Chickens are omnivorous creatures and, as such, enjoy eating food that reflects what their wild relatives and ancestors would eat, including an array of greens, grains, fruits, and seeds.
Planting for your flock can save money on chicken feed costs while providing additional sources of nutrition to maintain its well-being.
Beets provide poultry with many essential nutrients. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, beets also offer fiber. When feeding beets to chickens, it’s best to do it sparingly and ensure they’re fresh – otherwise, it could make the birds sick! Chopping them first might be beneficial as large pieces could get lodged in their throats, causing digestive problems.
Chickens love beets and will quickly gobble them up when offered, yet beets must be cooked before feeding to chickens as raw beets contain harmful bacteria that could contaminate raw food sources. Furthermore, only 10% of a chicken’s diet should include beets due to their high sugar content, which can pose potential health problems if overconsumed.
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is an economically crucial drought-resistant crop known as milo, Indian millet, durra, or broom corn. Packed with protein, calcium, and iron as well as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium, grain sorghum comes in white, tan, orange, and red varieties at Nu Life Market; additionally, there are particular high antioxidant versions such as burgundy and black varieties available.
Sorghum plant stalks and juice produce syrup similar to molasses that can be used as an alternative sweetener in baking and other recipes, replacing sugar. Southern cooks have long used molasses; now, sorghum syrup is making its mark among younger chefs as an equally tasty sweetener that pairs nicely with winter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Sorghum can be prepared like rice or quinoa on your stovetop, slow cooker, or microwave as a deliciously hearty nutty popcorn variety!
Your chickens will love this nutritious treat! From purchasing bales of alfalfa hay to growing sprouts in seed trays or scattering some alfalfa cubes into their feed, your birds will find this treat appealing and healthy.
Alfalfa (also referred to as lucerne) is a perennial legume that forms dense mats throughout its environment, producing high-quality hay for livestock feed, forage for garden use, and an exceptionally nutritious green manure crop that’s packed full of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Alfalfa stands out as a nutritional powerhouse with the unique ability to regrow stems after harvesting, producing up to 13 crops of hay during any one growing season!
When giving alfalfa to your chickens, be sure to do it gradually and as an occasional treat atop their commercial and balanced feed. Otherwise, too much alfalfa could overstimulate their digestive systems, leading to weight gain or digestive issues. Furthermore, avoid feeding them alfalfa mixed with additional ingredients like sugar, butter, salt, or oils, as this could have adverse side effects on their bodies.
Chickens love eating cabbage leaves and stems as a nutritious source of Vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Cabbage provides extra Vitamin C during molting or winter, helping your flock stay warm. Occasionally offer raw cabbage slices as treats for additional Vitamin A intake during laying seasons.
Green and red cabbage are excellent for chickens, providing them with vitamin A, calcium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. When giving this treat to your flock, make sure it comes in small pieces with the stems removed to make eating more straightforward for your fowl friends.
Be mindful that baby chicks are incredibly fragile creatures whose stomachs have not fully developed at this stage, so wait at least three weeks before introducing veggies and treats for consumption; otherwise, they could suffer from diarrhea due to too much too soon!
Crabapple trees make an elegant addition to any yard, adding year-round interest and beauty. Their beautiful blossoms draw pollinating insects to them in spring, while their small fruits (under two inches in diameter) reveal golden, red, or purple hues come autumn. Although not delicious straight off the tree, crabapples make fantastic jellies or add tart notes to apple cider!
As with other Rosaceae (rose family), crabapple trees provide excellent sources of Vitamin C and soluble fiber, serve as windbreaks, and help fix nitrogen in the soil. Crabapples can quickly be grown from seeds or cuttings adapted to your region – many native peoples also utilize their fruits, bark, roots, and blossoms as food or medicine!
Before transplanting cuttings or seeds from seed into your garden, it’s essential to acclimate them gradually by placing their pot outside for one hour each day for at least seven days before planting them in their final location. This allows your new plants to adapt quickly to the weather and surroundings in their new homes.
Dandelions may seem like an annoying nuisance we spend time pulling and poisoning to eliminate. Still, chickens see them as an indispensable food source and health benefit! They provide essential dietary and medicinal support.
Nuts contain vitamins A, C, and E as well as calcium and iron – plus they’re packed full of fiber that aids in digestive health.
Dandelion greens can be fed fresh or dried to your chickens as an easy nutrition and energy boost source. Chop their leaves, stems, and flowers into bite-size chunks before feeding your flock or mixing with regular layer feed for maximum nutrient absorption. Just be sure that none of your dandelion plants has been treated with herbicides or pesticides before feeding to ensure you give your flock all the goodness it needs!
Your chickens may enjoy nibbling on dandelion seeds harvested for them by you and harvested by yourself, too. Dandelion seeds provide excellent sources of protein and antioxidants – popular among birds such as Common Linnets, who consume about 2000 seeds daily!
Your vegetable garden can provide your chickens with healthy treats throughout the year. As harvest time rolls around, offer fresh fruits and vegetables from the harvest as treats; add herbs with health benefits for them as well, such as oregano (which has antibiotic properties to ward off infections) and lavender (great for respiratory health), which you can offer fresh or dried in their nest boxes or coop.
Squash blossoms make an excellent treat for your flock and are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Enjoy serving them as snacks or incorporate them into recipes; remember to cook them first, as raw squash blossoms may attract pests or predators!
Sunflowers are an excellent treat to give to your flock, packed with omega 3s and protein. Give them as snacks directly or let them dry out to become seeds you can sprinkle throughout their coop in autumn and early winter for their enjoyment.
Sunflowers are iconic summer blooms and a delicious snack for kids and adults. Additionally, sunflower seeds are an excellent protein source for chickens during molting or cold weather when an additional energy boost is needed.
Sunflower seeds and husks are safe for chickens to consume, though limiting how much husk and seed intake will prevent excessive fat content in their diets.
Sunflower seeds may not be harmful, but you must provide your flock with other treats to ensure optimal nutrition. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, which strengthens immune systems and can prevent diseases like coccidiosis.
Sunflowers are famously famous for their ability to display heliotropism, in which their petals turn toward the sun during the day as motor cells in their stem follow the sun’s movement across the sky.