Did you know that poultry don't do well in the heat?
They're great at regulating their temperatures in the coldest of cold weathers. Of course - they have a feather duvet to help!
But that doesn't work well when the temperatures soar in the summer. It's at that time that your flock relies on you to help them keep their body temperature at an acceptable level.
There are various ways of doing this, and one of the simplest and most effective is to feed them frozen treats.
Of course, with the glut of summer fruit and veg, it's possible to freeze more or less anything chickens love to eat.
But freezing them separately can be a pain, and they do get bored if they're fed the same food time after time.
This very simple recipe for a frozen chicken treat is the ultimate answer.
It uses up fruit and veg which you may not want to use for human salads for one reason or another - for example, I often use zucchini which have bolted and are fairly tasteless, or windfall apples showing signs of worm infestation (because, of course, that's a chicken's idea of heaven!).
So it's very inexpensive, yet healthy for your hens.
It take just a few minutes to prepare, it's easy to freeze and, as well as keeping your flock cool and hydrated, it gives them some fun.
Any kind of large-ish tin. Don't use small containers like muffin pans - the treats will melt too quickly.
I use loaf tins and jelly (jello in the US) moulds, although my all-time favourite (and, I'm sure, my chickens' favourite) which has a myriad of uses is this bundt tin - worth its weight in gold. (This is an affiliate link, which means I get a small commission at no cost to you if you buy something when you click it).
I never hang these frozen treats, though. My chickens are hot enough - they don't need to get their temperatures any higher by jumping for treats!
More or less anything you have to hand.
The idea is to keep your flock hydrated, as well as cool, so choose mostly ingredients which have a high water content.
I use fruit and veg I have in my store cupboard or fridge which I don't want to use for our own meals.
So for example, tomatoes which have gone too soft for my liking (I like a nice firm tomato in my own salads!); cucumbers which are a bit too dried out; any fruit from the orchard which has fallen and been lying on the ground a little too long...
I then add in anything other treats I have available. Sometimes I add frozen peas, in this case I threw in a tin of unsalted sweetcorn which made for a pretty coloured treat...
To create a bit of variety I also add random things like ground up egg shell, if I happen to have some in my kitchen container, or chopped up hard boiled egg (and no, it doesn't make them more likely to want to eat their own eggs!), or a few mealworms...
It's not gross - I don't use the tins for our own cooking!
I never use any ingredients which have gone off, have mould spores or anything that's just downright bad for my flock. You can find an article about things that chickens should definitely not eat, by clicking on this link.
It's not rocket science...
The proof of the pudding (or in this case, the frozen salad) is, as they say, in the eating...
I always feed it in the shade. In very hot weather I'll give at least two of these treats each day, one in the late morning and another early afternoon.
The chickens not only love to peck at the ice block, they enjoy standing in the cold water as it melts.
That's all there is to it. As I say, it's not rocket science!
Sometimes, to ring the changes, I'll make an all fruit block, sometimes I make different shapes...
...but to be honest, I don't think my chickens really care. As long as there are tasty summer treats in there, they're good.