Giving chicken treats to your flock has so many benefits. It keeps your ladies from being bored, and a variation in their diet will boost your birds’ overall health and happiness.
Chickens are omnivorous, meaning that they eat plants and meat. Here, I’ll cover 15 DIY chicken treats for your flock that encompasses their natural diets. Please remember to always feed these in moderation. Feeding too many treats can have a negative impact on your chickens’ health.
The easy-to-make piñata is a great way to give a snack and combat boredom at the same time. Take corn, watermelon or really any vegetable and fruit that you can hang from a rope and hang it up in the coop! Your birds will be entertained all day by these chicken treats, and you’ll get a funny show watching them peck at whatever you have hanging.
In my coop, I normally use a mix of different gourds and sometimes I’ll even hang a head of broccoli. They always have a fun time with it!
An herb garland can look beautiful in your coop, make it smell better and serve as an impromptu snack bar for your flock! I always have leftover lavender, oregano, chives, mint, parsley and thyme.
I sometimes hang it high above their roosts or low other times to give them a sense of change. I take simple twine, bunch up my herbs and tie them into the twine. I then hang it side to side in their coop.
If I’m going to be gone for a few days, I’ll incorporate some kale and spinach bunches into this as well.
I have only made this next treat twice in my entire time of chicken tending. I don’t bake very often, but if you are a baker, this treat will work out well for you and your flock!
A chicken cake can contain all sorts of goodies, and decorating can be a load of fun also! The recipe is as follows.
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- 1⁄2 cup applesauce
- 1⁄2 cup peanut butter
- 1⁄4 cup oregano
- 1⁄2 cup chopped apple
- 1⁄4 cup parsley
- 1⁄2 cup chopped strawberry
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix your flour, baking powder, peanut butter and applesauce together. After they’re mixed, add the rest of the ingredients. Put it into a cupcake tray with a disposable cupcake tray for easy removal.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, and viola!—a chicken cake!
You can top your chicken treats cake with a multitude of different things. The first time that I made this recipe for my flock, I cooked the entire cake in a cake pan and topped the whole thing with corn and herb leaves. I used carrots to make a face (because what’s a cake without some decoration) and my flock loved it!
Read more: Make treat time fun with a modified gumball machine!
Everyone can make these easy chicken treats! You only need peanut butter, raw oats and any other treats you would like to throw in. They’re also great to freeze during the summer to help your birds cool off!
Mix 1⁄2 cup of peanut butter to 1⁄2 cup of oatmeal, and roll into balls. That’s it! I recently have started incorporating mealworms and black sunflower seeds into mine, but any treat can be added.
This “salad” will be very different from the salad you’re used to making. For this treat, you need peas, blackberries, blueberries, chopped grapes, spinach, oregano, chopped strawberries, iceberg lettuce and sunflower seeds.
Mix it all in a big bowl and you have a chicken salad for your flock! During summer, I’ll mix in ice cubes also to keep it cool.
The frozen cool-down block is a good treat during summer. Fill any container up with water and add whatever treats your flock likes.
After you have added the chicken treats, freeze it. Giving them this treat during the summer will help them cool down on those very hot summer days while also keeping them entertained. My flock will work on one of these for hours even after it has melted.
For this next treat, you will need to purchase a wire wreath frame. I normally get mine at the Dollar Store. Once you have your wire wreath frame, peel some apples.
Add the apples to the wreath form, and hang in the coop within your birds’ reach. You can also add herbs to the frame with the apples or larger treats. This is a simple, easy and quick treat.
Another quick and easy treat for chickens is a parfait. For my flock, I get a large container of yogurt and add fruit to it. Blackberries and strawberries tend to be my flock’s favorites.
The live bacteria found in yogurt is great for a chicken’s stomach health. But too much of a good thing can cause diarrhea, so feed yogurt in moderation.
When you’re in a cooking mood with no one to cook for, cook your flock some pasta! During winter, pasta can offer a warm little pick-me-up for a cooped-up flock.
I cook spaghetti or angel hair. Once it’s cooled, I put it in a large bowl and add mealworms, black fly larvae and a mixture of herbs. I serve this only once during winter. Pasta contains a lot of carbohydrates so this is another treat that is best served in moderation.
The “molting meatloaf” is perfect for molting season. Many variations are available, but this is the one that I have used (routinely adding ingredients over the years).
- 3 eggs
- 3⁄4 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 2⁄3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2⁄3 cup layer crumble
- 1⁄4 cup wheat germ
- 1⁄4 cup powdered milk
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup oregano
- 1⁄4 cup cinnamon
- 1⁄4 cup cayenne pepper
- 1⁄4 cup dill
- 1⁄4 cup fresh or dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried sage
- 1 1⁄2 pounds ground beef
Combine your eggs, milk and molasses first. Add everything but your ground beef, and mix well. Once blended, add your meat. Pat this mixture into a meatloaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Once cooked and cooled completely, serve to your flock!
Read more: Care is key to comfort for molting chickens.
Pancakes for Poultry
Banana pancakes are also a great treat. This treat only uses two things: eggs and bananas! You can always add in herbs and mealworms, though, if desired. I love this treat because it freezes well, it’s nutritious and you can warm them up for a winter morning treat.
You’ll need two eggs to one large ripe banana. Blend the eggs and banana together until the texture is smooth. Into an oiled skillet, pour “batter” and cook like you would a regular pancake! You can make a single giant one or several silver-dollar ones to feed sporadically throughout winter.
Nesting Box Herbs
I use a blend of herbs in my nesting boxes and in my litter, but I also use them as treats on occasion. This blend consists of multiple herbs that are good for chickens, and while I sell it in my store, I’m going to give you the recipe here.
I don’t really use a measuring set. It’s just an even blend of all of these herbs: basil, bee balm, calendula, chamomile, cilantro, comfrey, dill, echinacea, garlic, lavender, marigold, mint, nasturtium, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme and thyme yarrow.
I collect and dry all of these herbs myself, but you can easily purchase them already dried.
Cookies for Chooks
Santa doesn’t have to be the only person that gets cookies! Your flock will love these chicken treats, and they are so easy to make! All you’ll need is 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of flour and 1 egg!
Mix these ingredients together, and make dough balls. Apply to a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes. Let them cool fully before you feed to your flock!
Sprout Some Seeds
This next treat requires wheat seeds. You can do this one many different ways. I have seen some chicken-keepers sprout them in jars and do a daily wash of water, while others cover a flat planting tray with seeds and sprout them that way.
I normally plant mine because some of them will be transferred to my garden. The sprouts that I don’t use are fed back to my flock and will keep them entertained for hours. The extra dirt gives them something new to scratch in and, with the sprouts mixed in, gives them a treat to look for!
Treactions in moderation are best practice for any flock. These treats will hopefully help you spoil and help with your flock’s nutritional intake!
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Chickens magazine.