When it's cold outside, we stay huddled up by the fire. We have hot cocoa, or maybe a splash of Irish cream in the coffee. For dinner, we make a spicy pot of chili, or sometimes a delicious curry. But our chickens? They aren't able to cook up their own treats (since I haven't equipped the coop with a kitchen---yet). So I often cook up some cold weather chicken treats for them.
Yeah, I hear your chuckles and snickers! Some people would say it's a little weird to cook for your chickens. But when your chickens are your pets, it's no different than giving your dog or cat a special treat. Don't judge me! 😉
Want to make some cold weather treats for your flock? I'll share three easy options right here.
3 simple cold weather treats for your flock
Something warm on a cold morning is a treat for us---and it's a treat for your chickens, too. My chickens love oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat---made without dairy or added sugar. (Too much sugar can cause diarrhea.) Dairy, aside from yogurt with active cultures, is best avoided when cooking for your flock, since chickens are not mammals, and can have some trouble digesting milk. Here's the recipe I use:
Porridge for Chickens
- 1 c water
- 1/2 c rolled oats
- 1/4 c raisins or finely chopped apples
- 2 TBSP soy or casein protein powder (optional)
- 2 tsp flaxseeds (optional)
Combine everything but the optional ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in the optional ingredients, if you're using them.
In cold weather, chickens may need extra calories from high fat foods so their bodies have enough energy to maintain body temperature. Although it doesn't have all the nutrition your birds require (in fact, mistaking cracked corn for regular, nutritionally balanced chicken feed is one of the worst mistakes a novice chicken keeper can make), still, corn is relatively high in calories because it has high-calorie oils, sugars and starches.
Even though corn is not a complete feed, corn makes a great treat, offered in moderation. Cracked corn is probably the simplest way to provide it---but you can also heat up canned or frozen corn, or bake some corn into cornbread or corn muffins. Use your favorite recipe, but be sure to omit any sugar, substitute corn or vegetable oil for any butter, and water for any milk. Here's my favorite recipe for the chickens:
Corn muffins for chickens
- 1-1/2 c cornmeal
- 1/4 c all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 c plain yogurt
- 1 can corn (undrained)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl---then add to dry ingredients. Fill muffin tin about 2/3 full, and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 - 18 minutes until done.
3. Suet cakes.
While not a warm treat like the porridge and corn bread, nonetheless suet cake is great on a cold day. They provide extra calories for your chickens in the coldest weather. Suet cakes are quite high in fat, so provide them sparingly... but your flock will love them. Of course, you can simply purchase suet cakes for chickens on our website. (Just click the home page link above to see what suet treats we have, like Chunky Chicken Caviar, or the Optimal ForageCake.)
Remember, you can also make your own suet cakes. We have a great recipe for DIY suet cakes for chickens in our book.
Do you cook for your chickens? You can find more recipes for them---including a crustless pumpkin pie, and even refreshing summer recipes like a Waldorf Salad for chickens---in our book, the My Pet Chicken Handbook. You can get a signed copy by going to our home page in the top navigation menu above--or you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.