Quick and easy winter chicken treats

It suddenly got really cold at our farm. The weather turned overnight and this morning the ducks didn't want to go in their pond because there were ice chunks on the top! The chickens refused to come out of the coop because there was snow on the ground! So, in celebration of the chickens first cold day of winter I decided to make them some simple and quick treats to warm them up and alleviate boredom.

Suet cakes made for chickens

I mean, they had to be bored! The chickens just stood in the doorway of their coop clucking at the snow fall. Poor kids. Luckily I had some of their favorite seeds on hand. I mixed those up with some fat and solidified them in the refrigerator real quick and presto, we had chicken boredom buster treats!

These are about the easiest chicken treats you can make and you really only need 2 ingredients: seeds and fat. Oh, and you'll need a muffin tin and a refrigerator to speed things up. 

I had several types of seeds and some mealworms on hand so I used all of them, but whatever you have will work! 

Suet treats for chickens


Ingredients
Chicken seeds: scratch grains, black oil sunflower seeds, bird seed, flax seeds, cracked corn, millet etc 
Mealworms
Coconut oil, bacon grease or lard

I used 1 cup each of several different seeds. I chose scratch grains for the cracked corn content. Corn is great for helping the chickens produce body heat in winter. I didn't happen to have cracked corn on hand or I would have used that instead.

I added Black oil sunflower seeds in these treats for their fat and protein content. Since all the chickens are getting over fall molting, BOSS is an excellent treat to help grow those feathers back in. 

I used bird seed just for variety, and because I need to use it up.

I added flax seeds because feeding flax seeds to laying chickens helps increase the Omega-3 fatty acid content of their eggs. Plus, they seem to like them. Don't worry about grinding them up first, the chicken's gizzard will do that for you.

I added some mealworms which are high in protein and because all the chickens just love them! Combine all the seeds and the mealworms in a big bowl. 

In total it was 4 cups of seeds and 1 cup of mealworms.

You can use whatever fat you have on hand that is solid at room temperature. You'll need at least 1/2 cup total. I used 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 1/4 cup of bacon grease. Warm the fat in the microwave just till it starts to liquify. It should be thick but still liquid. You might need to mix it to break up clumps.

Seeds and fat mixture for suet cakes

Pour the liquid fat over your seed mixture and mix thoroughly with a big spoon. Once the fat is all through the seeds, scoop them into lined muffin tins or other molds. Tap down with the back of a spoon to make sure no air holes remain. 

These chicken treats will solidify if left on the counter, but you can put them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to speed up the process.

Once solid just pop the suet cakes out of the muffin liners and give to the chickens. Wasn't that simple?

Modifying the suet cake recipe


You can use more fat if you'd like. It's early in the winter season and my chickens are pretty healthy so I wasn't worried about adding fat to their diet. However, if you want the added fat or just prefer the look/style of commercial suet cakes then double the fat...or even more. 

You can leave out the mealworms or use cracked corn instead of scratch. You can use only one type of seed if that's all you have on hand. You could even add in some oats, nuts, dried fruit or wheat germ if you have it. As long as you have enough melted fat to stick it all together, pretty much anything goes.

If you want to use a large mold instead of several small ones, make sure you make a hole for a string to go through so you can hang it. Stick something like a straw in the hole so it doesn't close up when the suet cake solidifies. After you pop the cake out of the mold just string a ribbon through the hole and hang it where the chickens can reach it.

Chicken treats from easy to follow recipe

Keep in mind that since the fats I used (like coconut oil) soften above room temperature, these treats are best made in winter. If you want to make a suet cake in summer you'll need to use fat that remains solid at higher temperatures.

I'm sure your chickens will love their homemade suet treats just as much as mine do! What are you putting in your treats?

~L

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