Easy Herb Gelatin Treats for Chickens (or humans, I guess!)

With the heat on the rise I have been looking for ways to help keep my small flock cool.

Fresh Eggs Daily had a great post on Beating the Heat. This is my favorite chicken site. Tons of information. The post gave me an idea. I could make Homemade Healthy Gummie Snacks for my chickens! They were such a hit with the kids, the chickens were bound to love them!

I found out that not only could chickens eat gelatin, but gelatin is actually good for them. Just like in humans, gelatin helps support health hair, skin and nails. It is also aids digestion and soothes the digestive tract. Sounds like a winning combo for chickens. And to clarify, gelatin is made form the bones and hooves of bovine. It is not made from chicken products. No cannibalism here.

You can make these treats from the herb of your choice. Or you could not use herbs at all. Maybe just use fruit. Or a fruit herb combo. How ever you make them this is a healthy treat that can help your chicken keep its cool.

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Ingredients:

2 cups herbal infusion (How to make a Water Infusion)

1 cup cold water, fruit juice, or fruit puree (I used strawberries and blackberries (this is a great opportunity to use up that frost bitten fruit you have in the freezer ;))).

4 packs  unflavored 1/4 oz gelatin (you buy it here or any grocery store in the Jello section)

First thing you need to do is make an herbal infusion. Since I want to cool my chickens I decided to go with mint. It has natural cooling properties. Since mint is a strong herb, I only filled my infusion jar 1/4 of the way.

Bring your finished infusion to a boil in a 2 quart pot.

Remove from heat.

Slowly add gelatin while mixing.

Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just blend it by hand with a wisk or fork. I love my immersion blender and I highly recommend one. You can buy the one I have here or at walmart.

Add cold water juice (or fruit juice or puree).

Blend until smooth.

Pour liquid into a greased, 3 qt 9×13 casserole dish.

Place casserole dish in fridge.

Allow to sit for 1-4 hours (or until firm).

Cut into squares the size of your choice. I like 1/2″ squares.

Serve to chickens.

Watch the chickens steal them from each other and chase each other for the last bit! They LOVE THEM! I tried them as well. I don’t prefer mint jello but I can tell you for sure it has that great cooling effect!

If you made  your own flavor and the chickens didn’t like it, you can put the cubes back into the pot and reheat them until liquid. Try adding something you know they love, like strawberries or bananas. Then re-pour, refrigerate and serve again. Have fun! Try new flavors and let me know which one your chickens like best!

Here is my flock enjoying their gelatin treat! Ravenous!

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Look how sad my little Mango is. The girls stole all the treats! 😦

 

Fermented Chicken Feed

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The women in my Ladies Homestead Gathering group introduced me to fermented chicken feed. Bascially it is feed that has been soaking in water for a few days.

Why the heck would you want to soak your chicken feed? For me, I was concerned about mice and saving money. How does fermented chicken feed keep mice away? Well, the chickens love fermented feed and eat every crumb of it, leaving nothing for the mice to eat. How does fermented feed save me money? As I said, THE CHICKENS LOVE FERMENTED FEED and eat EVERY crumb of it. They don’t scratch through it and only eat the bits they like, spilling the rest on the ground (FOR THE MICE TO EAT!)

For those two reasons alone I was willing to try fermenting my chicken’s feed. But knowing that my chickens also absorb more nutrients from the fermented feed is another fantastic benefit. Fermented feed is also said to help chickens recover from molting more quickly. There are so many more benefits from fermented feed. Here is a great article on Fermented Chicken Feed from Natural Chicken Keeping.

Most of the methods I have heard of use a two 5 gallon buckets, one with holes drilled in the bottom. Put the feed in the bucket with holes drilled in the bottom then place the bucket inside of bucket number 2 (without the holes). Pour water over the feed until covered. Let it sit for 3 days, keeping the feed covered with water. On day 3, lift the bucket containing the feed out of bucket 2 and allow the water to drain into bucket 2. Serve to chickens.  This is a simple method that works well for larger flocks.

I have 5 chickens. I don’t need that much feed. Heres my method. I found this method on OhLardy.com . It works great for me and I wanted to share it along with a few tips I learned along the way.

