Make a ‘flock block’ for your backyard chickens

Amanda Riley
Special to the Black Mountain News

It isn't uncommon these days to have a small flock of hens in the backyard. We find much pleasure in our own little group of girls and enjoy watching them, hearing them, and of course, eating the delicious fresh eggs they lay almost daily.

They have a large area to explore, and we often let them into the open yard (with a watchful eye on them to make sure they don't eat all the kale or scratch up baby plants in the garden!) to scratch and explore some more.

They get bales of straw thrown into their yard to meticulously tear apart and black soldier fly larvae from the compost bin. Of course, there are regular treats in the form of kitchen scraps and such.

Every now and then, I feel like it's time to give them a little something extra. After all, we don't want the ladies getting bored. Bored chickens can be more likely to peck at and bully one another.

The scratch grains that the recipe calls for can be a commercial mix or a homemade mix of grains such as cracked corn, oats, barley, etc. Use whatever pans you'd like. Small round cake pans work well, and shaped mold pans can be fun. Any unused blocks can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for later use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 2 cups scratch grains with 1 cup each rolled oats, cornmeal and sunflower seeds and stir in a half cup raisins or dried cranberries and one teaspoon each of cinnamon and cayenne. Mix together a half cup coconut oil with four eggs (plus eggshells) and add to dry ingredients. Press mixture into greased pans. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until edges are browned and the middle is firm.

Flip pans over to remove blocks, let cool, then serve to your happy hens.