

Frostbite is when exposure to low temperatures causes freezing of the skin or other tissues. The underlying mechanism involves injury from ice crystals and blood clots in small blood vessels following thawing.”

 

It’s hard to give an exact temperature when frostbite is an issue for chickens. Just’s just going to depend. In our area, it’s very cold temperatures of below 20 degrees where we’ve had the most trouble.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

The thing about frostbite that’s a problem for chickens

With frostbite, there’s an extra quirk. It’s not just about cold temperatures.

 

Unlike conditions like hypothermia, frostbite occurs not just when temperatures are very low, but more often when there’s cold temperatures plus moisture.

 

Yep, good ol’ moisture. Those extra bits of water droplets freeze on the skin, causing more damage than cold temps alone.

 

Which means that when our chickens drink water (aka dunk their wattles in the water), and can’t get dry (or run away when we try to help them dry), their tiny bodies are more susceptible to frostbite.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

Signs of frostbite in chickens

The first thing to remember about frostbite and chickens is the condition doesn’t always present in a dramatic way. It might just be a spot here or there on the comb, rather than effecting the entire area. 

 

Worried your chickens are suffering from frostbite? Frostbite treatment is easy when you can spot it. Here's what you need to know.

 

And it can also be extreme, with blackened areas that have clearly gone necrotic.

 

Symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Dark or blackened areas on the comb, wattles, or feet
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Limping
  • Lying down/not wanting to stand

 

It’s easy to confuse frostbite with fowl pox since they can look similar from blackened areas, but it’s important to also consider the season.

 

Chickens are unlikely to get frostbite in the summer, for example. Fowl pox, which also effects the combs and wattles, also looks more raised and scabby.

 

(You can see photos of fowlpox right here)

 

It’s also possible to confuse frostbite with bumblefoot, since both can cause the pads of the feet to swell.

 

While there’s varying degrees of frostbite, what I’ve observed in chickens is that their skin will turn either white or black (depending on severity), and in extreme cases turn black, harden, and start to curl.

 

Worried your chickens are suffering from frostbite? Frostbite treatment is easy when you can spot it. Here's what you need to know.

 

At the point of hardening and curling, it’s likely the skin on your chickens’ combs and/or wattles has died (confirm this with a vet, however).

 

Toes and feet are relatively rare victims of cold weather here, although in other areas of the USA, it’s a frequent occurrence. (If toes or feet are involved, you can follow the procedures below.)

 

Just remember that if this happens to your chickens, it’s not the end of their lives unless it goes untreated.

 

In nearly all of the cases of frostbite we’ve had on our farm, it’s been mild enough that the skin returns to normal and the chickens are perfectly fine, although it can take a while for the skin to return completely back to normal – it’s been damaged after all!

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

Preventing frostbite

First, let’s talk about how to prevent frostbite because it’s relatively easy as long as you can catch your chickens.

 

Petroleum jelly is approved by the Food And Drug Administration as a skin protectant, and that’s because – you guessed it – it protects skin.

 

Basically, it acts as a barrier between your chickens’ body and the cold and/or wind. If your chickens drink, it will help keep water off their wattles, which also helps prevent frostbite.

 

We apply it when we get cold snaps, and daily until the temperatures rise.

 

In addition, keeping your chickens inside on particularly cold days or chilly, wet days will reduce the chances your chickens will suffer from frostbite. It’s generally a good idea anyway, since freezing rain can kill your chickens.

 

If your flock keeps getting frostbite because they dunk their wattles in water, then you can change to a different type of waterer, or raise their water dishes off the ground.

 

For feet, you can put straw on the ground in their coop and run, which is a great insulator.

 

Worried your chickens are suffering from frostbite? Frostbite treatment is easy when you can spot it. Here's what you need to know.

How help chickens with frostbite

This is what we do on our farm. Use your best judgement to determine what’s best for your flock.

