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Healthy Chicken Treats for Every Season

My chickens get some sort of snack or treat nearly every day - even if it's just some free range time so they can find their own snacks in the form of bugs, worms and weeds.
It can get expensive to constantly be buying commercial treats, so I try to vary what I give to my flock by season and that changes depending on what's readily available and what is optimal nutritionally for them.
Before I go into what treats I feed during each season, there are some basic guidelines when it comes to treats. 


Basic Guidelines when it Comes to Treats

A balanced layer feed (or grower if you have little ones still) should make up the bulk of their diet, so treats should be saved for the afternoon after they've filled up on their feed.
Treats should make up no more than 10% of total diet, so figure on maybe 1-2 Tablespoons per day per chicken of snacks.
Generally, if you would eat it, then it's okay for your chickens, so that means stale or wilted is okay, but don't ever feed anything moldy, spoiled or rotten.
So, now that you've got the guidelines down, here's what I feed my chickens as treats for every season.
-all photo credits CoopduJour Photography-

Healthy Chicken Treats for Every Season

Spring Treats

Nourishing and Cleansing

After a long winter of not getting much exercise, sunlight or fresh greens to eat, I always like to take advantage of early spring weeds and herbs for my chickens and ducks. 
Many have nice anti-oxidant properties, which are great for some internal cleansing.
If I've got broodies who are hoping to hatch some chicks, I want to get them in tip-top shape prior to becoming moms, and of course laying eggs takes a lot out of the hens, so a nice boost in nutrients each spring when egg production gears up again is important.
Weeds are always such a great free treat, as are bugs, worms and other insects.

Letting the chickens have some time in the garden allows them to find any bugs that over-wintered there.
Some favorite spring treats include:
Early weeds such as dandelions, chickweed and plantain
Tender grass shoots
Herbs such as basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, sage and thyme
Raspberry leaves
Worms and Bugs
Garden trimmings/seedlings
Rose petals

Summer Treats

Cooling and Hydrating

Once the heat of the summer sets in, I switch to water-laden, cooling treats to keep my chickens and ducks hydrated.
They love all kinds of garden produce, but these are some favorite summer treats, all of which you can easily grow yourself.
Watermelon
Cucumbers
Frozen Berries



Fall Treats

High Protein

Come fall, I like to concentrate on protein-rich treats. 
Not only will my chickens be needing a bit of extra protein to help them grow in new feathers as they shed their old ones during their annual molt, adding a bit more protein can help them get ready for the winter cold.
Feeding some of our garden harvest such as pumpkins, carrots and garlic is also beneficial in that these treats are thought to act as a natural wormer for poultry as well.
Dried grubs or mealworms (purchased or homegrown!)
Pumpkins
Sunflower seeds
Unsalted nuts
Garden remains - stems, stalks and the like
Meat, fish and shellfish scraps - yup, chickens eat meat!

Winter Treats

Warming and Energizing Treats

Through the winter, I concentrate on snacks to help my chickens and ducks stay warm. We don't heat our coop, so they rely on body heat. 
Winter treats should be packed with energy and warming for them.
Cracked corn and scratch grains are popular cold weather treats, best served just before bedtime. 
And a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or cayenne pepper over the feed or treats can help with circulation which should in turn help prevent frostbite.
Because greens are so nutritious, winter time is a great time to try your hand at growing sprouts or fodder for your chickens and ducks. 
Any leftover garden seeds will work, or you can sprout winter rye or wheat grass for them.
Scratch grains and seeds
Suet
Oatmeal
Cinnamon/Cayenne pepper
Fodder/sprouts
For even more simple and economical treat ideas, pick up a copy of my book 101 Chicken Keeping Hacks at bookstores everywhere.
Further Reading
Toxic Treats
How Many Treats Should I Feed my Chickens?
The Truth about Chicken Treats
Healthy Treat Guide

Treat your flock to all natural Fresh Eggs Daily® feed supplements! 


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