Alternative Feed For Chickens: Best Ideas!

Alternative Feed For Chickens: Best Ideas!

If you’re looking for an alternative feed for chickens that won’t break the bank and will help support your healthy flock, then you’re in luck – there’s an abundance of surprising alternatives!

While your hens should always have a high-quality layer feed, you might find yourself without a bag one day (and the feed store might be closed) OR you might have table scraps you don’t want to toss. You also might want to make your own chicken feed.

Nutritious feed doesn’t need to come with a golden price tag, but it does need to satisfy the hunger cravings of your beloved flock and provide much-needed nutrients and vitamins.

Whether you want to craft your own chicken feed or just want to give your flock some treats, it’s always good to know what chickens eat! In this article, we’ll discuss the possible alternatives to your usual feed – and you might be surprised at our list of ingredients!

What Is The Best Food For Chickens?

The best chicken feed for laying hens is a high-quality 16% protein layer feed with a calcium supplement. For chicks (under 16 weeks), a high-quality 18% chick starter is best. The feed should have the required nutrition and vitamins for them to stay healthy and become consistent egg layers. Most commercial feeds make it easy. If you want to make your own layer feed, you can use my organic homemade chicken feed recipe here.

How To Feed Chickens Without Buying Feed

While I never really recommend this, there’s plenty you can feed chickens without actually having to buy feed. You can feed them table scraps (there’s a table below of what human food they can eat), grow food for them (we have a leafy green garden for our flock), or raise mealworms or black soldier fly larvae.

You can learn how to raise mealworms here and why black soldier fly larvae are healthy for chickens here.

If you have a “corn hookup” you can feed them dry corn as well. One of our neighbors is a farmer. One year, his crew spilled a LOT of corn on the ground. He didn’t want to clean it up, so he asked if we wanted it, LOL!

It’s best to feed a 16% protein layer feed however – you want your chickens to be healthy and lay eggs consistently. Nine times out of ten, when a reader emails me because her hens have stopped laying, diet is the reason why.

What Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can eat so many things – it’s probably easier to talk about what they CAN’T eat! Chickens especially seem to love protein – insects (alive or dead) are HUGE with backyard chickens. They also love seeds such as sunflower, wheat, or hemp seeds. Of course, fruits and vegetables are popular, too (especially corn)! As for leafy greens, it’s best to stick with lettuce, kale, and spinach.

Here’s a brief table of suggested treats for your chickens (not comprehensive):

Fruit Legumes Vegetables Seeds Proteins Dairy Grains
Berries Peanuts Spinach Sunflower Mealworms Milk Wheat
Cantaloupe Alfalfa Hay Tomatoes Flax Black Soldier Fly Larvae Greek Yogurt

(Plain)

Oats
Watermelon Peas Squash & Pumpkin Pumpkin Dried River Shrimp Cheese Rye
Bananas Clover Kale Hemp Eggs Whey Millet

What Can You Feed Chickens If You Run Out Of Feed?

Alternative feed for chickens if you’re out of feed are whole grains like wheat, corn, flax, cooked rice (NOT UNCOOKED!), and raw or cooked oatmeal. Protein-rich foods like cheese, plain greek yogurt, and sunflower seeds are also good choices. Most table scraps you have on hand will also be suitable as an alternative. Bugs like black soldier fly larvae (which are remarkably easy to cultivate), worms, and crickets are options as well. Just be sure to steer clear of beans!

What Do Chickens Eat Naturally?

What chickens eat naturally (and that will cost you next to nothing) is food you can produce in your backyard, such as green plants, vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Chickens will also naturally hunt for insects such as earthworms, slugs, grubs, black soldier fly larvae, and other creepy crawlies. This alternative feed for chickens is cost-effective, full of protein, and can be found in their natural habitat.

However, before attempting to use any of the above as dinner for your flock, you should be aware of what food can harm to your flock if you’re considering an alternative feed for chickens. Bad food such as salt, sugar, coffee, or liquor and any uncooked raw or dried beans, raw green potato skins (which can contain a poison called solanine). Onions also are a poor food to give to chickens.

What Scraps Not To Feed Chickens?

What foods are toxic to chickens? Well, plenty. For starters, chickens should never consume anything moldy or rotten because it can make them sick. The chart below lists various foods and scraps that chickens shouldn’t eat:

Vegetables Fruit Legumes Grains Other
Potato skins Avocado skins & pits Dried beans Dry rice Salt
Onions Apple seeds Uncooked beans Chocolate
Chards Peach pits Lots of sugar
Rhubarb leaves Coffee

What Is The Cheapest Way To Feed Chickens?

The cheapest alternative feed for chickens would be using table scraps that don’t include anything moldy or rotten. Other free chicken feed ideas are insects such as grubs, mealworms, or black soldier fly larvae (or crawfish, if they’re in your region). Mixing your own non-gmo organic chicken feed is another option, especially if you can bulk buy ingredients at a lower cost. We have an article about making your own homemade chicken feed here.

