We all like to make holidays special for our chickens as well as our family and friends. After all, they're part of the household.
But what, of all the food we eat ourselves, can be shared with our flock, and what should remain on our own plates?
These recipes take some of the ingredients of a typical Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and use them to create a special treat your chickens will love.
Be aware, though: giving chickens too many treats will damage their health. Poultry, just like people, need to eat their own healthy food first.
Treats should never make up more than 10% of their intake.
Feeding this recipe once or twice at Thanksgiving or Christmas is fine. The ingredients make plenty for a small flock of four or five.
To create a Thanksgiving dinner for chickens, we'll use some of the goodies we'd use for ourselves, and make them chicken friendly.
Want to go straight to my dinner treat recipe? Click here.
Turkey: Thanksgiving would not be the same without turkey. Does it seem strange to feed meat to chickens, though?
Many people wrongly assume chickens to be vegetarian. If you've ever seen one of yours chase after a mouse, lizard or even just a worm, you'll know that's not the case.
Some people prefer to offer it in the form of turkey flavoured cat food, but actually fresh turkey is far preferable. It doesn't have any of the added ingredients found in processed foods.
I use inexpensive turkey bits - or use some of your leftovers.
Sweet potato: use this rather than the mashed white potato you'd normally see on your holiday table. Any signs of white potatoes turning green is not good news for chickens - they contain solanine, which is poisonous to poultry.
Sweet potato, on the other hand, contains large amounts of Vitamin A, which helps chickens deal with stressful conditions like cold weather and moulting - critical at this time of year.
Don't peel the sweet potatoes. It's perfectly safe and much of the goodness is just underneath the skin.
Cranberries: high in Vitamins B and C plus potassium, cranberries contribute to healthy bone and feather growth. Either fresh or dried cranberries work.
Pumpkin: fresh pumpkin, not pumpkin pie! Its high Vitamin A content helps boost the immune system.
Garlic: this is entirely optional. I live in Italy, so garlic goes into almost everything! Proven to protect against bacteria, it's another healthy option to add.
And no, it doesn't make their eggs taste of garlic!
Virtually any vegetable you'd have at Thanksgiving or Christmas will be good for this recipe. Add whatever you have of...
This is mostly common sense. Don't feed your flock anything that's fatty or has sugar (no roast potatoes, marshmallows, chocolate or cookies please!); avoid anything with added salt, particularly gravy; no citrus or dairy based foods like milk, which they cannot digest; and no onions - they contain thiosulphate which, in quantity, causes blood disorders.
And of course, no alcohol or caffeine! Chickens should drink water only.
For five other common foods chickens should never eat, see this article.
This is a "mix and match" recipe. This is what I've found works, but if there's something you don't have, substitute something else.
This serves a small flock of four to five chickens. For larger flocks just increase the quantities.
You could literally simply plate this up onto your chickens' favourite platter.
I like to make a little extra effort, so I put mine into some Thanksgiving and Christmas cookie cutters.
And then, let your chickens loose with it - and stand well back or get caught in the stampede!
My Thanksgiving recipe is good for both holidays. I'll be adding some Christmas breakfast treat recipes here in the next few weeks.
Bookmark the page, or join my newsletter, so you're sure not to miss them!
A lot of "facts" you'll find on the internet are often people's individual views, based on inaccurate information repeated from poor quality sources.
The information I provide in this article and others is based not just on my own experience, but on evidenced facts from scientific, peer-reviewed research and books from highly respected and experienced poultry keepers such as Gail Damerow.
Some of the trusted sources I have used in this article are these.
Ayuk, E. A: Effects of sweet potato meal on the growth of broilers. Pub. Researchgate, 2004.
Vitamin A in Poultry. Pub. Journal of Animal Nutrition & Health, 2017.
Rinehart, K. E et al: Influence of dietary potassium on chick growth, food consumption and blood and tissue composition. Pub. Journal of Poultry Science, 1969.