Give them a treat
- Credit: Archant
Chickens like a bit of entertainment… just like humans. Terry Beebe looks at some options
While chickens can be kept in very good condition simply by giving them the correct feed, selected treats and additives can enhance their diet. These, and other distractions, can also help to prevent feather pecking and even cannibalism, both of which are serious problems.
Hens will always welcome a variety to their diet and any treats go down well. They can be particularly useful in winter when the birds have more limited access to insects and green stuffs.
A word of warning though: too many treats can cause the birds to become overweight and this can put them off lay and out of condition. It is a case of getting the balance right!
Limited amounts of greens such as leaf veg (spinach, kale, broccoli and lettuce) will help to give a good colour to the egg yolk. Fresh sweetcorn is ideal. You can chop up the cobs and fasten bits on a rod in the ground; this will also keep the hens occupied which in turn will help prevent boredom. Fruit (grapes and oranges) are also appreciated, as are peanuts. Remember, though, that chickens should not be given food direct from the kitchen as this is illegal for hygiene reasons.
Organic treats and peck blocks
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There are several companies which supply these types of products and they are invaluable, especially during the cold winter weather to help prevent boredom.
Spikes World (Feathers & Beaky)
This company offers a range of chicken foods and special feeders. Their Peck-It Treat Dispenser keep them amused for ages and vermin won’t be attracted by food on the floor.
Hentastic products from Unipet
This company offers Peck Cake Blocks as organic treats. They fit either in a specially designed holder that sits on the floor or can be hung loose. The chickens do love them. There are also Hentastic Chick Sticks and Foraging Feast treats. These are packed full of natural herbs that have antioxidant properties they are high in protein and also rich in vitamins. Unipet says they also aid digestion and will generally help to promote growth and bone structure.
Treats from British Hen Welfare Trust
The BHWT has a range of treats at its online shop. These include the Hentastic products and others from Nature’s Grub. A Chicken Treat Pack contains a number of these products and is priced £24.99. Also offered are a Herb Garden Blend and a Vegetable Blend.