What you need:

3 jars with lids

chicken feed

water

 

Start small!20140507_081125

I made the mistake of making a large batch before I would know if my chickens would eat it or not. I’m new with chickens, and my chickens are babies. They are still trying new things and are not sure of everything I put in front of them. So I made 2 cups of fermented feed for 3 days and the chickens wouldn’t touch it. 6 cups of feed went to waste (I WAS PISSED).

I have 5 Buff Orphington Chickens. They are about 10 weeks old. I have found that 1.5 cups of dry feed is right amount for them. You will have to adjust this for the size of your flock. And remember start small. Maybe try 1/2 a cup for the first 3 batches, then move up once you feel confident. We DON’T want to waste feed.

Also, if your chickens try it, look at you like your crazy then walk away (like mine did). Try adding dry feed on top of the fermented feed. Or maybe a few meal worms or other treat. My girls don’t like to try anything new but once I coax ONE of them into trying something the others will join in. My girls go crazy for the stuff now!

Use a larger jar!

If your new to fermenting anything, like me, you will quickly learn that fermented stuff bubbles and expands. Use a jar that is about twice the size of the amount of feed you’ll be using. If you don’t have big enough of a jar, you will have a stinky mess on your counter.

Use paper towels!20140512_071527 (1)

Even if you use a larger jar, sometimes the fermentation process can get a little wild and still manage to bubble over leaving a stinky mess on your counter. Make a little paper towel mat for under your jars. Better safe than sorry.

 

The Process:

Dump feed in jars.

Add water until all feed is wet and covered by about 1″. You may have to stick a knife in the feed and dig around to get water to the bottom feed.

Put lid tightly on jar.

Write the number “1, 2, or 3” on top of the lid depending on what day of the 3 day cycle you are on.

Set jar on paper towel mat on counter.

Repeat process every day for 3 days.

At the beginning of day 4, feed the contents of the day 1 jar to your chickens. Clean out the jar and begin the process again.

Thats it.

If its too wet when you serve it to your chickens, just add a little dry feed.

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A few ideas:

I have read about adding whey to the feed before you add water. I haven’t made Whey yet, but I will be trying that soon and I’ll let you know how that goes. I add garlic to the feed before I add water. You can also add vinegar if you like. I add vinegar to their water so I don’t want to over do it. I’m thinking you could add seeds and they will sprout, but I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if the fermentation process will stop the sprouting process. Like I said, I’m new to fermenting. But I’ll give it a try and let you know how that goes, or if you try it let me know how it goes for you!

Please let me know how your first time fermenting feed goes, or if you have any tips or tricks to share!

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Do what you can with what you have (where you are)

There is a quote that I have been living by the past few years. Until recently,  I never knew who said it and apparently I havent been saying it correctly either.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” Theodore Roosevelt

I think this is one of the unwritten rules that homesteaders live by. We make the most of what we have. We don’t have to have the biggest and the best (unless of course that’s what the job calls for).

Most of the homesteaders I know have a stock pile of used glass jars and egg cartons. They also have compost piles and make vinegar from their apple scraps and when the vinegar is finished fermenting they give the apples scraps to their chickens as a snack.

I know that I have so many things that I want to accomplish on our land. I have many dreams and goals for our property. But I also know that I need to pace myself and be happy with what I have. Become an expert on what I have. Improve on what I have. Once I have done the most I can with what I already have, I can pursue my other goals, when we can afford to do so.

It’s hard to have dreams sometimes. There is a lot that I would like to do to our home and property but I have to feed my family before I buy new ceiling fans (because God knows those brass ones need to go!). Until then, the lights turn on and the room feels cool. And I can always paint the brass to help ease the suffering eyes.

Being a first time homesteader I have a lot to catch up on. But I have to remind myself that in order for our homestead to thrive, I have to do what is best for it. I have to spend money wisely and prioritize my projects. I have to keep myself from comparing other people’s homesteads to my own.

"Comparison is the Thief of Joy" - Theodore Roosevelt Photo courtesy of Karen Kastner

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Photo courtesy of Karen Kastner