Learn about Chicken Treats!
Once hens start laying eggs, you can start offering treats. Treats, scratch grains and table scraps can be a fun way to spend time with the backyard flock.
Still, treats and foraging can be fun pastimes for the flock. If you'd like to offer treats and free-range time, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Follow the 90/10 rule
Limit treats to 10% of the diet. More treats than this can dilute the essential nutrients provided in the complete feed.
Think of treats, kitchen scraps and scratch grains as candy for birds; fun to eat and a nice treats, but you wouldn't want to make a meal of them. Like candy for us, kitchen scraps and scratch grains are not fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Every time you provide unfortified treats, you dilute the complete nutrition of the layer feed and the hens may receive less nutrition than they would if they just ate their complete feed. If you feed high levels of treats, then hens will likely eat less fortified feed, causing them to miss out on the nutrients they need.
Corn, scratch grains, fruits and vegetables are all considered treats. Since we know it is fun to feed treats, view these items as special goodies hens get in small amounts a few times a week. Just be cautious not to over-treat.
What does the 90/10 rule mean? Laying hens eat approximately 0.25 pounds of complete feed each day, which is about the same as one-half cup. When putting the 90/10 rule into practice, this means treats should not exceed 2 tablespoons. A few small treats are all each bird should have per day.
Purina Flock Block
The Purina Flock Block supplement is a fun and healthy treat. Made with whole grains and fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, it provides enrichment no matter the season while also providing more nutrition than scratch grains to keep your hens healthy and productive.
In the summer, place the Flock Block supplement outside to encourage natural pecking behavior. In colder weather, the Flock Block supplement can be a useful boredom buster - keeping the flock occupied and less likely to peck one another while in the coop. It can also serve as a backup weekend or vacation feeder for your flock in case something happens to their regular feeder.
Birds love to explore the backyard and it can be quite entertaining to watch their adventures. If birds free-range, start by feeding their complete feed in the morning before they go out exploring.
Chickens are natural foragers, so trying new foods is inevitable. They tend to avoid foods that are bad or harmful for them.
Whether your birds are foraging or spending more time in the coop, start with a complete feed as the baseline and then be careful not to over-treat your birds with goodies. The 90/10 rule still applies.
Some foods to avoid feeding your chickens include: Onions, Garlic, Avocado pits and skins, very salty foods, Rhubarb, Potato peels with green areas, undercooked or dried beans, and moldy or rotten food.