 

To help chickens effected by frostbite, first bring the area of concern (combs, wattles, limbs, etc) lukewarm water.

 

It’s important not to warm them too quickly (which can cause nerve damage), so bring your chickens inside and allow them to get warm.

 

For combs and wattles, you can apply warm water with a cloth until you see circulation return and the area feels warm or “normal.” For feet, you can place them in lukewarm water until you see circulation return.

 

Apply an antibacterial ointment (natural or pharmaceutical) to help the skin become healthy and ward off infections.

 

Place them in a crate in a quiet area with a towel, food, and water and keep them inside until the very cold has passed or your chickens seem back to normal.

 

If the damage is severe, it’s best to consult a vet. Even a vet inexperienced with chickens can provide advice since the procedure won’t be that different than helping any other domestic animal.

 

If you think your chickens might have an infection or need to lose a limb from frostbite damage, you should consult with a veterinarian who can advise you whether the effected area should be removed (again, even a vet inexperienced with chickens can advise you best.)

 

In my book Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, I show you how to care for your chickens so they stay healthy, regardless of the season, and there’s detailed information about chickens, frostbite, and the cold. You can get your copy here.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

Homemade Car De-Icer Spray That’s Ridiculously Easy To Make

Homemade Car De-Icer Spray That’s Ridiculously Easy To Make

Homemade car de-icer spray is so easy to make that you’ll never have to buy the commercial stuff again.

 

Most places in the US are under snow – it’s a fact. And it’s something that makes me miserable, especially since it forces me to take a few extra steps before I can head out to the feed store. 

 

Like having to rid my windshield of all that ice that’s cramping my style. 

 

Well, you’re going to love my homemade car de-icer spray. And with just two ingredients, you’ll love how simple it is to make a homemade deicer for cars.

 

Alright, so how do you make a homemade car de-icer spray anyway?

 

First, grab a spray bottle. A clean, new one is best to make sure it doesn’t have any residue in it, but if you don’t have one, then clean yours the best you can.

homemade car de-icer spray

The spray bottle is necessary to hit as much space as possible on your windshield. Why make more work than necessary, right?

 

Fill the bottle up ¼-1/3rd of the way with water.

 

Next, add isopropyl alcohol (yes, the same thing you can buy at any pharmacy for about $1) until the entire bottle is full.

 

Homemade car de-icer spray

 

Shake vigorously until your homemade deicer is blended.

 

The next time you’re dealing with an icy windshield, spray liberally on the window.

 

Wait just a few moments, and you’ll start to see the ice begin to break up and start to melt.

 

Grab your scraper and get to work. The de-icer spray will work quickly!

 

homemade car de-icer spray

 

Your homemade car de-icer spray will also work on your locks.

 

Be sure to keep a bottle in your house and also in your car in case you’re out and about and find yourself needing it. The homemade car de-icer spray does not go bad or freeze, so just leave it in your car in case you need it.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you ever made a homemade car de-icer spray? Will you now? Leave a comment below!

 

Alcohol photo by: Craig Spurrier – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2000593

More Winter Tips and Resources:

 

Non-Toxic homemade car de-icer spray is so easy to make that you’ll never have to buy the commercial stuff again. Here's an easy-to-repeat recipe!


You’ve heard apple cider vinegar is healthy for both humans and chickens…but do you know how to make it? If you’ve been dying to try and want expert guidance, you’ll love this 15-minute video.

Click here to learn more about how to make apple cider vinegar.


 

Keep Your Chicken’s Water From Freezing (Without Electricity)

Keep Your Chicken’s Water From Freezing (Without Electricity)

Let’s face it. It’s pretty hard to keep your chicken’s water from freezing without electricity in the winter.

 

When the cold arrives, I struggle to keep water from turning into a frozen block.

 

And without a water heater? Just that much more difficult.

 

I know many of you are worrying about how to keep your chicken’s water from freezing without electricity this winter, so I wanted to share some tricks that have worked for me.

