How Often Do You Give Treats? Couple of Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by For-The-Love-Of-Chickens, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. For-The-Love-Of-Chickens

    For-The-Love-Of-Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    Washington State
    We love to give our chickens new things to try out, but am wondering how often treats should be given. Our babies are 10 weeks old.

    We gave them plain yogurt for the first time this week, and they LOVED it! This was the first treat other than insects that they actually liked! The other things we have tried has only gotten us the big stink eye like we are trying to poison them! I like the fact that yogurt is giving them some good intestinal benefits, but am unsure how often it is ok for them to have. Everyday? Once a week?

    Thanks! (I love the treat list that is provided on this site! Very helpful!)
  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    I usually just give mine treats about once a week. I would limit it to about 3 times a week at most. Im sure someone else will chime in with other helpful advice too. [​IMG]
  3. Mikhail

    Mikhail Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2008
    Depends on what you mean by "treat". Some people call veggies and healthy stuff like that "treats". Veggies should be given at least once every two days, but every day would be better. For things like yogurt, not very often because even though it does have some benefits, dairy products can upset bird's stomachs. They can't process dairy products very well, kinda like a lactose intolerant person.
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    If you mean any food other than their commercial feed - I give my hens a treat every time I put them back in the from free-ranging. It is only a handful of something and, after an hour out in the backyard, it works every time and even multiple times thru the day.

    To make as sure as I can that I'm not feeding too much of this other food, I weigh their feeder every night before it is refilled with the commercial feed. This is easy with only a 3 pound feeder and a scale beside the feed bag. By doing this, I can see how much of the "right stuff" they are eating thru the day. I figure one-quarter pound each should be enuf commercial feed for standard hens each day.

    edited to say, the hens have free-choice commercial feed, at all times.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2009
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Some folks believe that since starter feed is formulated to be a complete & ideal diet for chicks, that treats should be limited in order for the chicks to fill up more on their feed. The same could be said for laying hens, that the more treats they eat the less layer feed they consume, and thus produce less eggs.

    I rarely buy produce solely for the birds' consumption, but they do get fruit & veggies when it's available, in the form of things unfit for human consumption. Such as watermelon rinds, apple cores, limp lettuce, bruised fruit, etc. They also get bread crusts, leftover pasta, stale bread, and other such stuff.

    I do keep some cracked corn on hand for bribes as well as occasional treats. It's invaluable for coaxing runaway chickens back into their pens.

    In college, when I studied Pavlov's famous experiments in Classical Conditioning, I learned that the most difficult response to extinguish was that learned in response to random, infrequent rewards. He had dogs that were trained to expect food at the sound of a bell. He measured their expectation by the salivation they'd begin at the sound of the bell, before they saw or ate the food. If they got food every time they heard the bell, it was easier to cancel that response by ringing the bell and not giving them food. But the ones who got food only at random times after hearing the bell were the ones who were the most difficult to get to stop expecting food the next time they heard the bell. Sort of like gamblers, willing to continue hoping that the payoff will come the next time.

    So I think it's better to give pure treats to my chickens at random intervals, not every single time I go out to see them. They'll quickly learn to associate the sound of your footsteps, or the opening of a gate latch, or the slam of a screen door with the possibility of food. And they'll come running to you. But some times I just talk to them nicely, and other times I'll bring them a treat, they never know when & they'll always come running.

    I know that part of the pleasure of keeping animals is providing foods they enjoy eating. I'd take a moderate approach & not give them things more than once a week, or when available. Especially for young chicks, who, like children, need to eat their healthy food in order to grow up strong and not fill up on snacks.
  6. sillybirds

    sillybirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2008
    I give my chickens treats about every day. I'll usually toss them a handful BOSS. I give them mealworms a couple times a week. They love those!
  7. lisahaschickens

    lisahaschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    my chickens love yogurt over everything else in the world and they get it maybe 2-4 times per week... just a small bowl (maybe 1 cup) for all 15 of them.

    However, I know someone else on BYC who includes yogurt in her birds' morning mash every day.... and she has had huge success with her birds, so it doesn't seem like it would be harmful to them to me.
  8. Foxhound lady

    Foxhound lady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    TX baby!
    The chickens here get yogurt once a week, food scraps on most days (potatoe/carrot peelings, rice, basically what evers in the fridge.

    They get raisians 6 out of 7 days a week to encourage the go to bed behavior (right now they are hanging around the coop starting at 4pm).

    The baby chickens get treats starting after one week of age (cooked rice, yogurt, spagetti, bugs).
  9. max101

    max101 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    newcastle Australia
    Every second day I give my chickens weetbix soften with water and mixed with yoghurt sultanas and pumpkin seeds. Meal worms twice a week and 2 minute noodles 2 times a week. They love cooked rice and peas too.

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