Thursday, 21 November 2013

Chicken Treats; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The arrival of chocolate biscuits, fizzy sweets and cake at Flyte so Fancy, on a more regular basis can only mean two things; one I will actually use the gym membership card that mainly sits in my wallet to make it look like I'm trying and secondly that it's nearly that most festive time of year. Now while I can eat all of the green foil mint triangles from the tin (leaving my colleagues to deal with the nasty blue wrapper coconut oblongs) with relative impunity, albeit some hostile glares, when it comes to our chickens, we need to make sure that they are getting the treats that are the most nutritionally good for them, in the right amount and not too often. One of the regular questions we get when we talk to our customers is, "What are the best treats I can give to my chickens?".
Treats for Chickens

Of course there are many different treats available; pecking blocks, mixed corn and the various Natures Grub mixes all have their own advantages. Be sure to look at our new Natures Grub Blend ranges as well, fruit blend, herb blend, and vegetable blend, all healthy nutritional treats for your girls (however make sure to serve them all in moderation). When it comes to choosing your treat for your chickens, its a question of what you want it for. If you are looking to hang something off a Jungle Gym or a shelter for your girls to amuse themselves with during the day, then a pecking block is the answer. Conversely, if your chickens free range around your garden, perhaps broadcasting some tasty mealworms for them to peck and scratch at for entertainment would be better suited. Whichever you end up with, its safe to say that your girls will go bananas for them.

This leads to its own problems. Like a naughty child will never eat their dinner of quiche and salad, if there is also an ice cream sundae sat on the table, chickens will ignore their everyday feed of Layers Pellets, if there is the chance of something tastier. You will also find that if you mix your Mixed Corn in with your Layers Pellets, they will eat the good stuff and throw the Layers Pellets to one side, creating a mess. Because of this it is always a good idea to give them their treat away from their feed and at a particular time of day. For example we like to broadcast some Mixed Corn here at Flyte so Fancy in the afternoon for our ladies and gents to have a peck at.
Treats for Chickens

Another problem is that we, soft-hearted humans seeing how much our chickens are enjoying their tasty treat can be rather liberal with quantities. You should never over feed them any sort of treat, it can quickly over throw their digestive balance, making them fat and ill.

Food you should avoid giving them too much is sweetcorn, cheese, yogurt, meat, kitchen scraps, bread and sunflower hearts, again it upsets their digestive system and gives them yellow runny poo. Peanuts, rapeseed, the nightshade family and pea family foliage are all toxic to poultry. If you find that your hens have diarrhea, its is possibly due to them having too many greens or an abundance of treats in their diet, try cutting back on these and see if it solves the problem. If the problem persists then check out our Helpful Health Chart, a very basic symptoms and diagnosis charts, compiled from our Poultry keeping experience.

An afternoon treat for the FSF hens

All chickens love their treats, we of course as caring poultry keepers love giving them treats too, however like me and scoffing all the green foil mint triangles, sooner or later its bad for you. When it comes to giving your chickens treats, a sensible amount once a day, if you are scattering feed around the garden or a well sized pecking blocks, will keep your girls happy and interested.