Anyone who has owned chickens for a decent amount of time will tell you that they are most definitely NOT vegetarians. Meat or fish scraps, mice, and bugs are all considered tasty treats by chickens.
Protein is a must for chickens, especially during the annual molt. It’s usually pretty easy to tell when your flock is molting. Feathers will be just about everywhere except on your chickens. Well, almost. Feathers are made of mostly protein, so giving your flock a boost during this time is a good thing. (Add those feathers to your compost to give your garden a boost too!)
Put Your Chickens to Work
I am a firm believer in putting your chickens to work. Mine scratch up the garden for me, make compost, happily eat kitchen scraps, and help me with moose hunting season.
It’s a known “trick” to hit two dry, clean moose scapulae (shoulder bones) together during hunting season to mimic the sound of two bull moose hitting antlers together. Other bull moose in the area will come to challenge the winner. As soon as the hubby got his first moose and we harvested everything we could from it, I gave the scapulae to my girls to clean off for me. Within 24 hours, one side of the bone was completely meat free. I flipped it over and they promptly took care of the other side.
Now, not everyone may have freshly harvested moose scraps for their flock, but there are lots of other ways to give your flock a boost of protein. (Granted, the other ways may not help in future hunting trips…)
Protein Boosts for Chickens
Black oil sunflower seeds (commonly known as BOSS) are a popular treat for your flock which provides a tasty boost. These are a favorite of my flock. Mealworms are another protein-filled treat that usually have chickens running to you.
But recently I found another tasty treat for my girls. Tasty Worms Nutrition is an awesome small family-owned business that not only sells awesome chicken treats, but also funds a tortoise and bat rehab fund! Now that’s a great company! Not only that….
~ They are feed Pre-consumer food residuals (distillers grains, cookie meal). No bovine or ovine ingredients. No stabilizers, preservatives, or other additives are added.
~ US raised black soldier fly larvae by a US company with US workers.
~ Processed with a captive breeding system that is 100% traceable. Meaning they know what every larvae ate and what bin they grew up in.
~ Registered as a feed ingredient in several US States.
~ The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approval as an aquaculture feed ingredient.
~ Contains a veterinarian recommended calcium to phosphorous ration of 1.5:1 reducing needs for a calcium supplementation.
~ Customers have reported Tasty Grubs improving molting, egg shell quality, and egg taste in chickens and ducks.
** Environmental impact: 40% of food ends up in landfills, which then turns into methane gas. Which as we know, isn’t good for our environment. With the Tasty Grubs, they raise bugs that feed animals that feed people.
** It may take a few tries for the chickens to go for the Tasty Grubs. Dried mealworms are like fast food to them. Where the Tasty Grubs are more like leafy greens and protein. However, after the first taste, my girls love them and come running whenever they see me grab the bag. (They do sell dried mealworms too though.)
Remember that tortoise and bat rehab I mentioned? One of the owners of Tasty Worms is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and is also the curator and owner of City Bats Conservancy. City Bats helps rescue and rehab bats and tortoises, mainly the endangered gopher tortoise, which is in Central Florida, where Tasty Worms is located.
So not only do your girls get a healthy treat, but you get to help out wildlife too!