Winter Treats and Holiday Goodies for Your Flock

white silkie chicken wearing christmas hat

The Christmas season is right around the corner and most of us look forward to some yummy food and a chance to celebrate the season. Gift giving is another common practice this time of year and our furry and feathered friends are often on our gift lists! Today, we are going to talk about some fun and easy “gifts” that our backyard flocks will love.

Food and Treat Ideas for Your Flock

Goody Garlands

Have you ever strung a popcorn garland as a decoration for your Christmas tree? Well, chickens absolutely LOVE popcorn. Stringing popcorn and hanging it somewhere in your coop or run is a fun and exciting gift for your chickens. I’m sure most of you have seen people hang cabbages or watermelons in the summer. Well, popcorn is a great winter option for your birds. I like to use a fringe design with a single dowel rod with multiple strings of popcorn coming down from the dowel – think macrame style! The birds will love pecking on the popcorn. Make sure your popcorn strings are in a place that the birds can easily reach. You should also take care to make sure the string is safe and secure so your birds are not injured or do not become tangled in the string after the popcorn is gone. If popcorn isn’t your favorite, any safe foodstuff can be used to make a festive Goody Garland. You could use a red and green theme with red and green apples or a fun combination of any red and green fruit or vegetable that is safe for your birds. For more information on safe food options, check out our article on Safe Foods for Chickens.

Henhouse Reserve® and Organic Henhouse Reserve®

If your flock is already eating Henhouse Reserve® or Organic Henhouse Reserve®, then you already know how much chickens LOVE this feed! If your birds haven’t had Henhouse Reserve® and you’re looking for a holiday treat for them, this feed is a great “gift” option. Hens fed Henhouse Reserve® are 3x more likely to choose Henhouse Reserve® over a standard layer pellet. Believe me, chickens absolutely love this feed! Another big advantage to choosing Henhouse Reserve® over other common snacks or treats is that Henhouse Reserve® won’t dilute the nutrient content of your complete feed if your birds eat a lot of it. It is also a complete feed! That means your birds can eat as much Henhouse Reserve® as they want, and their diet will stay well balanced. My girls will definitely get Henhouse Reserve® as part of their Christmas gift this year.

Poultry Blocks

A poultry block is a great holiday gift for your flock. Right now, our Henhouse Reserve® Winter Apple Candy block should be hitting the store shelves. These poultry blocks are so fun, they smell great, and they are an excellent addition to your coop or run during the winter season. Poultry blocks serve two major functions.
  1. Poultry blocks are great boredom busters. It’s quite common for birds to spend longer hours cooped up in the winter. Even if your birds do free-range, the food resources on pasture are starting to dry up and the hours enjoying the outdoors are dwindling each day. Poultry blocks are a great enhancement for your flock. The blocks provide entertainment for your birds by having something to peck on besides each other! Our poultry blocks are also designed to be solid and sturdy. This means the birds will be entertained for days, even weeks depending on the size of your flock!

  2. Poultry blocks also provide supplemental nutrition. A complete feed should be the primary source of nutrition for your flock. However, some supplemental nutrition in the cold winter months can help keep your birds healthy and strong. With the food resources found during free-ranging quickly disappearing, poultry blocks are excellent sources of extra nutrition to help fill that gap.

Leftovers and Kitchen Scraps

A big meal shared with my loved ones is better than any gift I could receive! The food and the festivities are my favorite parts of the holiday season. It’s natural to want to share some of our favorite holiday meals with our feathered friends. Chickens can eat almost anything that a human can eat. So, it is usually okay for our flocks to enjoy some of our holiday leftovers and a lot of our kitchen scraps. However, there are some rules to follow if you decide to share your big Christmas meal with your flock this season. If a human shouldn’t eat it, then avoid giving it to your chickens too. This would include any high-fat foods or anything that is very high in salt. Most vegetables and most meats are okay for your flock to consume. However, you should never feed moldy or rancid leftovers to your flock. I also avoid giving potato peels to my birds. Most of the time, potatoes peels won’t cause any issues. However, there is a chance that green potato peels can cause major health problems with your flock. So, to be extra cautious, I just avoid the potato peels all together. Vegetables, fruits (except for citrus), gourds, pumpkins, and nuts are excellent options for your flock. Just make sure that you don’t overdo this treat for your birds. All treats and extras should be limited to about 10-15% of total feed intake for your flock. Treating your birds to some great holiday goodies is a wonderful way to bond with your flock this season. I want my birds to enjoy their holiday “gifts.” I also want my birds to be good bio-recyclers. But, most of all, I want them to be healthy! If I wouldn’t (or shouldn’t!) eat it myself, I usually avoid giving it to my chickens.

Keeping poultry is such a wonderful experience and the rewards are many! At Kalmbach Feeds, we are always here to help. If you have any questions about the nutrient needs of your birds, feed options, or general poultry keeping, please let us know. We are excited to continue writing about all of the topics that are important to you and can’t wait to continue learning about your flocks. Stay tuned and thank you for choosing Kalmbach Feeds!


Nancy Jefferson, Ph.D.

Dr. Nancy Jefferson has been a member of the Nutrition and Technical Services team at Kalmbach Feeds since 2013. She received her Ph.D. from West Virginia University in 2008 and has worked in the feed industry for over 15 years. She lives on a farm in Crown City, OH with her husband, John, and their children. Dr. Jefferson is a passionate poultry enthusiast and loves her chickens! Together, she and her family raise beef cattle and she keeps an ever-growing flock of backyard chickens.