Hedgerow Henporium’s brilliant warm mash recipe!

Last year we shared this amazing warming winter mash recipe from our friends at Hedgerow Henporium. Our followers loved it and now that winter is coming around again we thought it was the perfect time to share it so you can keep your hens happy and healthy this winter!

Chicken feed bucket

Warm mash keeps chickens healthy!

This recipe is not only delicious for hens but healthy and nutritious too. They’ll love pecking at the veg and they’ll get all the added vitamins they need from the “hidden” ingredients including calcium and cod liver oil.

You’ll need a large shallow dish to mix and serve the mash in.

Ingredients and method:

Use layers pellets (or your normal chicken feed) as the base which should make up about half the quantity of the other ingredients below.

Add any combination of the following veg – a few handfuls or enough for the veg to be visible will be enough:

  • Frozen sweetcorn
  • Frozen cabbage
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen spinach

To the vegetable and chicken feed mix add:

  • A tablespoon of cod liver oil
  • A tablespoon of poultry spice
  • A splash of poultry multivitamins
  • A teaspoon of cider vinegar
  • A tablespoon of garlic flakes
  • A tablespoon of ground up egg shells (for calcium) or a teaspoon of liquid calcium (optional)
  • A handful of raw flax seed/pumpkin seed
  • A handful of porridge oats (optional)
  • A single drop of oregano or thyme essential oil (very overpowering if used to excess) optional

Mix with enough water (preferably warm water) so that the mixture has a porridge like consistency. It shouldn’t be too runny and the mixture will probably get slightly thicker if you leave it to stand.

You can add more poultry spice to improve the smell – although chickens don’t seem to mind!

Once the mash is ready, just stand back and watch them eat with gusto!

Alternative combinations:

  1. Soak haricot, or other dried beans, overnight and cook for an hour. Stir this into the basic mix. You could also add cooked lentils.
  2. Boil vegetable peelings, including potato, and add the peelings with the cooking water to the basic mix. (Be sure not to use onion or garlic peelings.)

If you liked this recipe you can find more, plus great advice and poultry related discussions, at the brilliant blog – Hedgerow Henporium Chicken Chat.

Image source: South West Pine

Warming winter treats for your chickens

With winter on its way we thought we’d share last year’s post on warming winter treats for chickens. Remember, when the weather gets cold the extra calories in treats will help keep your hens warm and happy.

Chicken treats - mealworms

Chickens love mealworms!

Anyone who has seen chickens knows how much they love scratching around for tasty morsels but when winter comes your chooks might have trouble finding enough food to keep them occupied.

But have no fear, there are plenty of tempting treats you can give your chickens in addition to their usual food that will keep them entertained, not to mention warm, right through until spring.

Here are some of our favourite titbits for chickens in the winter:

A brilliant breakfast!

Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day just for humans – chickens also feel the benefit of a healthy, filling breakfast. Try mixing a small handful of porridge oats, a large portion of their usual pellets, and some warm water to make a nutritious warm mash.

Winter weight gain!

Just like people chickens tend eat more fatty foods in the winter so keep foods like bacon rind and fatty meat trimmings for your chooks to peck at.

In moderation fatty scraps are a good source of protein and will help your flock keep at a healthy weight when it gets cold. Another good source of protein is mealworms which you can find at the majority of pet shops.

chickens eating corn

Corn keeps your warm!

Corn keeps you warm!

As well as feeding a warm mash at breakfast time you can also feed your chickens a small amount of corn before shutting them up for the night. A handful of corn will fill them up and keep them warm overnight which can be especially useful when the temperature really drops.

Try it “on the cob”, canned, raw, and cooked until you find your flocks’ favourite!

One of your five a day!

With the grass and plants gone for the winter it’s important to make sure your hens still get enough fruit and veg to keep them healthy.

You can also turn feeding time into a form of entertainment by hanging veg such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in their chicken run. Not only will they get important nutrients they’ll also have fun pecking at the veg all day.

A word about water…

Although this post is about winter food for chickens poultry keepers often find that they have a harder job keeping their chickens hydrated, rather than full, during the winter.

Try wrapping the water drinker in bubble wrap, insulating foam, or felt to stop it freezing overnight. You can also add slightly warm water to the drinker in the morning to keep it from freezing during the day.

Some poultry keepers also remove the water at night and replace it when they let their flock out in the morning. Many chicken keepers report that their chickens don’t drink at night so this might be the answer if you can’t find a way of preventing the water from freezing.

