Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Taking time with your hens is the highlight of anyone’s day, and treats make it all the more special.

 

My hens come running when they see I have goodies (and sometimes jump ON me), and it’s definitely adorable watching how excited they get.

 

Suet cakes (treats made with a fat to bind the ingredients together) are definitely a favorite around here, and they’re a great treat to make sure your hens are getting enough fat in their diet as well as make sure they gobble down their herbs.

 

This week’s treat for hens is a brand new recipe that includes our old favorites, sunflower seeds and oregano, with an extra twist: lemon balm and wheat berries.

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm backyard chicken Treats

 

Why these ingredients?

I made these suet cakes using coconut oil because of its health benefits for you AND your chickens.

 

If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute tallow (rendered beef fat) or lard (rendered pork fat). You can also use leftover bacon grease (which chickens LOVE).

 

Coconut oil itself is great to help your chickens maintain their weight (has lots of healthy fats) AND it’s known for its antibacterial properties. So if you’re worried about your chickens as they free range and wander around in the dirt, the coconut oil is a great basis for any treats.

 

Oregano is also known for its antibacterial properties (it’s become the darling of the chicken industry because of it), and contributes to overall health for your flock.

 

Lemon balm (aka Melissa) is well known as a natural antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory properties – great for helping your chickens’ tummies.

 

It also has a bright, citrus scent, which will leave you feeling happy as you shred it for your chickens (if you have any left over, make it into a tea for yourself, which you can drink while spending time with your fluffy butts.)

 

So why wheat berries? Well, they’re pretty inexpensive, and chicken love them. Non-GMO and organic wheat berries are a favorite of my chickens, and I know it’ll be for yours as well.

 

Also, the great thing about wheat is you can either use it straight out of the bag in these treats OR you can sprout them for 2 or 3 days into fodder.

 

The act of sprouting makes the wheat berries more nutritious and hens LOVE them, and the sprouts are a great boredom buster.

 

If you’re not sure how to sprout wheat into fodder for chickens, it’s easy.

 

Sunflower seeds, if shelled, aren’t worth trying to sprout, but chickens love them, and they’re full of healthy fats that are great for your hens. I’ve yet to meet a chicken who DOESN’T go crazy for sunflower seeds!

 

In this recipe, I used shelled sunflower seeds, but if you prefer to leave the shells on, that’s fine as well. Be sure to use black oil sunflower seeds.

 

I like to use a mini-cupcake pan for suet cakes because it makes great single-sized servings and they’re not so huge your chickens take a few bites then ignore the rest.

 

The pans are also a great way to make sure each hen gets a treat. If you have a large flock or a bossy alpha hen, some of those down further on the totem pole might not get a chance at the larger treats.

 

Ready to make your hens some healthy treats?

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Ingredients per chicken

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ tsp dried lemon balm

⅛ tsp dried oregano

2 tablespoons wheat berries

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

Mini-cupcake pan

 

(If using a regular-sized cupcake pan, double or triple ingredients, and know that each treat is enough for 2 or 3 chickens. You can always cut them down to individual portions.)

 

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Melt the coconut oil so it’s completely liquid.

 

As the coconut oil is melting, fill each cup in the cupcake tin with the dry ingredients. You want each tin to be nearly full.

 

When the coconut oil is completely melted, pour over the dry ingredients until the coconut oil reaches the top. Refrigerate until solid.

 

To remove, turn the pan upside down and knock on the bottom a few times until the treats are loosened. Serve to your chickens immediately.

 

Make yourself a cup of tea with any remaining lemon balm and drink while you enjoy watching your chickens gobble up their goodies!

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.

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.

 

Lavender Springtime Treat Mix For Chickens & Ducks

Lavender Springtime Treat Mix For Chickens & Ducks

It’s Tuesday treat time! Who doesn’t love lavender? I do, you do, and your hens sure do!

 

This week’s treat is bursting with herbs and protein (which is the best combination, don’t you think?) and you can make it for only a few dollars.

 

I thought I would change things up a bit this week with mealworms. My hens LOOOVEEE them – in fact, I timed them the other day, and it took them less than 60 seconds to devour a full cup of mealworms!

 

Spring can be a taxing time on your hens bodies because if they haven’t been laying, they’ll need more protein to get their little bodies into gear!

 

The lavender also helps to relax them so they’ll feel safe and comfy sitting for a while to get ‘er done and lay you some eggs!

 

If they laid all winter, supporting their bodies in the spring is still a good idea since they’ll likely be ramping up production naturally.

 

I love making these trail mix types of treats because it allows you to offer different types of nutrients, and hens love them because there’s a lot of different “flavors” to explore.

 

 

Particularly if your hens live in a coop and run full time, mixes like Lavender Springtime Treat Mix give them something new to cluck about AND environmental enrichment to keep their brains going!

 

And my flock loves picking at it while they poke around, exploring their new treat!

 

In a similar vein, the parsley is full of hidden vitamins. Although for human food, we tend to relegate parsley to a garnish, it’s a great source of necessary nutrients for your hens.

 

If you have a spare corner in your garden, you can grow parsley for your flock in a grazing box as well, which makes it easy to ensure they always have access to this “chicken superfood.”

 

The lavender, naturally, smells heavenly, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you made your own treat with it! (Have you checked out my recipe for lavender syrup?)

 

If you have any lavender leftovers, you can make yourself a relaxing herbal tea with it and add a bit of chamomile!

 

We have lavender for sale in the shop, but wherever you source it for your flock, please be sure it’s naturally grown and not been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.

 

Here’s how to make Lavender Springtime Treat Mix for your hens!

 

Lavender Springtime Treat Mix

 

Ingredients (per backyard chicken):

1 tablespoon lavender flowers (dried or fresh)(buy naturally grown lavender here)

3 tablespoons unsalted, raw sunflower seeds (shelled is best, but with the shell on is ok)

3 tablespoons wheat berries (buy Non-GMO naturally grown wheat here)

2 tablespoons dried mealworms (buy USA raised & harvested mealworms here)

1 tablespoon parsley (dried or fresh) (buy naturally grown parsley here)

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and feed as part of a complete diet.

Pepitas & Chamomile Whole Grain Protein Mix

Pepitas & Chamomile Whole Grain Protein Mix

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?!)

nesting box herbs

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

 

Ingredients

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

 

Directions

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?!)

nesting box herbs

Yes, I have a spoiled hen who wants nesting herbs!