It is a good idea to supplement your chicken feed in the wintertime to help keep your birds warm. There are several options for supplements, but I like to make special homemade winter chicken treats for them to enjoy.
The treats that I make are nutritious for the birds and they help to keep the flock warm in the winter. These treats contain coconut oil or grease and corn to give an extra boost of fat and protein that help to keep the birds active and warm.
My homemade chicken treats give backyard birds a healthy treat that they double as a fun toy. I also save money by not buying pre-made treats at the store. Want to make your own? Read on, my friend 🙂
What can Backyard Chickens Eat?
Before we get to the winter chicken treat recipes, let’s chat about the foods that are safe for chickens to eat.
Research which seeds would benefit your backyard flock the most. Different seeds provide different levels of fat, vitamins, and Omega-3s. I prefer to feed Black Oil Sunflower Seeds and Flax Seeds.
Oats contain a mix of vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to improve health and reduce aggression in laying hens. You can read more about the benefits of oats here.
**Feeding oats to chickens is a debated topic since oats aren’t the most digestible treat, so be sure that you do your research and make the best decision for your flock. Personally, I would only give oats as an occasional treat, but not as a supplement to their daily feed ration.
Use caution when adding whole beans to your treats. They need to be properly heated to kill a toxin that could be fatal to your birds. Soybeans are my favorite to add to my homemade suet treats because they have very high levels of lysine and methionine, which are essential for poultry growth and production.
I like to mix coconut oil with bacon grease. This mixture provides extra an extra fat boost for your birds. Grease and/or oil is essential for winter chicken treat.
Coconut Oil has a TON of benefits for flock health. It is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. It improves circulation & the immune system. That’s just taking the tip off the ‘ol iceberg, y’all. If you don’t keep coconut oil on hand, no worries… Leftover cooking grease is fine to feed.
Peas, like soybeans, have high lysine levels…BUT…unlike beans, peas can be added to poultry diets without prior heating or processing.
Corn is a good source of protein and energy for laying hens and it is the easiest grain for birds to digest. Add more corn to your treats in the winter and less in the warmer months. I know this post is about occasional treats, but I feel the need to add this tidbit anyway–>Don’t use corn as the only source of feed for your birds. Chickens are NOT vegetarians so they need more than a grain-only diet.
#7 Dried Fruits
Make sure that the fruit has no added sugar and that seeds and pits are removed. Citrus fruit should also be avoided…this one is controversial, but as long as you stick to the guidelines for feeding dried fruit and you only give it as an occasional treat (to avoid overfeeding) it should be just fine.
How to Make Homemade Winter Chicken Treats
These winter chicken treats are made with an oil/grease base to give the birds extra fat to warm them up in the cold weather.
Winter Chicken Treat Ingredients:
- Grease or Oil (Coconut Oil & Bacon Grease are my favorites)
- Beans (see the note at the beginning of the post)
- Dried Fruit
1) GATHER INGREDIENTS AND SUPPLIES
Start out by gathering any ingredients that your birds enjoy.
2) SPRAY A MINI MUFFIN PAN OR ICE TRAY
These treats don’t really stick because you are using oil as one of the main ingredients, but I didn’t want to chance it so I sprayed cooking oil to be safe.
You can also use a regular baking pan or loaf pan if you want bricks for a hanging feeder instead of individual treats. The EZ Fill Suet Basket is a simple & affordable hanging feeder for bricks, but I like this one if you want something a little fancier.
3) FILL THE PAN OR TRAY
Place your dry ingredients into the wells of the pan. Only fill the wells about 1/2 full of the seeds, grains, and other dry treats.
Now you can fill each well about 2/3 full with your melted (not cooked) oil, grease, or water.
4) SOLIDIFY THE WINTER CHICKEN TREATS
Place your filled pan in the fridge to let the oil solidify. This takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the type of grease or oil that you chose. If you are making summer treats with ice, place your pan in the freezer for a few hours.
5) POP THEM OUT AND STORE
Pop the solid homemade suet treats out of the pan and store them in the freezer in a plastic container or a zip loc bag. They will keep for several months in the freezer. I have some winter treats from 2 months ago that are still good as new! Just be sure to leave them in the freezer (not refrigerator) until you are ready to feed them or they will start to melt.
6) SERVE THEM TO YOUR BACKYARD BIRDS
Throw a couple of your homemade suet treats out to your barnyard birds and watch them gobble ’em up! Seriously, they love these things! Let me know if your chickens are fans and what ingredients you used in your treats!
Are you ready to make some yummy & healthy winter chicken treats for your backyard birds?
>More Livestock Resources<<
- How to Make Simple Homemade Horse Treats
- How to Make Homemade Summer Chicken Treats
- Make Sugar Cakes for Honeybees
- The Livestock Management Binder