Do Chickens Need Food And Water At Night?

Chickens typically only eat food and drink water when they are awake during the day. At night, chickens prefer to roost and get some sleep. However, there’s nothing wrong with leaving food and water in the coop overnight (especially water) if you don’t have a rodent problem. You should always make sure the feed won’t attract predators. A chicken feeder that automatically closes at night is always a good option.

What Vitamins Are Good For Chickens?

Like people, chickens need all the vitamins they can get. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can produce numerous health problems for chickens (including poor egg production), so it’s important to feed them a balanced poultry diet enriched with vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, Biotin, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Choline, Folic Acid, and Pantothenic Acid. Also, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, phosphorus, and, manganese are important. Most commercial chicken feeds have all the vitamins and minerals your hens need. To ensure your flock has enough calcium to produce good eggshells, you can offer an additional supplement like oyster shells.

What Can I Grow For Chicken Feed?

You can grow garden cover crops such as alfalfa, clover, buckwheat, and annual rye. In your garden, you can grow tomatoes, leafy greens like kale or spinach, wheat (can be sprouted into fodder), bell peppers, sunchokes (boil and mash to feed), corn, and herbs. Just remember that you will need to feed your chickens year round, so if you want to grow feed for your chickens, have a plan to preserve some. Other chicken feed ingredients you can grow are wheat and millet.

If you’re wondering what to feed chickens to lay eggs, it’s important to give your flock plenty of protein. So, if you really want to grow your own chicken feed, it’s a good idea to also raise mealworms or other insects so your hens have plenty of protein.

How Much Should I Feed My Chickens?

Ideally, you should feed your chickens about 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Environmental conditions, such as whether it’s very hot or very cold, can also effect how much you should feed your flock. In the winter, you’ll likely want to increase their rations so they can produce enough body heat. If your flock isn’t laying eggs consistently, you’ll want to increase their diet, as well. Typically, chicken feed 50-pound bags are sold at stores to make it easier.

Are Oats Good For Chickens?

Yes! You’ll read varying opinions about this, but oats are perfectly fine to feed your flock. You can feed them dry or made into a mash. Quick oats and instant oats are fine as well – just make sure they’re plain, and without any extra preservatives or ingredients. During very cold nights, many owners make their chickens oatmeal to give them extra energy at night. In the summer, you can mix oatmeal into frozen suet cakes.

Will Chickens Eat Roaches?

A great alternative feed for chickens are bugs – chickens love them! While there are many critters hens love to eat, cockroaches are one of them! If you raise cockroaches, then you’re in for a treat. Chickens love chasing them, and they’re full of protein.

Is Peanut Butter Good For Chickens?

While peanut butter (natural, no salt, no added ingredients) is okay for chickens to eat, it’s not the best for them. A high-quality layer feed is better. However, there’s nothing in peanut butter that will hurt them, as long as it’s 100% natural with no salt or added ingredients. Honey is also healthy for chickens, so you can mix it with honey if you want!

Summary

There’s a lot of alternative feed options for backyard chickens. However, it’s important to make sure your flock has the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. Otherwise, you might not get as many eggs!

What’s your favorite alternative feed for chickens? Leave a comment below!

Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Healthy hens and roosters don’t come in baskets from storks. It takes the right kind of chicken feed to turn them into active clucking fluffy butts in your coop.

 

What is chicken feed called?

There are several types of chicken feeds. Starter feed is a protein dense variety of chicken feed designed to meet the dietary requirements of baby chicks. To complicate matters, there are varieties of chicken food known as starter/grower feed, which is essentially a type of feed that chickens can eat from 1-20 weeks of age.

 

Generally, chickens are to be fed depending on their growth development stage. 

 

For baby chicks a day old to 10 weeks starter feed should be crumbles or mash that contain 18% protein. Don’t be confused with crumbles and mash. Crumbles look like tiny pieces of granola while mash are finely ground chicken feed pellets. Both are easier to be consumed by chicks compared to huge pellets.

 

Eventually, they’ll start laying. Chicken layer feed would be similar to the textured mixture of crumbles, mash, and pellets. However, It needs at least 16% protein minimum, with added calcium. Layers need high protein chicken feed as well for more eggs. You also need to stay away from feeding onions, and other strong tasting foods to layers. They cause and undesirable taste to the eggs.

 

What do you feed chickens for tasting the best eggs?

We try different types of chicken feeds, but we feed them high quality layer feed and supplement it with our very own blend of natural herbs, oyster shells, garlic for immune boosting, and apple cider vinegar granules to balance gut pH and introduce beneficial bacteria. You can check it out here.

 

What do you feed a chicken?

