Halloween is one of the favorite holidays around my house. The Candy, Costumes, Late Night Trick or Treating, all the things that my active boys love. However, Halloween is not always pet safe. Chocolate can be harmful to your indoor pets as well as your outdoor ones and too much sugar is good for no one. So with candy and trick or treating off the list, what is a chicken supposed to do?
Well, eat the leftover decorations of course. Pumpkins, gourds, squash of all kinds are great for your chickens. They will keep into the first dredges of winter. A carved pumpkin will rot faster than an intact one so be sure to feed those ones first to your backyard flock. The guts are also delectable delights of the culinary kind that chickens and other birds will enjoy feasting on after your family is done with carving. Seeds? Yes, the seeds too. That is, if you can wrestle some away from your family. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a family favorite at our house so many do not make their way into the backyard coop.
Storing your pumpkins for future chicken feedings is easy. You can store them in cold storage. What is cold storage? Cold storage is a type of refrigeration or storing of items at certain temperatures. Root Cellars, Basements, screened in porch, Refrigerator, are all ways that you can control the temperature of the area that you are storing squash. If storing in cellars, basements, barns or porches, it helps to lay your pumpkins on a layer of straw. This helps them to stay dry and gives a bit of insulation to the cold. Pumpkins can be kept in cold storage for 2-3 months in a steady temperature of 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chickens can also benefit from pumpkin purees. Freezing or canning the puree will ensure freshness and some added color and nutrients to your flock’s winter diet. If you want to give canning a try, remember that pumpkin is a low acid food and will need to be canned using a pressure canner method. The good Ol’ water bath method will not be enough to process and store pumpkin or squash. When the snow flies and fresh foods are scarce, they will appreciate the pumpkin puree stirred in with some warm oatmeal.
Enjoy your holiday today and the little ghosts, goblins and princesses that stop by for some trick or treating, but remember your backyard birds and those left over delectable jack o’lanterns that are just asking to be sampled. They beg to add freshness to your chickens’ winter diet.