3 Cold-Weather Treats for Your Chicken Flock

A bowl of porridge with fresh fruit sits on table.
A warm bowl of porridge is a perfect treat for backyard chickens.

When it's cold outside, we stay huddled up by the fire. We have cold-weather treats such as hot cocoa or a splash of Irish cream in the coffee. We make a spicy pot of chili or sometimes a delicious curry for dinner. But our chickens? They aren't able to cook their own treats, so I often cook some cold-weather chicken treats for them.

Yeah, I hear your chuckles and snickers! Some people 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!

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

1. Porridge - cold-weather treat

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.) Besides yogurt with active cultures, dairy is best avoided when cooking for your flock since chickens are not mammals and can have some trouble digesting milk.

A cold-weather treat of a bowl of porridge with fresh fruit and granola sit on a white table.
A warm bowl of porridge is a perfect cold-weather treat for backyard chickens.

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; boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in the optional ingredients if you're using them.

2. Cornbread - cold-weather treat

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 cold-weather 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 omit the sugar, substitute corn or vegetable oil for butter, and water for milk. Here's my favorite recipe for the chickens:

A skillet pan is laid on a wooden counter and has fresh cornbread in it. This cornbread makes an excellent cold-weather treat.
Warm cornbread makes a great cold-weather treat for pet 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 a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 - 18 minutes until done.

3. Suet cakes - cold weather treat

While not a warm treat like porridge and cornbread, suet cake is excellent as a cold-weather treat. They provide extra calories for your chickens in the most frigid weather. Suet cakes are pretty high in fat, so offer them sparingly... but your flock will love them. Of course, you can purchase suet cakes for chickens on our website.

A heart shaped suet cake for chickens is shown with Christmas decoration.
Easily make your chicken flock a homemade suet cake

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.




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7 years ago

Egg muffins are a great treat also

Zackary Calhoun
7 years ago

I have tried oatmeal and bread. I also use pasta, my chickens love it. When I dump it out in the coop the coop steams up and the chickens start going crazy and getting defensive with each other because each and very one of them in trying to have it all to themselves.

Kay Warfel
7 years ago

I had a lovely, little Rhode Island Red Hen named Daisy for five and half years. I adopted her when she was one day old. She was my pet. She never lived outside. She was a "house chicken". She slept on soft blankets in a corner of my kitchen. She would watch television with us in the family room. She sat on our laps (like a puppy). She LOVED Walmart hamburgers, and only if they were made on the grill! My yard is over an acre and has many small bushes and low hanging trees. Daisy loved to "dust" under these, and with the yard so big, sometimes I didn't know where she was, so in order to not have to walk the entire yard, I would go out on our deck and take the cover off our grill pretending I was going to make burgers. Within 30 seconds Daisy would be up the four deck steps standing beside me looking longingly at the grill - so hopeful for a burger. She would always look so heart broken when she realized it was just a ploy to find her. She really loved those burgers - and she always seemed to know when it wasn't Walmart ground beef. She actually would refuse to eat it! She was so smart, and so sweet!

Denice in Maine
6 years ago

On brutally cold days in Maine, I make my little flock of 5
some warm oatmeal. I toss in blueberries and a handful of
sunflower seeds. They are in henny heaven!!!

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