Giving treats to our pet birds is one of the ways to bond with them, and it also provides some additional nutrients to ensure their well-being. It's not only about constantly rewarding them; but also about teaching them how to behave well and rewarding them for good behavior. However, we must also consider their health while selecting the appropriate treats for them. Natural and organic narrows down the options in a good way but then again, not everything natural and organic is good for your birds (or maybe it would be but birds just don't like eating it). So we are on the lookout for something naturally nutritious, beneficial to their health, and also something they would consider to be tasty.
Here are a couple of our natural bird treat favorites:
Whole grains are recommended since they are readily available in any household and are beneficial to chickens. Grains are rich in fiber, carbohydrates, and a spectrum of B vitamins. Since there is a wide variety of grains, from wheat, barley and corn, their nutritional benefits are also different. Switching up the type of grain used ensures that you cover all bases when it comes to any potential nutrient deficiencies. If you are looking to add something new and experiment, you can also try fermenting your grains for an additional kick in beneficial bacteria which helps with the health of your chickens gut flora.
Fruits are among the healthiest sources of nutrition. Strawberries and watermelon are two of the most recommended fruit treats since they are high in vitamins A, C, and B9. Chickens, ducks and any other birds love eating berries as well, and they are packed in nutrients while low in sugar. The ones to be warry of are non-pitted apples, pears, and others because of the small amount of poisonous cyanide. When it comes to citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, they are quite healthy and can be fed in small quantities but chickens tend not to like them too much unless they are mixed with some other treats.
There is also a large variety of vegetables you can use as treats for your birds. Lettuce, broccoli, and kale are all excellent choices for greens. Vegetables, just like fruits, are fed not because they help to ensure sufficient calorie intake. They are quite a poor choice if getting extra calories in is the objective. The main reason why they are a good treat is because they cover many gaps in various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and others. Some vegetables to avoid would be avocado skins and pits, green potato as well as tomato and potato leaves, all of which are known to be toxic to chickens.
The list would be incomplete without some grubs. Make sure your birds get a healthy amount of proteins, vitamins, and minerals by including grubs in the diet of your birds. The two main insect larvae fed to chickens are mealworms and black soldier fly larvae. Black Soldier Fly Larvae has proven to be slightly superior to mealworms when it comes to poultry due to it being much richer in essential Calcium, as well as immuno-protective pre and post-biotics which boost your birds' immune system. This is the reason why black soldier fly larvae, aka BSF, became a much sought after treat with both those new to poultry keeping as well as experienced poultry keeping veterans. Your birds deserve only the greatest treats, so why not give them something healthy, nutritious, and environmentally friendly.
Treats are treats and as such should not be confused with feed, which your birds diet should mainly consist of. A standard layer feed topped with treats with 5-25% inclusion is enough to ensure your birds get both sufficient energy as well as optimum nutrients to stay active, produce plenty of eggs and maintain their health.