In the winter I like to give my little chicken friends an extra treat. Just as I need more chocolate in the winter my birds need extra protein and fat too. My Dad likes feeding the birds that visit his garden in the UK. His main concern is keeping the squirrels from scoffing the lot but I know he hangs up bacon rind and nuts and seeds. I have therefore based my recipe for Chicken Winter Warmer Fat Balls along similar lines.
By the way, I like feeding my chickens for free (or for as little as possible) so use what you have and what you can spare rather than shop exclusively for your chicken treats.
Lard or suet, about 1 1/2 cups
Use a mixture of the following to make about 4-5 cups of dry ingredients:
Rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, bread crumbs, stale cake (not often available in my house!) left over grated cheese, currants/dried fruit
You can add a dollop of Peanut butter too if you like and some chopped up bacon rind.
You’ll need some plastic yoghurt pots or similar that you don’t mind cutting and some string.
Make a hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot, Thread a piece of string through the hole and tie a good strong knot. Keep the length of string fairly long; you’ll be hanging it from a tree.
Melt the lard or suet in a saucepan or microwave and mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Once combined, pack the yoghurt pots with the mixture and leave to set in the fridge. When set, carefully cut the dried mix out of the pot (you can use the pot again if you’re careful). If any bits fall off the cake just press them back on again.
Now you can hang it from a tree in your chicken coop. Hang it high enough so they have to jump to get it but not too high that they can’t reach it or might injure themselves trying.
My chickens size it up for a few seconds and then…..
Airbourne! There goes Twiggy! Is that a smile on her face? I think it is….
and Butch has a go too….
Munch, gobble, gobble, slurp…
What a great game for them on a rainy winter day!
You may think I’m molly-coddling my birds; perhaps I am. But, one of the main reasons I keep my feathered friends is that they furnish me with the most delectable, richly orange-yolked eggs that I’ve ever eaten. I value this and, as such, I like to feed them well. Hippocrates very wisely said, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
One last footnote I’d like to add….if you happen to have a dog, perhaps a chocolate Labrador say? Make sure you fix the hole in the chicken wire of the coop otherwise said dog might leap through the hole when your back is turned and casually snatch the aforementioned, lovingly prepared Winter Warmer Fat Ball and guzzle it down without blinking….you know who you are Coco…