Chickens Can Get Bored, too!
This is a recipe for a homemade, DIY, easy flock block. It really is easy. I wasn’t sure when I found some recipes if I really wanted to tackle this so close to Christmas.
Chickens get bored just like we do. One reason is because they are so smart. In the winter months when there isn’t as many bugs or other exciting weeds growing in their run, it’s wise to give them something to do. This way, they won’t start pecking each other.
Chicken Boredom Buster
One kind of boredom buster is a flock block. This is full of yummy (for chickens, anyway) treats that can either hang or be place on a plate of some kind. It’s more fun for the chickens if it is hung. It will not only become a treat but also a game for the girls.
In the summer, we like to hang a cabbage on our grapevine structure and watch them play tetherball. It’s hilarious! If you find cabbage at an inexpensive price, it doesn’t hurt to keep one around most of the time, just for when you need to distract them.
Easy DIY Flock Block Directions
Let’s start with mentioning that this is soooo easy! Did I mention this already? And it makes your home smell amazing!
- 4 Cups of scratch grains (we used Cluck & Co.)
- 2 cups layer feed
- 2 cups oats (regular oatmeal oats, or whatever you have on hand)
- 1 Cup sunflower seeds (The kind with shells on is ok, more on this later)
- 1/2 Cup Whole wheat flour (or whatever you have is fine), I actually used white, unbleached
- 1/2 Cup flax seeds (or you can use wheat germ, wheat bran)
- 1/2 Cup of crushed egg shells or oyster grit
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (this keeps away parasites and helps their immune system)
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 Cup solid-at-room-tempurature oil (coconut or lard)
- 7 toss able bread pans (it is much easier to get this out of the flexible tin)
- 1 piece of wax paper
- 1 Chinese poker (that’s what my kids called it, chopsticks)
First, we will start with a large bowl, adding all of the dry ingredients together, mix those together well. Then mix the wet ingredients together. The coconut oil or lard does not have to be melted. I used a whisk for both of the mixtures.
The original recipe I modified stated that she used smaller pans, so she could give them treats more often. You’ll want to get them all situated at this point because your hands will be messy after mixing.
Now, you will want to mix this with your hands, it’s just easier this way. Take off any rings you are wearing and mix with your hands until you squeeze the mixture and it stays together.
Now, I grabbed a handful and added it to each pan. Use some wax paper to press the mixture firmly in each pan. I mostly did this because it was all stuck to my hands and wax paper helps the releasing process. If you want to hang your DIY Flock Blocks (you can also just position on a plate, however the hens will probably just knock it off), use your chopstick to poke a hole in the top so can thread with twine later.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. The finished product will turn brown. The hole may look like it has disappeared, just poke another hole after baking. Lastly, let it cool completely. For at least several hours, not even allowing it to be warm. It can fall apart if you take it out too soon. I was crazy and lazy and didn’t want to purchase 3 sets of pans, because I only needed 7. So I used one metal pan, that didn’t work so well. It’s not flexible enough to remove without breaking. And one flexible pan still wasn’t cool enough, I guess, so I have two loaves that came out a crumbled mess. Oops!
Take a sharp knife and run it around the edges of the pans to break the crust that is formed from the molasses from the pan. The recipe that I adapted this one from stated that she left hers overnight just to be sure because she had an accident with the first ones. Lastly, we added some twine through the holes!
Final tip: Don’t leave this flock block in the rain, it will dissolve. Place the extras in freezer bags because otherwise they will get rancid.
The girls playing tetherball with their Easy DIY flock block
Trying to get a still picture of the chickens pecking the flock block is a chore in itself. Yes, these are all hens. I didn’t name them. I won’t say who did. We got them all at the same time and they look alike, so it’s hard to tell them apart. The other three wouldn’t get in the picture.
Henrietta is our odd man out right now as our Wyandotte just passed away and she is getting pecked at by everybody. She had a hard molt and I think all the others girls thought she was sick too. The pecking hasn’t stopped. So as soon as the molting season is over, we are going to get at least 2 other Barred Rocks.
Pin for later!
- 4 Cups Scratch Grains (Usually cracked corn, oats, barley, etc(anything that is your feed store)
- 2 Cups Layer feed
- 2 Cups oats (regular oatmeal oats is fine)
- 1 Cup Sunflower seeds (with shells on is fine)
- 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (or any you have on hand, I just used white, unbleached)
- 1/2 Flax Seeds (or you can use Wheat Bran or wheat germ)
- 1/2 Cup Crushed Egg Shells or Oyster Grit
- 2 Tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (good to prevent parasites and for their immune system)
- 6 Eggs (for binder)
- 1 Cup Molasses
- 1 Cup solid-at-room-tempurature oil (coconut or Lard)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Mix the dry ingredients in one large bowl, and dry in a large or medium bowl.
- Lay out your pans around your large bowl
- Mix the dry into the wet ingredients with your hands, so take off any rings first. Mix until you can smoosh the mixture into a form that stays together.
- With one handful each press into a pan. Use wax paper to press firmly into each pan. Poke a hole with chopstick if you plan to hang them.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. These will turn dark brown and the holes might look like they've disapeared, but just repoke again after baking.
- Let cool for several hours. Until they are cool to the touch. These are very fragile at even warm tempuratures. If they do fall apart just place them on a plate. The chickens won't care.
Questions about home made flock blocks
Is is ok to feed chickens sunflower seeds with the shells on?
Yes, it is ok in the instance because they aren’t getting that many in one flock block. Normally, you wouldn’t want to give them sunflower seeds with shells on because chickens eat them whole and won’t break them open like wild birds do. Once in a while is ok for an occasional treat, but not every day. Since there is only 1 Cup in this mixture, the chances of the chicken getting too many to be able to digest is slim. Try not to constantly give chickens flock blocks. This will make sure they are getting their regular food as well.
I have 6 chickens and when I hung it up the first day they loved it but it is still out there 4 days later. I don’t know if I pressed it too much in the pan, so it is harder for them to peck apart. Or if it is because there is no snow covering the weeds and grass here in Ohio yet.
Can I substitute other ingredients if I don’t have some of these?
Sure! As long as you use a binder such as eggs, you can change it up. I have seen many variations on the internet. I almost used some of our meal worms instead of sunflower seeds. Anything that is safe for chickens should be ok. As noted, I used white flour because I didn’t have wheat.
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