9 treats that are good for your flock
It’s only natural to want to spoil your flock, but know that not all treats are created equal.
Words: Sue Clarke
A lot of people like to feed their birds treats to keep them tame. The best options include:
• starchy foods like rice and bread
• protein options like meat (raw or cooked), bones from a roast meal
• milk and yoghurt in moderation, however birds cannot digest lactose so they drink more water to flush it out of their kidneys, creating wet droppings
• cooked vegetables (which are significantly easier to digest than raw)
• scratch grains like wheat, mixed grains, dried peas, sunflower seeds, but no more than 10g or so per bird
• meal worms, an especially relished treat which can be bought in dried form from pet shops
• pecking blocks
• herbs and grasses
WHY CHICKEN FEED LOOKS LIKE GRAIN BUT IS MUCH MORE
It can be confusing to look at chicken feed. It looks like grain and is usually a 65-70 percent mix of various ground grains.
However, the remaining 30-35 percent will be a quality protein source, which can be animal or vegetable-based, eg soy, peas. There will be an energy source (fat) like tallow or vegetable oil. It will also include a special powdered mix of vitamins, minerals and additives like amino acids (proteins).
Calcium, in the form of limestone flour, can be up to 4% of the total quantity in layer feeds, but much lower in starter and grower feed for chicks and young birds up to 18 weeks of age.
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
One warning: too much protein can lead to problems with fewer and larger eggs which could cause prolapse of the oviduct.
If you want your flock to have some fun, tie an old cabbage, silverbeet head or soft pumpkin up so it can swing as the bird’s peck at it. It’s not particularly nutritious for them, but it does encourage activity.