The winter holidays are just days away, and many of us are planning special menus featuring family favorites and traditional treats. This afternoon, for example, my son Nicholas informed me that he hoped I’d be making my carrot-ginger soup for Christmas. My husband, Jae, is already lamenting that the Thanksgiving Brussels sprouts are all gone and that he can’t wait an entire month for me to make them again.
Our holiday menus may vary, but one thing’s for sure. We put a lot of love into what we prepare for our families.
Why not share that love with our birds? Making tasty tidbits for your birds not only is easy, it also allows your chickens to join in the festivities. Furthermore, by making these treats in your own kitchen, you can ascertain that nothing but wholesome ingredients are used.
These three recipes are tried-and-true favorites with our birds. These chicken treats go fast, so consider doubling the recipes to offer them again on New Year’s. Make them with your family for fun, as a holiday craft or as a new winter tradition.
These easy-to-make morsels consist of two ingredients: beef suet and dried mealworms.
You can purchase suet at your supermarket’s butcher counter. Find dried mealworms at wild-bird and farm-supply stores.
For best results, use a silicon mold, as you can release the treats by simply pushing up on the bottom of the mold. I recommend the mold shaped like rectangular bars.
Render the suet in a saucepot over medium heat, stirring continually to ensure its creaminess. Once all the suet is melted, add the dried mealworms, blending carefully to keep the mealworms as intact as possible.
Remove from heat and ladle into the molds.
Sprinkle several mealworms over the top of each bar, gently pressing them in. Allow the filled molds to cool completely at room temperature, then place the molds into your refrigerator and chill for 15 to 30 minutes. This brief chilling helps with the unmolding of the bars, since the suet will soften when handled.
Avoid placing the molds directly into the refrigerator, as this will give the suet a grainy consistency. Wrap each suet bar individually in plastic wrap and keep chilled in an airtight container until you’re ready to offer these chicken treats to your flock.
Peanut-Butter Pine Cones
To create these chicken treats, you’ll need several pine cones, chunky peanut butter, unsalted sunflower hearts, and several lengths of sturdy ribbon or cording.
Wrap the ribbon or cording around the stem of each pine cone so that it can be hung. Use this cording as a handle to hold the cones as you spread peanut butter over their surface.
Pour the sunflower hearts onto a paper plate, then roll each cone in the hearts to coat the cones. Set the cones on wax paper to dry slightly, then hang them on the fence of your chicken run at a height your chickens can reach.
Be sure to take the pine cones down at dusk so that they do not attract nocturnal predators.
Cornmeal Fruit Cakes
These fruit-studded goodies look so good, you’ll be tempted to try one.
Melt a cup of lard in a saucepot over medium heat. Add 1/2 a cup of raisins, 1/2 a cup of blueberries and 1/4 cup of chopped unsalted peanuts.
Mix in 4 cups of yellow cornmeal, 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 to 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Spread into a baking pan and let set, then cut into squares.
Set these out in your coop or in your run and watch your birds gobble up these delicious chicken treats.