What is a "treat" to you?

Pics

sals_chicks

Songster
Jan 31, 2022
83
311
126
New England
Maybe this is a dumb question, but asking anyway because I am a newbie.

I have read SO MANY THINGS about what to feed my chickens, however vast majority says to make sure the "treats" you give your chickens does not exceed 10% of their overall diet for any given day. Yet, in so many posts, I see lots of people with seemingly small flocks offering whole cabbages, whole watermelons, large trays of salad materials and fruit etc etc etc... So it just seems contradictory?

Do veggies/fruit/sprouts/cabbage/lettuce etc not count as "treats?"
 
Maybe this is a dumb question, but asking anyway because I am a newbie.

I have read SO MANY THINGS about what to feed my chickens, however vast majority says to make sure the "treats" you give your chickens does not exceed 10% of their overall diet for any given day. Yet, in so many posts, I see lots of people with seemingly small flocks offering whole cabbages, whole watermelons, large trays of salad materials and fruit etc etc etc... So it just seems contradictory?

Do veggies/fruit/sprouts/cabbage/lettuce etc not count as "treats?"
Well I give my chickens and ducks bread and watermelon maybe once every 2 week! And they love'em!!!
 
Maybe this is a dumb question, but asking anyway because I am a newbie.

I have read SO MANY THINGS about what to feed my chickens, however vast majority says to make sure the "treats" you give your chickens does not exceed 10% of their overall diet for any given day. Yet, in so many posts, I see lots of people with seemingly small flocks offering whole cabbages, whole watermelons, large trays of salad materials and fruit etc etc etc... So it just seems contradictory?

Do veggies/fruit/sprouts/cabbage/lettuce etc not count as "treats?"
Welcome to the world of sweeping generalisations.:D
It seems to be based on the assumption that ordinary feed is going to be layers pellets/flock raiser/chick feed etc. The thing you need to notice is the word "commercial" is missing.
So there's your first clue. Chicken feed isn't quite so chicken feed when it comes to the money; money for web sites, blogs and of course the feed manufacturers.
Don't get me wrong. I buy commercial feed. I've fed commercial feed at one point or another to every chicken I've known. It's very convenient and probably works out cheaper and better for chickens than trying to make your own balanced feed.

Next you have to interpret that treat word. If you fed your chickens 50% caviar and 50% commercial feed they will probably do just fine even if they did start speaking Russian...well, we wouldn't want to feed them any of that sub standard caviar from anywhere else now would we.:p

On this site it seems treat foods are cracked corn, mealy worms and the high carb, fat, sugar and salt stuff some humans are so fond of.

Of course not everyone in the world does feed their chickens commercial feed but they seem to live. Some may say yes but they aren't getting optimal nutrition and are likely to suffer from health issues. Depends really doesn't it? It depends on what they get fed.
Stuff like salad, most fruits and veg are fine in the same relative quantities a human with some knowledge of healthy eating might eat.

Then there is the complex issue of the type of chickens you keep and how you keep them. If you keep free rangers you can wave that 10% goodbye and ime another 30% to 40% with it.

High production breeds are going to require more of some nutrients than a hen that lays say 100 eggs a year.

Let me give an alternative method of workiing out what to feed your chicken.
Find out what your weight should be for your height and build. Now go and stand on a set of scales. If you are more than 5% above the recommended weight for your build then feed your chickens the commercial feed and try and work out what 10% of their daily feed intake is.
If your about right on the scales you probably know what types of treats are bad for your chickens and engage the brain with that knowledge for another omnivor who if female has special calcium requirements.
 
A "treat" is anything other than a formulated balanced feed. It can be a nutrient dense feed like fish or vegetables or fluff like old cereal. I honestly abide by the rule of keeping food waste out of the landfill and composting/ feeding chickens everything possible. If I get motivated and clean out the pantry, it might be an excess of fluff. I'm not going to overthink it. Seconds on pie anyone?
 
As @Percheron chick says above, anything not a complete feed is a TREAT. It doesn't matter if its considered "healthy" in moderation or not - its a potential source of dietary imbalance.

Why 10% by weight? First, its a "thumb rule", it doesn't fit every example perfectly, nor is it intended to. Its basic guidance applicable to the majority of situations. Why weight? Because that's how chicken feed is measured. It helps us compare ingredients on equal basis.

Now, what happens at the extremes?

Dried BSFL - very popular treat. Its a very good complete protein source. That can't be bad, right? Its also a HIGHLY concentrated fat source, and a small increase in protein isn't nearly so beneficial as a large increase in fat is potentially detrimental. The normal range of recommends for a chicken's diet is protein between 16-20%. The normal range of recommends for fat, however, is about 2.5-5.0%. 10g of dried BSFL may raise the total protein of a chickens diet from 16% to around 19% - that's good, but it likely doubles the fat in the diet, from 3% to 6% or higher...

Something similar occurs with BOSS, another nutrient dense, low moisture source.

Watermelon and cucumbers - Very popular summertime treat, particularly chilled. Its almost all water (potentially over 96%). After accounting for that, it takes a LOT of watermelon,cuke, honeydew, etc to potentially imbalance a diet.

The middle ground, what the "thumb rule" best fits, is moderate moisture fruits and veggies (apples, grapes, carrots, greens) and dried grains (which are nutrient poor, in spite of low moisture levels).

The thumb rule is also intended to minimize the impact of anti-nutritional factors which may be present in the treat - tannins, lignins, trypsin inhibitors, beta glucans, oxalates, and a host of others.
 
I generally don't consider fruit and vegetable scraps "treats" -- because they'd be eating all the plant material they wanted when foraging in the run.

BUT, I don't overdo it by offering massive amounts (well, maybe a LOT of cucumber peels when I'm making pickles or plum skins when I'm making jam -- but what they don't eat becomes one with the bedding).

I'm much more careful with stale bread, meat remnants that might be too fatty or salty, etc.
 
Around here a treat is any edible that will immediately get any and all birds to cease chicken buisness for the shot at getting some.
If it causes that sort of chaos in a habitual creatures day then that's a treat.
Here it is bourbon fettuccini gummy candy, grape flavor only all other flavors are snubbed.
I save these 'treats' for times when I need everyone in one place quickly or if I need to medicate anyone.
It is unconventional but beyond effective.
My point is whatever treats you choose if any don't overdo and they'll serve you nicely in the future.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Back
Top Bottom