One of the most enjoyable ways to interact with a flock of chickens is to feed them treats. The enthusiasm of hens pursuing a special meal or a few bites of fruit is amusing enough even if you don’t tie it to a rope and hang it from a tree branch for the chickens to peck at. While your standard feed is a good way to make sure your chickens are getting enough food, chicken treats also allow you to augment your chicken’s nutrient intake based on season, health, and individual needs. The good news is that you don’t have to buy any special chicken treats, chickens are pretty easy to please. All you need is the same kind of produce that moves through your kitchen and perhaps a few easy to source specialty items.
1. Kitchen Produce Scraps
The first thing that you should understand is that chickens love fruits and vegetables, including the parts that people don’t eat. broccoli stems, carrot ends, celery leaves and apple cores are all a delight for chickens. Simply scattering them around the yard or mixing your kitchen scraps into the compost pile is an easy way to start.
2. Hanging Produce
Chickens are also big fans of pecking at things and nothing gets them more excited than hanging produce. You can do this in a number of ways. Many people will punch a hole through something like a head of lettuce or a cucumber and string it up on fences, trees, and perches. Other people throw a vegetable medley into net bags and hang them for delighted chicken snacking.
3. Ears of Corn
Corn will make your chickens fat but you can count on them enjoying it every time, fresh or dry. The most fun way to give your chickens an occasional treat of corn is simply to hang a few fresh peeled cobs so the chickens can case it around.
4. Treat Balls
If you have ever made DIY dog or cat treats, you may be familiar with the concept of simply smooshing several tasty things together and throwing them in the yard for your pet to chase. This concept works well with chickens, too. Peanut butter and molasses are both good sticky base ingredients for your treat balls and rolled oats are an excellent filler. You may want to eat a few of these yourself.
5. Rotting Stump
One treat that is very much for chickens and not anyone else is an old rotting stump, preferably one that is full of natural forest fungus and wiggly grubs and insects. Chickens will have a delightful time hopping around the log picking out insects, as they will from your compost pile as well.
6. Sunflower Heads
It’s a well-known fact that chickens like seeds of any sort and sunflowers are no exception, plus other parts of the flower are edible to chickens as well. One fun way to give your chickens an afternoon of unusual snacking and plenty of protein is whole sunflower heads with seeds. Try finding a neighbor who grows sunflowers to partner with.
7. Smashed Pumpkins and Melons
Chickens always enjoy the opportunity to pick apart a fresh guard or melon, including any seeds and fruit available. This is an excellent way to get rid of old jack-o-lanterns and the extra third of a watermelon you couldn’t finish in the summer. If you just want to give your chickens a treat, smash a melon into the pen and let the ladies do the rest.
8. Boiled Pasta
It’s not entirely clear why chickens love pasta so much, but they do and will fight over it if you only put out one bowl. Boiled pasta is a great way to play with your chickens, give your children something safe to throw to the chickens, and put that first pot of accidentally overcooked pasta to good use.
9. Toddler Snacks
This may seem like a vague category unless you’ve ever had toddlers. Chickens love almost any kind of toddler fruit or vegetable food. They love peanut butter, so peanut butter-stuffed apples are great chicken-ball snacks. They like cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, and seeds and they enjoy these things pressed together into bars and ball treats as well. In other words, toddler snacks.
10. Chicken Smoothies
Our final two chicken snack suggestions are uniquely seasonal. If the weather gets very hot in the summer and you want to keep your chickens cool, use ice and a blender to make a fruit or produce smoothie and put it out for your flock in the shade.
11. Warm Oatmeal
In the winter, on the other hand, you can help to keep your chickens warm by making them a big pot of hot oatmeal and serving it throughout the coop. Chickens will also drink hot vegetable soup.