If you're concerned about how your flock is coping with their feather loss, or you think that winters in your area are taking their toll on your girls - or even if you just need to give your broody hens a boost - this recipe is for you.
It's a great, easy to make, inexpensive high protein treat for those difficult times in your flock's life!
There's nothing magical about this - you'll find dozens of similar treat recipes on the internet and in books.
What you're aiming for is to mix together a variety of high protein foods to give your chickens an occasional tasty boost.
I use a lot of ingredients which I source locally and inexpensively and my 'recipe' will vary each time I make it, depending on what I have available.
You don't have to stick to my recipe though - be creative!
Cayenne pepper : I know, this sounds weird for something called a 'treat'. I add it because it's said to speed up chickens' metabolism.
Does it really? Who knows - but it can't hurt. It doesn't (despite what you might read online) make their eggs taste any different, and as chickens have very few taste buds it won't cause them problems in terms of making the end result too spicy for them.
: I grind up the shells of the eggs I add to this mix into a fine
powder because it adds a little calcium. And no, the chickens don't recognise
it as their own, so it will not encourage egg-eating.
Oats : I don't use the 'quick' type personally since I try to keep everything I feed my chickens as un-processed as possible. Plain old oats are the best.
Sunflower seeds : I use the whole seed and the black and white version since that's what's available in this area, but the black seeds are great too.
Peas : If it's autumn and I don't have my own fresh peas I use frozen. A can of sweetcorn works well too.
Cooked eggs : I hard boiled eggs and chop them into bits, but scrambled eggs are also good and act as a binder to tie all the ingredients together.
Make the scrambled variety without milk since chickens cannot process dairy products properly, and don't use them raw - it can lead to egg-eating.
Fish : This is probably the treat my flock loves best. If they're available I use fresh sardines, mashed up (and including the bones as they're very soft) but if I don't have those I use the canned variety - in oil, not brine. Brine is too salty.
Garlic : Well I do live in Italy - food is not food without garlic!
Contrary to popular belief it will not make the eggs taste, and garlic is an exceptionally good source of Vitamin B6. It's well known for its antibacterial properties and protection of the immune system.
It's also great if you have mosquitoes - for some reason they don't like it, so hanging some bulbs in your chicken coop can help with the pesky things in the summer. It's very easy to grow and doesn't take up much room, so even balcony pots can be used.
Olive oil : I add some organic extra-virgin oil since that's what we make on our Italian farm so mine is 'free'. If it's too expensive, try using sunflower oil.
Yoghurt: Most people use yoghurt as a binding agent in high protein recipes, but it's not so much the yoghurt itself which is the important thing here - it's the probiotics a natural yoghurt contains.
However, chickens do not easily digest dairy-based products, so a better solution is to add some probiotic powder mixed with water.
I don't use medicated feed for my chickens - they don't need it - but I like to provide some natural ingredients to help keep a healthy balance in the digestive system.
To put it simply, probiotics supply some of the "good bacteria" that help poultry digest food and keeps their digestive tract healthy.
So I like to keep in stock a simple probiotic supplement specially formulated for chickens - the one I recommend is non-GMO. In this recipe I just bind it with water and add to the mix.
If I don't have any probiotics in stock I will use an organic, plain yoghurt - not the flavoured kind, which has far too much sugar and too many additives.
But remember: chickens don't have the natural enzymes to process dairy, so use yoghurt sparingly.
I generally make two or three times the amount I need and either keep it in the refrigerator or freeze it, depending on how quickly I intend to use it.
Because this is so concentrated, you don't need to give lots of it. These amounts will feed 15 chickens on two occasions. In between feeds I keep the mix in an airtight container in the fridge.
I have all these books and have learned a huge amount from them. If you're looking for detailed, accurate and easy to read sources, start with any one of these!
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