Fresh Eggs Daily

Apple Treats For Your Chickens

It's apple season! Local apples are plentiful at farmer's markets, in the grocery store and if you're lucky, on the trees on your property. We feed our horses the apples from our trees when we can and store-bought apples other times of the year, and when we have extras, I like to treat the chickens with fun apple treats. Chickens love apples, and the skins and flesh are nutritious treats. One warning: Apple seeds contain cyanide, so be sure to core or otherwise remove any seeds before feeding apples to your flock.)  Here are some fun ideas for Apple Treats for your Chickens: 

stuffed ingredients
Stuffed Apples - For this fun treat I use three or four apples, 1/2 Cup of natural unsalted peanut butter, 1/2 Cup of unsalted almonds and 1/2 Cup of dried cranberries. You can substitute raisins, sunflower seeds or another nut if you wish.

cored apple
Wash and core the apples, leaving the bottom intact. Grind the almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor and mix with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Stuff each apple.

 stuffed apples 

  Your chickens will love pecking at the peanut butter and then eating the apple, which ends up being rolled around the run as they fight to get all the peanut butter out. Be sure to provide them plenty of fresh water anytime you feed them something sticky like peanut butter. 
 hanging garland 

Apple Garlands - Using butcher's twine, thread diced apples, zucchini and popcorn into garlands to hang in the run. You can also string cranberries, grapes, or sliced banana, zucchini or beets. 
 Hang the garlands in the run for the chickens to peck at. Just be sure to remove the strings once they eat the treats so they don't pull them down and possibly choke on them.
Hanging Apples - You can also wash and core whole apples and hang them in the run. The chickens will work on them slowly, enjoying pecking at them at they hang.
 hanging apples 
So next time you buy a bag of apples, set a few aside for your chickens to enjoy!
Join us on Facebook at Fresh Eggs Daily and Ducks Too and also on our blog Fresh Eggs Daily for more tips, tricks and advice on raising a healthy flock as naturally as possibly.


Growing Root Vegetables for your Chickens

Autumn is the season for root vegetables. I love growing things underground because they are the one crop the rabbits don't eat from our garden and they are largely protected from insect damage also. 

It's so exciting to tug gently on the greens and watch as a beautiful vegetable emerges from the warm soil. Of course I plant extra to share with the chickens, now that the summer garden is depleted and their supply of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers has dwindled.

Here are some of my observations regarding feeding root vegetables to our flock:
Beets - YES! Beet greens and stalks are a favorite of both our chickens and ducks and both also like the beet itself. They can eat them raw or cooked.

The ducks have an easier time if you chop or grate raw beets, but the chickens will happily peck away at them as long as I slice them in half.

Beets are extremely nutritious and have blood cleansing properties, so they are a good treat choice for your flock. Just don't panic if you see hot pink or teal poop in the run after a beet-fest!
Carrots - YES! We always have carrots on hand for our horses. We also grow them in our garden. The chickens and ducks love the carrot tops and will also eat carrot peels.

Whole raw carrots should be chopped or grated, especially for the ducks to manage, but cooked carrots are fine for them all to eat in any shape or size.

As an added bonus, the beta-carotene in the carrots will turn their egg yolks a brilliant orange.

I also add carrots to the twice yearly pumpkin seed, garlic natural worm preventative I feed our flock.
Garlic - YES! There is a lot of conflicting information online about feeding garlic to chickens. Although part of the allium family which includes shallots, onions and chives, all of which can be toxic, garlic has natural antibiotic and immune system boosting properties. It also helps repel parasites such as ticks, fleas, mites and lice.

I feed my chicks minced fresh garlic in the brooder. I also add garlic powder to my laying hens daily feed. I have also floated whole garlic cloves in the waterers. In fact, I consider garlic to be one of the foundations of raising a healthy flock. Could garlic be toxic in large quantities? I suppose, but couldn't almost anything?

I can only tell you what works for me and how I choose to raise my flock, and I can tell you unequivocally that small amounts of garlic are not toxic - and are most likely very beneficial.
Onions - NO! Onions contain a toxin that destroys red blood cells. Onions don't have the same health benefits as garlic, so any possible positives gained by feeding onions are far outweighed by the potential for them to be fatal.

Excessive amounts of raw or cooked onion can cause anemia or jaundice in your hens. I never knowingly feed our flock onion, but if they end up eating small amounts, in restaurant leftovers for example, it probably won't kill them.

Bottom line, try to avoid onion in any form but don't worry if they inadvertently eat some.

From our pinterest 'Gardening' board

Parsnips - YES! Parsnips are a nutritious food source for your flock. They are related to carrots and parsley and can be fed raw or cooked. But again, raw parsnips are more easily consumed if they are grated or chopped.
Photo courtesy of 1840 Farm

Potatoes - NO! Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family. The leaves and vines are toxic to chickens. To make matters worse, the skins, especially green skins, contain the toxin solanine. The green color signals higher concentrations of the toxin. The flesh also contains solanine, although in smaller quantities. I feed potatoes very infrequently, if ever, and never any green potatoes, peels, leaves or vines.

