As winter approaches, it’s natural for your chickens to begin spending more time confined in their coops. However, this means they have less access to fresh growing greens. So, it’s important to provide them with an occasional healthy treat. Both for their nutritional needs and to keep them active. The following are all healthy winter treats for chickens that keep them active and help alleviate boredom.
Healthy Winter Treats for Chickens
Pumpkins and Winter Squashes – Don’t throw away your edible fall decorations, feed them to your chickens instead! Pumpkins and winter squashes can all be fed whole to your chickens (or cut them in half if they have a very tough exterior), and they will love the activity of pecking and devouring them.
An added benefit is that the seeds are considered to have natural deworming properties for your chickens (see Fall Decorations Are Natural Dewormers). Pumpkins, gourds, and winter squashes often go on sale right after Halloween, so stock up (since they store well) and feed them to your chickens throughout the winter.
Hanging Cabbage Ball – Suspend a full head of cabbage (or lettuce, broccoli, or other healthy green – see Garden Greens for Chickens) from the top of your coop on a string so it hangs at about chicken pecking level.
The chickens have fun pecking at the greens as they swing back and forth, and the greens are kept clean and out of the bedding material on the coop floor.
Homemade Suet Cakes – Make homemade suet (you can find many recipes for homemade suet online like HERE), press it into a pan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, and freeze to solidify the suet. A bundt pan makes a nice wreath shape.
When the suet has hardened, remove it from the pan and hang it in the coop. Again, at about pecking level so the chickens can easily reach it. For some holiday cheer, add a few cranberries to the suet recipe and hang the wreath with holiday-colored twine.
The chickens will enjoy pecking at the suet, and the extra carbohydrates from the suet will help them generate heat.
Don’t forget your chickens in winter, give them some healthy treats!