Stay tuned this afternoon to see a brilliant warm mash recipe from our friends at Hedgerow Henporium!

Image source: Backyardchickens.com

Preparing your chicken house for winter

Chickens in the snowA safe, dry house is essential if you’re going to have healthy hens, especially during the winter months. Depending on where you live you might need to make more preparations for winter than chicken keepers living in warmer climates.

For example, if you’re in the north of England or Scotland you might need to think about hen house heaters or heated water bowls for this winter.

If you live in the south of England you probably won’t need to resort to extra heat for your hens, but having a heated water bowl could save you having to break the ice every day.

Here are some other things that all chicken keepers, regardless of their location, need to do before the cold sets in.

Give your chicken house a good clean

Whether you’re planning on using a deep litter method during the winter or not it’s best to start the winter with a clean chicken house.

Clear all of the bedding out and give the house a good scrub with a pet safe disinfectant. Make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies!

It’s also a good idea to treat your house with a mite and lice product, even if your birds haven’t shown any sign of having an infestation.

Don’t forget your accessories

Now is the time to give all of your chicken house extras, such as perches, next boxes, grit tubs, and feeders, a really good clean. If anything is broken, or doesn’t come clean with a good scrub, it might be time to replace it.

When you’re done, give everything a good rinse and leave to dry in the sun whilst you clean the rest of the chicken house.

Check for wear and tear

If you’ve bought a good quality chicken house it should have a long working life with minimum maintenance, but it’s still a good idea to check your chicken house is up to the winter weather conditions.

Check your chickens, or pests, haven’t damaged the house and that all of the fixtures are in good working order. Do the doors close properly? Are any of the metal fittings rusty? If you can answer yes, then now is the time to fix it.

Make sure your run is up to scratch

Many chicken keepers prefer to restrict their hens to a run during the winter months to limit the damage done to the garden or field. If you only use a run during the winter then it’s important to check it’s still safe and secure after being stored for the summer.

Just as with your chicken house, give it a good clean and check the wire, wood, and any metal fittings. You might also want to add extra layers of wire to make it harder for hungry predators to get to your flock.

Stock up on bedding and feed

Long nights and difficult weather conditions can make it harder to get your poultry essentials. If you’ve got a dry, vermin free space it’s a good idea to stock up on bedding and feed so you don’t find yourself in a fix if weather conditions stop you getting to the pet shop.

Hedgerow Henporium’s brilliant warm mash recipe!

When our friends at Hedgerow Henporium heard we were discussing warming winter treats this week they were only too happy to give us a recipe for a delicious warm mash!

Chicken feed bucket

Warm mash keeps chickens healthy!

This recipe is not only delicious for hens but healthy and nutritious too. They’ll love pecking at the veg and they’ll get all the added vitamins they need from the “hidden” ingredients including calcium and cod liver oil.

You’ll need a large shallow dish to mix and serve the mash in.

Ingredients and method:

Use layers pellets (or your normal chicken feed) as the base which should make up about half the quantity of the other ingredients below.

Add any combination of the following veg – a few handfuls or enough for the veg to be visible will be enough:

  • Frozen sweetcorn
  • Frozen cabbage
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen spinach

To the vegetable and chicken feed mix add:

  • A tablespoon of cod liver oil
  • A tablespoon of poultry spice
  • A splash of poultry multivitamins
  • A teaspoon of cider vinegar
  • A tablespoon of garlic flakes
  • A tablespoon of ground up egg shells (for calcium) or a teaspoon of liquid calcium (optional)
  • A handful of raw flax seed/pumpkin seed
  • A handful of porridge oats (optional)
  • A single drop of oregano or thyme essential oil (very overpowering if used to excess) optional

Mix with enough water (preferably warm water) so that the mixture has a porridge like consistency. It shouldn’t be too runny and the mixture will probably get slightly thicker if you leave it to stand.

You can add more poultry spice to improve the smell – although chickens don’t seem to mind!

Once the mash is ready, just stand back and watch them eat with gusto!

Alternative combinations:

  1. Soak haricot, or other dried beans, overnight and cook for an hour. Stir this into the basic mix. You could also add cooked lentils.
  2. Boil vegetable peelings, including potato, and add the peelings with the cooking water to the basic mix. (Be sure not to use onion or garlic peelings.)

If you liked this recipe you can find more, plus great advice and poultry related discussions, at the brilliant blog – Hedgerow Henporium Chicken Chat.

