Click here for Part One of this Series.
When I first started keeping a few backyard chickens there were very few resources, if any available, on the internet and in book form for small flock owners. I had to do a great deal of searching and digging to find answers. I found myself reading large commercial studies wondering how I could improve and optimize my flock’s health. In the last post, I shared with you how you can add a variety of things to your flock’s feed as well as water. In this second post we will explore a variety of items that treat your flock while seeking wonderful benefits. As with everything in life-moderation is key. Over treating and spoiling your flocks can actually do harm to your chickens.
Everybody, including me, loves to have a snack or treat between meals. Chickens are no different. They readily run to you when they know that you are about to share with them some goodies. Always keep in mind that it is better to under treat than over treat. When chickens deviate from having chicken feed as their primary diet, they too can develop health issues and weight problems. Here are a few products that you may come across on your journey in keeping chickens and a few that you may not have heard of that you might like to keep in mind in the future.
From the Garden
Pumpkin Seeds– Raw pumpkin seeds have been proven to help with worms. During the fall months when pumpkins are available, try putting one in the run with the flock. You may have to make a small hole on the side. This will keep them busy, prevent boredom and provide some health benefits along the way.
Herbs– Look into planting herbs for your chickens. When ingested many of them have beneficial properties including anti-inflammatory, pain relief, anti-bacterial, liver detoxification, immune system booster to name a few. Check out Basil, Oregano, Wormwood, Lavender, Mint, Catnip, Bay leaves, Chamomile, Fennel, Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Marjoram, and Cilantro. These are all safe for chickens. If you would like to harvest and dry your own herbs, click here for instructions. It’s easy!
Nasturtium– I love this herb and so do the hens. It too has natural worming properties. It smells like capers and has a peppery taste. The entire plant is edible including the flowers. I plant this around the coop and run area for the chickens to enjoy.
Chicken Teas-Some people take dried herbs and make their own herbal tea for the chickens. Simply add the dried herbs to a tea ball infuser and steep it in the chicken’s waterer.
Raisins-Chickens love raisins and they are good for the flock too. Raisins contain calcium, help digestive health, are high in iron and copper and are powerful anti-oxidants.
Terrific Protein Sources
|Dried mealworms from Treats for Chickens|
Eggs and feathers are both mostly made of protein. The protein demands on the chicken’s body are the highest during this time. When their bodies have to choose between laying eggs and working on replacing their feathers during the molt, automatically their bodies decrease laying eggs or halt all together. When spoiling your chickens during this time, why not provide them with treats that are delicious and high in protein? During non-molting times, be careful with providing too much protein for your flock. Their diets should be around 15% to 17% protein-exactly the amount in their layer feed. Too much protein can be harmful to their organs.
Sunflower Seeds– Don’t be fooled by their small size. These seeds are packed with protein, Vitamin E and folic acid. Sunflower seeds that are already hulled carry a protein content of approximately 40%. This is equivalent to many meat based protein sources. Try tossing some of these into the run every so often a a special treat. A little of these treats go a long way. Try a tablespoon of seed per hen a couple times per week.
Mealworms-Whether dried or fresh, these tasty worms have to be one of my flock’s favorite. They too are packed with protein at about 50%.
|Harvest Delight from Manna Pro Poultry|
Vet Rx Poultry Remedy-This is a natural product specific for all poultry that can be used for respiratory problems, colds, scaly leg mites as well as treating eye worms. It contains Canada balsam, camphor and rosemary in an oil base. It can be applied/used in a variety of ways.
Poultry Nutri-Drench– This product is said to improve appetite, poor hatchibility, laying hens, weak newborns, shipping strain, heat stress, diarrhea and illness. Some folks use it as regular preventative care. It contains high volumes of vitamins, amino acids and trace minerals.
Healthy Wellness Tonic– This dietary supplement flushes out toxins, prevents worms, improves feathers, boosts the immune system, helps with calcium absorption and egg quality.
Manufactured Poultry Treats/Mixes-There are many on the market for your chickens and it is wonderful to see so many new products available to backyard chicken keepers. Please check out Treats for Chickens, Manna Pro Poultry, and Happy Hen Treats. All three of these companies have taken the guess work of of spoiling your flock. They have analyzed the nutritional content in their products for you. Just be sure not to over treat your flock.
Cluck N SeaKelp-This dried product can be used during the entire lifetime of your flock. It provides vitamins, minerals, amino acids and carbohydrates. It helps with feathers, yolks, bone structure, decreases blood spots on eggs, decreases Coccidiosis outbreaks, increases hatchibility of eggs, helps promote good bacteria in the digestive tract, and egg shells.
Do you have a favorite treat or supplement for your chickens that I did not mention in these two posts? If so be sure to share it with the Community in the comment section.
About the Author: Melissa Caughey is a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, gardener, and cook who pens the award winning blog, Tilly’s Nest. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her family of four and her Miniature Schnauzer. She regularly writes for HGTV Gardens, Community Chickens, Grit magazine, and contributes to Country Living Magazine. Melissa is currently working on a backyard chicken book with Storey Publishing to be released this upcoming year.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
Fine Print: For some of the products that I have mentioned, I have received complimentary products to try in my flock. However, these opinions are all my own and I have not been financially compensated to mention their products in this post. The claims and descriptions made in this post are made by the manufacturers. Personally, I have never conducted any sort of scientific studies as to their claims, I am just sharing them with the Community. Use these products mentioned in your flock at your own risk. Be sure to use them as directed by the packaging labels.