 

These tips will also work well if you have ducks, turkeys, quail, or any other kind of poultry.

 

So, if you’re worried about how to keep poultry water from freezing, remember that these tips aren’t just for chicken water!

 

Chickens- Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock AD (1)-min

 

Use a big water tub

 

Typically, the larger the bowl is, the longer it takes to freeze. With our 40 gallon rubber water troughs, they rarely freeze in winter.

 

If the top freezes, below that layer of nice usually rests unfrozen water. I just use the heel of my boot (assuming there’s no cracks in them!) to break the surface ice.

 

You can scoop it out and refill the tub so your hens don’t run the risk of falling in as they try to drink.

 

Using a large waterer to keep your chickens water from freezing isn’t always realistic, especially with younger chickens (such as pullets) that can’t balance well on the edge and might fall in.

 

But if your flock is older and they’re able to not get themselves into deadly situations, then using a large tub is one way to prevent freezing.

 

Use rubber or plastic water dishes

 

I mentioned above that rubber waterers are best for winter, and in most cases, it’s true.

 

Rubber conducts cold less efficiently than stainless steel, and it will take longer for your chicken’s water to turn into a solid block of ice. Rubber bowls also tend to be less expensive than stainless steel.

 

Plastic is another option although in my experience, it doesn’t retain heat from the sun as efficiently as rubber.

 

Which brings us to….

 

Black water tubs

 

As we all know, black absorbs the sun’s rays better than any other color out there.

 

So, black rubber water tubs are more likely to keep your chickens water from freezing without electricity than probably anything else out there.

 

If you’re not 100% sure how to keep your chicken water from freezing, then relying on heat from the sun is definitely more cost efficient than buying an electric water heater (and potentially safer).

 

Dark blue, purple, or burgundy would work as well, but steer clear of lighter colors.

 

Ping Pong Balls

 

I’ve had marginal success with this, but other people swear by it, so I wanted to mention it.

 

You can grab a packet of ping pong balls at your local dollar store and float them on the top of the water.

 

The idea is that as the wind moves the surface of the water, the continued movement of the ping pong balls will keep your chicken’s water from freezing.

 

Now, you’ll be relying on the breeze to do the work for you. And if your water tub isn’t deep, the ping pong balls will get stuck as the water freezes around it.

 

So, it’s worth a shot, but you might want to use the ping pong balls in conjunction with a black rubber tub.

 

Ducks

 

Believe it or not, if you keep ducks, they’re pretty good at keeping your chicken’s water from freezing.

 

Ducks automatically want to splash and play in water – keeping the surface constantly moving so it can’t turn into ice.

 

Again, a deep dish is required, and you will have to keep it full because your ducks will want to dunk their heads and bills into the water.

 

In most cases, the ducks will be fine if they get wet – they have down! And unless they’re young, they can figure out when to stop.

 

Hand warmers

 

I’ve successfully used commercial hand warmers (the kind you don’t open until ready to use) with small stainless-steel mason jar waterers.

 

In this case, using stainless steel waterers works best because the metal will conduct heat from the warmers, keeping the water just above freezing temperatures.

 

Just stick the heater below the metal bottom, and replace as needed.

 

If you have quail or smaller chickens that require only a mason jar waterer, this solution works well, particularly since smaller waterers will freeze much quicker.

 

Starting off with hot water

 

If you’re going to be gone part of the day and want to make sure your flock has access to fresh water for longer, you can give them hot H20 when you fill their dish.

 

Just make sure it’s not boiling, otherwise your hens might burn themselves.

 

If, throughout the day, you notice their water turning to ice, then refill the bucket with hot water.

 

You can also do this at night, although chickens are less likely to drink water in the dark, since they’ll want to get some shut eye.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you been worried about how to keep your chicken’s water from freezing without electricity this winter? Which of these ideas will you try? Leave a comment below!

 

Keep your chickens water from freezing this winter with these genius hacks!