Chicken Treat Blocks

A lot of us have seen suet cakes made for wild birds, and many of us have seen similar “treat blocks” available in the feed store for chickens. Treat blocks are a great way to reduce boredom by mimicking natural foraging behavior. Our flock of chickens has a moveable run, so they have access to fresh grass and bugs, but I still worry about boredom. Boredom in a flock can cause feather pulling, egg eating, and other aggression problems.

But those treat blocks cost several dollars, and they last about two days. So I did what any frugal farmer would: I decided to make my own.

My initial recipe:

2 cups scratch grains

2 cups layer crumble

1 cup meal worms

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs

½ cup molasses

½ cup coconut oil

I mixed the dry ingredients together, along with the crushed up shells from the eggs I used. I melted the coconut oil and mixed it with the eggs and molasses. Combine the wet and dry ingredients – it should clump together, if it’s too dry add more eggs. Spread into square baking dish to about 1.5” thickness and bake at 300F for an hour.

I originally tried baking these at a higher temperature (350?) for a much shorter time – like 15 minutes. They were too soft and sticky to even get out of the pan. Baking them on a low heat for much longer allowed them to harden enough to be cut into blocks and removed from the pan.

My chickens really loved these treats. They would eat one a day, so I alternated between giving them one of these blocks and giving them kitchen scraps each day.  However, these blocks still felt very soft and crumbled easily, which was frustrating. So my new recipe doesn’t include the cinnamon, molasses, or coconut oil for a harder block, and takes 6 eggs instead of 3.

New recipe:

2 cups scratch grains

2 cups layer crumble

1 cup dried mealworms

6 eggs

Spread in a 8” square baking pan to about 1.5” thickness. Bake 300F for 1 hour. Cut into blocks and serve in treat/suet basket.

Note: you could add powdered supplements to this like cinnamon for respiratory health and cayenne for blood circulation. I don’t. It’s your call.