The basis of any good chicken diet is a high quality poultry feed. We feed our girls a layer mash, which provides them with the right amount of protein and minerals to keep them laying eggs! In short, you can feed chickens:

  1. Layer pellets (16% protein)
  2. Dried insects like black soldier fly larvae or mealworms
  3. Vegetables (here’s a list of vegetables you can feed chickens)
  4. Fruits such as grapes, berries, and melons
  5. Grasses
  6. Seeds like wheat or millet

 

What is the best feed for chickens?

The best feed is high in protein, while providing all the nutrients chickens need. While there are a lot of commercial chicken feeds on the market, I still prefer non-GMO chicken feed. We’re proud to have the best chicken feed that can even give chickens fluffy feathers and produce the best eggs! Click here to know where to get chicken feed.

 

If you want to make your own homemade feed, just make sure it has essential chicken feed ingredients. You can read my favorite chicken feed recipe here.

 

How much do you feed a chicken per day?

A well known ballpark figure for estimating purpose is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Keep in mind that this is a ballpark figure, and you’ll need to watch your flock’s intake. If they gobble their feed quickly, and still seem hungry, offer more.

 

Do free range chickens need feed?

Yes. Even though they have access to pasture, you still need to give them poultry chicken feed to make sure they’re getting the right kind and enough nutrition.

 

Do chickens need food and water at night?

Chickens roost and sleep at night, and they won’t get up to eat and drink until it’s light again. However, you should always provide 24 hour access to water. Here’s a list of waterers we recommend.

 

How often should chickens be fed?

How often do you feed chickens is a very common question in growing backyard chickens. Food must be available to chickens whenever they need it. The full feeding method is a good technique to guarantee that there is constant supply of feed at all times. You can also use automatic feeders like these. We’ve also reviewed Duncan Feeder’s automatic feeders here.

 

How much food does a chicken need per day?

¼ cup of a high quality chicken feed. Best to offer free choice all day.

 

Can you overfeed chickens?

Everything must be taken in moderation. Overfeeding chicken is possible and they become obese especially if they’re confined to the coop. Free range hens however get enough exercise and are unlikely to be obese.

 

Do free range chickens need scratch? 

No. They don’t. Unless it’s winter and the ground is covered in snow.

 

Then there’s also grit. Grit is not feed, it’s rocks. Chickens need grit to help digest their feed. It’s their equivalent to teeth. Free fed chicken will find their way to grit in the form of tiny bits of stone and gravel but it would be helpful if you threw some in the coop or their feed too. 

 

Grit comes as flint and oyster shell. Oyster shell is soluble and it provides calcium which would be much used by layers in particular. It’s just like feeding chickens with eggshells.

 

What should you not feed chickens? What foods are poisonous to chickens?

While looking for alternative chicken feed, you might have considered beans. Although they look like something chickens would eat, dried and raw beans are a no-no. It contains phytohaemagglutinin which is fatal to chickens. Moldy fruits and vegetables aren’t good as Fowl feed too.

 

Caffeine is also toxic to chickens. Giving them a few pecks of chocolates would not cause too much harm but remember, chocolates are known to cause cardiac arrest in birds!

 

Other foods that are not good for chicken are:

  1. Processed food
  2. Raw potato peels and green potatoes
  3. Avocado skin and pit
  4. Raw meat
  5. Greasy food

 

You can see a list of what not to feed chickens here.

 

What scraps can chickens eat?

Some table scraps that are safe for chicken to consume are:

 

  1. Vegetables (cooked or raw)
  2. Fruits (leave the seeds out)
  3. Grain
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Corn (cooked, raw, and dried)
  6. Peas
  7. Bread
  8. Yogurt

 

Again, make sure that these foods are not moldy or spoiled. You might have also heard of feeding chicken expired yogurt. It’s not something to be frowned on. Feeding chicken yogurt helps even out chicken gut bacteria for a better digestion. You can also add a few tablespoons of yogurt when fermenting chicken feed.

 

Where can I buy chicken feed?

You can find chicken feed for sale at local farm stores. You can also find them on Amazon here.

 

How can I feed my chickens cheap?

To reduce chicken feed bill, free ranging would be a good idea. A garden can provide additional and natural feed for your chicken who sometimes don’t stop eating. Another option is to make your own chicken feed. Learn how to make chicken feed and check out my chicken feed recipe here.

 

What can I grow to feed chickens? 

Growing chicken feed is not complicated at all. Remember what was in grandma’s garden and sow them! Chickens can eat vegetables like corn, lettuce, kale, and any other leafy vegetable you usually grow. Sunflower and Millet are great seed producing plants too! These make great grower feed for chickens and organic chicken feed too.

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!

[This page might contain affiliate links, which means for any item you purchase using our links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our website and being a part of the Pampered Chicken Mama family!]

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!

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.