Fortunately, solanine is poorly absorbed and rapidly excreted by mammals, so small amounts of potato flesh as long as it isn't green most likely won't be fatal, but potatoes have very little nutritional value anyway, so they aren't an optimal treat. I would recommend refraining from feeding potatoes to your flock, but like onions, if they eat some cooked potato mixed in with leftovers it probably won't kill them.
Photo courtesy of 1840 Farm

Radishes - YES! The chickens will love both radishes and radish leaves. Again, radishes are much easier for the chickens to eat if they are grated or chopped first.
sweet potato
Sweet Potatoes - YES! Oddly enough, sweet potatoes are not a member of the nightshade family like the white potato. They are a member of the morning glory family and do not contain the toxin solanine, so they are perfectly safe to feed to your chickens, along with the leaves.

Sweet potatoes contain loads of vitamins and nutrients. Your chickens will love sweet potato, but like most other hard veggies, cooked or grated is going to be the easiest way for the chickens and ducks to eat them.
Photo courtesy of 1840 Farm

Turnips - YES! Turnips and turnips tops are a great healthy treat, although the chickens have an easier time with them if the turnips are grated or cooked and mashed.

You can also toss a halved turnip in the run and it will keep them busy for quite some time pecking at it or put a whole turnip in a hanging basket for them to nibble on.

As with any new food, your chickens might view these root vegetables with much suspicion and you may have to try offering a particular treat several times before a few brave souls will give it a try. But be persistent and they will eventually dive in!

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 profile pic 

Make your own Apple Cider Vinegar

Did you know that you can make your own apple cider vinegar with just some apple peels and cores, sugar, water...and a bit of patience? I didn't know either until I started doing a bit of research.
finished acv
We use lots of apple cider vinegar on our farm for its wide array of health benefits for us and for our chickens. I consider it one of the 'Holistic Trinity' of chicken keeping and vital to my and my husband's health, as well as a key ingredient in any good pie crust!

Adding apple cider vinegar to our chickens' water a few times a week not only makes the water more appealing to them, it also keeps the waterers cleaner and controls the bacteria both in the water and in the hens' digestive system. The vinegar boosts good bacteria and is thought to also even combat coccidia, which is present in most chicken runs, no matter how fastidiously they are cleaned.
Apple cider vinegar with the 'mother' in it, such as Bragg's, is raw and unpasteurized and has the most benefits. The mother is basically a yeast/live bacteria natural concoction that helps balance bacteria in the intestines of humans AND chickens. However, it's not cheap and we go through quite a lot of it, so I started researching how to make my own.

There are tons of blog posts and articles about making your own apple cider vinegar. I looked for the cheapest, easiest way I could find that seemed to yield good results on a consistent basis. Mother Earth News published an article that was the most straightforward of any I read (link below) and sure enough, it's not only easy, but you only need apples, sugar and water....and some canning jars and cheesecloth. No special kits or ingredients.
apple peels
So the next time you bake an apple pie, save the peels and cores and make a batch of apple cider vinegar for yourself.

Here's how to do it:

Wash, peel and core 5-10 (preferably organic) apples. Another nice thing is that there's no set amount, you can make as much or as little as you want.

apples in water
Place the peels and cores in a large glass or stoneware bowl and cover with water by an inch or so. Add 1/4 Cup of sugar for each quart of water you used and stir to mix thoroughly.

Cover the bowl with a heavy plate. The apple scraps need to be completely submersed in the water. Cover the whole thing with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for a week in a cool dark location. Between 65-85 degrees is a good fermentation temperature range, and be sure to keep it in a dark place, because UV light destroys the fermentation process.

The mixture will begin to bubble and foam as yeast forms. That's normal and in fact by Day 3, I had bubbling!
foaming apples
When the week is up, spoon off any black mold that has grown. That's also okay and will occur if the mixture isn't kept cool enough, but if you keep the bowl in a cool spot you shouldn't have any mold.

Strain out the apple solids and pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars, leaving about an inch of head room and discard the solids. Cover each canning jar with a square of doubled cheesecloth and screw just the ring part of the top on. (Hang onto the flat parts of the lids, you'll need them later) This allows the yeast to 'breathe' and prevents the metal from corroding.
Store the jars on a shelf in your pantry and wait about six weeks. A film should start forming on the top. The is the 'mother'. You can open up the jars and stir or swirl them so the mother settles on the bottom and more will grow on top.
mother acv
After six weeks, replace the cheesecloth with the flat part of the lid and screw the ring back on. Stored in a cool, dark place, the apple cider vinegar will last indefinitely. By this point the yeast will have eaten all the available sugars and you will be left with a 'shelf-stable' vinegar. The flavor will develop and evolve over time.

Note: If you save some of the mother from each batch and add it to the next batch, the vinegar will be finished more quickly. It's been hard waiting the six weeks for my first batch, but I have several batches started now that will finish at the end of consecutive weeks, so I will always have a batch of homemade apple cider vinegar ready going forward.