Image source: South West Pine

Warming winter treats for your chickens

Following yesterday’s post about keeping chickens happy in winter here are some warming winter treats to keep your chooks entertained and well fed during the colder months.

chickens eating corn

Corn keeps your warm!

Anyone who has seen chickens knows how much they love scratching around for tasty morsels but when winter comes your chooks might have trouble finding enough food to keep them occupied.

But have no fear, there are plenty of tempting treats you can give your chickens in addition to their usual food that will keep them entertained, not to mention warm, right through until spring.

Here are some of our favourite titbits for chickens in the winter:

A brilliant breakfast!

Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day just for humans – chickens also feel the benefit of a healthy, filling breakfast. Try mixing a small handful of porridge oats, a large portion of their usual pellets, and some warm water to make a nutritious warm mash.

Winter weight gain!

Just like people chickens tend eat more fatty foods in the winter so keep foods like bacon rind and fatty meat trimmings for your chooks to peck at.

In moderation fatty scraps are a good source of protein and will help your flock keep at a healthy weight when it gets cold. Another good source of protein is mealworms which you can find at the majority of pet shops.

Corn keeps you warm!

As well as feeding a warm mash at breakfast time you can also feed your chickens a small amount of corn before shutting them up for the night. A handful of corn will fill them up and keep them warm overnight which can be especially useful when the temperature really drops.

Try it “on the cob”, canned, raw, and cooked until you find your flocks’ favourite!

One of your five a day!

With the grass and plants gone for the winter it’s important to make sure your hens still get enough fruit and veg to keep them healthy.

You can also turn feeding time into a form of entertainment by hanging veg such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in their chicken run. Not only will they get important nutrients they’ll also have fun pecking at the veg all day.

A word about water…

Although this post is about winter food for chickens poultry keepers often find that they have a harder job keeping their chickens hydrated, rather than full, during the winter.

Try wrapping the water drinker in bubble wrap, insulating foam, or felt to stop it freezing overnight. You can also add slightly warm water to the drinker in the morning to keep it from freezing during the day.

Some poultry keepers also remove the water at night and replace it when they let their flock out in the morning. Many chicken keepers report that their chickens don’t drink at night so this might be the answer if you can’t find a way of preventing the water from freezing.

Stay tuned this afternoon to see a brilliant warm mash recipe from our friends at Hedgerow Henporium!

Image source: Backyardchickens.com

How to keep your chickens happy this winter

Winter is looming so we thought it was important to talk about how to keep your hens happy from the moment you see the first sign of frost right through until spring.

Chickens in the snow

Chickens in the snow

With the cold season on the horizon now is the time to think about how you’re going to keep your chickens happy and healthy this winter. The majority of chicken breeds are fairly hardy and capable of coping with colder temperatures, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a bit of extra comfort when the nights start closing in.

Here are some tips and tricks to keep your flock happy until spring:

Spruce up your chicken house

Safe, dry shelter is essential for a healthy flock so now is the time to make any repairs to your house. Check for any leaks, holes in the wire, wear and tear, or any other damage.

If you’re going to give your chicken house a new coat of paint we recommend the Cuprinol Ducksback range as it provides your house with a waterproof coating and should last for five years.

Heaters

If you’re a UK poultry keeper you probably don’t need a heater for your chicken coop as temperatures rarely drop low enough to harm your birds. For many people the potential for a fire caused by the heater outweighs the thought of toasty warm chickens snug in their house.

Also be sure not to seal the house up completely – good ventilation is vital for healthy chickens and helps prevent moisture build up.

Deep litter = warm hens

If you’re worried about how cold your hens get then try using the deep litter method of bedding to generate more warmth. This method involves allowing the bedding and chicken poo to build up through the warmer months so that by winter the composting material will give off heat and warm the poultry house naturally.

Let them free range

As lovers of poultry we know they aren’t stupid so don’t keep them shut in for the winter just in case they get cold. Let them go about their normal routine and if they get cold they’ll head inside.

If you’re not around when it gets dark and you’re worried about predators then why not invest in an automatic door for your coop? That way you know your flock are safely shut away without needing to be there to close the door yourself.

Tasty treats

Variety is the spice of life and when it comes to feeding poultry we all know how much they love trying something new. Hanging a head of cabbage or a corn on the cob in the coop will keep them occupied when it’s too miserable to be outside.

If you’re concerned about them stopping laying or losing weight then a feed of warm oatmeal or corn at bedtime can plump them up, help them stay warm overnight, and keep them laying.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we’ll be talking all about the tasty treats you can feed your hens!

Image source: Pinterest/Stella “Star” Humphreys