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Treating your chooks over the festive season

It is that time of the year when we like to treat our loved ones but what about your chooks, surely they deserve a Christmas treat too? Products available can stimulate chickens to exhibit more of their natural behaviours, increase their enjoyment of life and improve their health and wellbeing.

Poultry Peckers

Chickens can get bored, especially if they are not getting positive reinforcement from foraging in their environment. This can lead to birds pecking each other, as they still want to exhibit their natural pecking behaviour, leading to some chooks being bullied and losing feathers. A great way to curb this behaviour is to give them something else to peck at, such as Topflite’s Poultry Pecker which is full of goodies such as grains, sunflower seeds, peas, garlic, mealworms and herbs. You can even try some homemade options to keep them occupied, such as a pumpkin with holes drilled in it.

Mealworms

The early bird gets the worm but with your help, the latecomers will get their chance too! Topflite Dried Mealworms are a healthy, nutritious snack filled with protein and for a summertime treat, why not make some mealworm ice cubes? Put a few in the cube tray, sprinkle in some herbs or grains and freeze. Set them out in a pan in the shade and your chooks will be kept busy for a while.

An automatic feeder

An automatic feeder, such as a
Feed-o-Matic, is a great Christmas pressie for your chooks, especially if you are heading away over Christmas and the neighbours are keeping an eye on them. The great thing about using an automatic feeder is that the chicken steps on a lever to open the lid (which they learn very quickly) thus keeping the food fresher for longer and  away from vermin and wild birds. It also ensures that your chickens have access to a buffet of layer feed, which helps to support egg production. Remember to keep your chooks topped up with fresh water this summer – water bowls connected to a reticulated water system are a great way to ensure birds have as much clean water as they want.

NRM Peck’n’Lay

Now you have got the automatic feed sussed, why not fill it with a high-quality chicken feed? NRM Peck’n’Lay is a premium layer feed designed to provide essential nutrients for egg production. With balanced energy and protein, vitamins and minerals, a natural yolk colourant extracted from marigold and paprika and essential oils to support optimum gut health – it will keep your chooks in optimum condition. Make sure feeders are always topped up with layer feed as this should be the main part of their diet.

Go big on their enclosure

Why not take advantage of the time off, buy some deer posts, a deer gate and fencing from Farmlands and super-size your chook’s foraging area? Space gives more chance for plants to survive and gives birds more space and freedom. Fruit trees can increase the production from the land, shelter birds from the sun and help them to feel safer.

For further information, contact your Nutrition Specialist or the friendly team at your local Farmlands store.

Article supplied by Stacey Cosnett, NRM Nutritionist.