It’s easy to give treats to our chickens when the weather’s nice outside. Our gardens are growing, there’s fresh produce everywhere you look and with the nice weather we tend to spend our time outside more.
We throw table scraps into the chicken run for them to munch on, we weed the garden and throw our girls the pile we made and if you’re like me, as the garden grows, I’ll even throw some extra produce into the chickens as a treat.
But what about when it’s cold and raining outside? Weeds don’t grow nearly as much, if at all. The bugs are not nearly as plentiful. There’s no extra produce to feed them. And here in Oregon where I live, it rains a lot, it’s muddy and being out with the chickens isn’t really on the top of my “want to do” list. I’m guessing you might feel the same way.
So here’s a list of some of the best treats for chickens you can give during the winter months. Some of these winter time chicken treats you can make yourself…and others, well…here they are.
Treats For Chickens For Winter
One of my favorite winter chicken treats are mealworms. They’re a major source of protein, which is very important during the winter, and they’re a treat that you can grow yourself!
Read More: How To Grow Mealworms For Your Chickens
You may already know that the winter months can be a stressful time for some chickens. Often times it’s during these fall/winter months that chickens will molt, which can be very draining on their energy supply as they lose, then grow new feathers.
That’s another reason why mealworms make an excellent winter time treat for chickens. The incredible amount of protein that is in each mealworm.
2. Chicken Scratch
Chicken scratch is probably the best iwinter chicken treat. It’s a mix of corn and a variety of other whole grains. It’s something that you may already have on hand, but if not, I highly recommend buying some.
What makes scratch such a great winter time treat is because the chicken actually generates heat as she digests the scratch, helping keep warm when it’s cold outside.
Since there’s not a lot for your chickens to forage for outside during the winter, try throwing a handful or so onto the ground. This will not only encourage them to get out and forage, but also entertain them keeping their mind stimulated.
You can also make your own blend of chicken scratch. Just experiment, get creative and blend together different types of grains such as millet, oats, barley, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. If you want, you can even throw in some dried mealworms to spice it up!
Read More: 10 Different Types Of Chicken Feed
3. Hanging Treat Balls
Another great chicken treat for winter is providing different types of hanging treats for the girls to peck at. One example is to hang a head of lettuce or cabbage from the ceiling. Allow it to hang down close enough so they can peck at it, but high enough that it still swings freely.
This simple treat can not only provide fresh greens to your chickens, but it will also, just as importantly, provide a type of mental stimulus for their brain.
During the long dark winter months, as rain, snow and ice cover the ground, chickens can get really bored and even begin to peck at each other. Providing this type of treat will help prevent that type of behavior.
Although pasta doesn’t necessarily carry very much nutritional value with it, this is still a great winter treat for your chickens because it will keep them entertained.
Throw out a handful of spaghetti noodles and watch the fun ensue. Chickens will run around the coop with long spaghetti noodles hanging out of their mouths doing their best to keep it away from other chickens who are determined to steel it from them.
I’m not sure why they love noodles so much. It may be because they somewhat resemble worms. Either way, give it a try this winter.
5. Winter Squash
If you happened to grow and put into storage winter squash, consider sharing one or two of them with your chickens. They’ll go crazy over it.
All you have to do is cut the squash in half and set it down on the ground. The chickens will go nuts over the fleshy and slimy inside as well as devour the seeds from the middle.
6. Tuna and Corn Casserole
This one comes from my friend over at Backyard Chicken Coops. We know that tuna is packed with protein, which is great for chickens in the winter, and that corn is one of their favorite grains, so why not put them together?
The folks at Backyard Chicken Coops say, “Tuna gives your girls a great protein boost while they go through or finish their molt and corn will raise their body temp (plus they LOVE it) for some serious perch snuggling. Simply place some freshly shucked corn or dried corn kernels in a bowl with a tin of unflavored tuna. Easy peasy!”
7. Cooked Oatmeal
I don’t know about you, but I love oatmeal, especially in the winter when its cold outside. My kids love it too. So it seems like we’ve always got a pot of oatmeal cooking on the stove.
And every time we cook some up, there’s always a bit left over. And that leftover bit of oatmeal always goes to the chickens. And they love it!
So next time you cook up some oatmeal for the family, try cooking a little extra. The chickens love it, it makes a great winter treat for the chickens and it does not cost much at all.
8. Cottage Cheese
Another winter time treat that is packed full of protein and that chickens love is cottage cheese.
You can give cottage cheese to your chickens directly “as is”, or you can spice it up a little by adding vegetables like broccoli or carrots, or even corn, which will help keep them warm as they process it.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about cottage cheese that chickens love, but they definitely do!
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