With fits and spurts spring is finally on our doorstep (pay no attention to that dusting of snow we got yesterday, it’s already gone.)
A friend of mine recently dropped off some chicken “treats” for our flock. There is no ingredient list on the package but it looks like bird seed and suet – something that I always highly recommend in my workshops for a flock kept outdoors during a cold winter.
I usually throw in 2 blocks of suet treats (I used those blocks meant for bird feeders) for my flock of about 30 birds every other week in the dead of winter. You don’t want your birds to gain weight but you do want them to have a few extra calories to burn when the weather gets very, very cold (as it frequently does in New Hampshire.)
Before I gave these treats to my flock (which I did and which will be the last time before next winter), I read the lid.
All Natural Poultry Treats
Promotes natural foraging behavior
Keeps birds active and entertained in Winter
A fun frozen treat in the summer
No, no, no, no. I realize that I’m in the minority here with many backyard chicken owners but if you are feeding your chickens and allowing them to roam even a little bit then they don’t need suet in the summer.
Not even frozen suet.
Frozen suet is not like ice cream, it’s not a treat. What it is, is frozen fat. And too much fat in your chickens’ diet will, well, make them fat. And a fat chicken is a chicken with medical and orthopedic problems.
In giving your chickens high fat treats, trust me, you’re not doing any one any favors.
Here in the United States we are starting to see cases of obese backyard chickens from well-intentioned owners who feel that they must “reward” their flock (and how do we reward in the United States? We go out to dinner!) Heck if we have ice cream for dogs then giving frozen treats to chickens only seems fair, right?
It’s not, so stop it. Now. If you want to treat your flock, give them the high-water-content rinds of your watermelon and watch them go to town.
As the weather gets warmer, you’re going to start seeing a lot of posts about “cool treats” you can give your flock, and while my birds will always have access to cool water and some shade, they get their “treats” from the usual kitchen castoffs we have at the end of the day.
And that’s okay with us all.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.
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