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.
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:
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.
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.