We can't decide who will be more entertained: the chickens working for these treats, or you watching their antics.
The happiest chickens get healthy treats and regular exercise.
These DIY healthy chicken treats give your backyard flock some exercise and are a great source of entertainment at the same time.
While exercise and treats have obvious health benefits, it is important to balance their nutritional needs with a good chicken feed.
Chickens get a good workout when you bundle treats and suspend them in a chicken treat tetherball. Sometimes these are called "boredom busters" as it gives chickens something to do in their coop or chicken run (particularly during bad weather or a cold winter).
Chickens are pretty easy to please, they love a nutritious treat like a hanging cabbage or melon, a bunch of sweet corn, leftover kitchen scraps, all sorts of greens, cucumbers, live mealworms (aka chicken crack), pumpkin seeds, apples, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, sweet potato, most fruits, breads and crackers and even high-protein items such as yogurt, scrambled eggs, and cottage cheese.
But not all of these treats will really exercise your chickens at the same time as treating them. Here are some good options:
- Cabbage or Melon Tetherball
We use an apple corer, and clothesline to put a hole through the middle of cabbage or melon, and then loop the clothesline through twice, leaving enough clothesline to hang the cabbage or melon from an overhead spot.
Want to try it for yourself? All you need is some thin rope, a corer, and produce.
If you are nervous about tying up the produce, there are a bunch of ways to suspend cabbage or melon in addition to clothesline.
- Sweet Corn Tetherball
Shuck a few ears of corn by peeling the leaves up, but leaving them on so you can loop clothesline around the leaf bunches at one end.
Ta-dah! Chickens will love a sweet corn tetherball.
- Cucumber Tetherball
The Chicken Chick strings up cucumbers as tetherball boredom busters for her chickens. Chickens loooooove cucumbers.
This is a really healthy chicken treat, and some say that cucumber seeds are a natural wormer.
READ MORE: 8 Tips for a Healthy Flock of Chickens
We always give oversize cucumbers to our chickens. Cucumbers grow so fast in our garden that our chickens have gotten some giant cucumbers over the years.
Kitchen Leftovers or greens in bags or baskets.
We use a wire plant hanger we picked up from Tractor Supply a few years ago to hold kitchen leftovers (old lettuce, cucumber peels, rinds and the insides of melons).
You can also use net bags to hold leftovers or produce for good hanging chicken treats.
Remember, when you feed chickens kitchen leftovers, you should check to be sure that your leftovers aren't toxic to your chickens. You also need to make sure their nutritional requirements are met with a well-balanced nutritionally complete feed (whether you get that feed from the feed store or make it yourself).
READ MORE: How to Make Your Own Chicken Feed
Peanut Butter Stuffed Apples
Fresh Eggs Daily treats her chickens to hanging apples stuffed with peanut butter.
This is a healthy and high-protein chicken treat, plus it looks super pretty and colorful.
Hanging Flock Block
Homemade suet cakes make an excellent chicken tetherball in colder weather especially.
There's a Fresh Eggs Daily post and recipe for hanging flock block cakes at Grit.
As you probably know, chickens love to race around when one has a piece of tomato, grape, or bread, and the others want a piece.
Backyard chickens play chicken "keep away" or chicken football when treats that are too big to eat in one gulp are tossed or scattered on the ground. We haven't seen any serious football style tackles or pile-ons, but they are definitely in it to win it!
Our chickens race and run and bump (but no serious football tackles) for grapes, cherry tomatoes, chunks of watermelon, and small pieces of bread or crackers.
Whether you use melon or cabbage or cucumbers, apples, or kitchen leftovers, you and your chickens will have a ball with hanging chicken treats or chicken football. It's entertaining for you and the chickens and a good form of chicken enrichment and exercise.
What hanging chicken treats or chicken football treats do you give your chickens? Let us know in the comments below!
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