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The Holistic Trinity - Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and DE

I firmly believe in an ounce of prevention.  In fact, wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who said 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' ?  He was a smart man - and I bet he wasn't even talking about chickens when he said that!


But he was right, it's far easier (and cheaper) to keep your chickens' immune systems strong and healthy and give them the best chance at fighting off illness and infections themselves than to try and treat something after they have contracted it.  Being the ultimate prey animal and being part of a pecking order that preys on the weaker members of the flock, chickens work very hard to hide signs of any illness or injury, so often by the time you see any symptoms, it is too late to treat whatever is wrong.

Because of this, in addition to the layer feed mix  I give to our chickens, I also supplement their diet with what I call the 'Holistic Trinity' of healthy chickens: Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and Diatomaceous Earth. 

The Holistic Trinity  

First in the Trinity is APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. 

It's great for their immune systems, guards against bad bacteria and maintains digestive health in the intestines by lowering the pH levels and is an overal health booster.  It increases calcium absorption so your chickens will get more 'bang for the buck' from the eggshells or oyster shell you provide them.  ACV aso acts as an antiseptic by killing the germs that cause respiratory problems - which chickens are extremely susceptible to - in the throat.

 Apple Cider Vinegar 

Add apple cider vinegar (raw,organic ACV with the 'mother' is best, Bragg's brand for example) to your waterer a few times a week, or alternatively one straight week every month. The ratio is 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water.  The ACV will also help keep your chickens' water free of harmful bacteria and algae.  Be sure and use a plastic or stoneware waterer tho. The ACV will rust the metal and galvanized waterers.

I have also started using the generic store brand ACV to rinse and clean the waterers instead of bleach or another commercial cleaner.  I just mix it with water in a spray bottle or pour some into a pail of water.

Second in the Trinity is GARLIC.   Garlic boosts immune systems and it is also thought that mites, lice, ticks and other parasites are not as attracted to the blood of animals who eat alot of garlic. Garlic is also a natural wormer.


Garlic can be added to your chickens' diet in a couple of different ways.  You can float whole cloves in your waterer (mashed up a bit), replacing them every few days.  You can offer crushed fresh cloves in a small dish free-choice. Or you can add garlic powder to their feed.  I have tried all three and find it easiest to just add the powder to their feed (2% ratio), but every once in awhile I also give them a bowl of the fresh garlic.

Small chicks should also be offered crushed fresh garlic, free-choice, early on so they develop a taste for it.   A splash of apple cider vinegar in their water is also a great health booster for chicks. 

Boost your Chicks Diet too 

The third in the Trinity is DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE).  DE is an all natural silica-based crushed fossil that kills hard-shelled insects.  It kills fleas, ticks, flies, aphids and digestive worms while being completely safe for chickens.   Only food-grade DE should be used around the chickens, because they will inevitably end up eating some.  I  add DE to their feed in a 2% radio.

DE does also kill good bugs and can cause lung aggravation if the dust is inhaled, so take care where and how you sprinkle it.   You can wear a dust mask while sprinkling your coop floor, nesting boxes, around the feeders, in the dust bath area, etc.  

 DE shaker 

I find that one good way to disperse the DE is from a plastic shaker bottle, like the kind Parmesan cheese comes in.  I keep a full bottle in the run and sprinkle it liberally, especially in the summer when the flies get bad.

Bonus health tips !  Plain yogurt with live cultures and black strap molasses are also good to give your chickens on occasion as both have health benefits for your flock.  A weekly serving of yogurt will help keep the good bacteria levels high in your chickens' digestive systems and molasses contains lots of minerals including iron and copper, manganese and potassium, as well as calcium.  Molasses helps flush toxins out of the chickens' systems. 

Yogurt can cause diarrhea so it should only be given in small amounts and conversely, probiotic powder can be added to their feed in place of the yogurt to help boost the good bacteria in their intestines.

And there you have your Holistic Trinity plus something for intestinal health.  The holistic secrets to raising healthy chickens.

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Natural Chicken Keeping - First Aid Kit Essentials

 me and Madeleine 

We try to raise our chickens as naturally as possible and that means no antibiotics or other medications that make their eggs unsafe or unhealthy to eat.  Lots of preventatives go a long way, fortunately. But as careful as you are, or as well as you treat your hens, too often in backyard chicken keeping, injury or illness occurs that needs to be treated quickly. I recommend keeping these 8 first aid kit essentials on hand.

They are all-natural and have no side effects or withdrawal periods (time during which eggs from the treated hen shouldn't be eaten), but between them, you should be equipped to treat nearly anything.


  • Vetericyn - non-toxic, this gel spray kills 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses and fungi without harmful steroids or antibiotics. It speeds healing, cleans wounds and treats infection including bumblefoot.
  • Nutri-Drench - this molasses-based liquid packed with nutrients, helps resistance to disease, boosts immune systems, corrects vitamin deficiencies, helps with heat stress, improves appetites in sick birds and increases the body's response to other treatments. Excellent to give to new chicks to ease the strain of shipping.
  • Blu-Kote - an antibacterial/antifungal spray for wounds, cuts or sores. Has the added bonus of being purple which prevents further picking at injuries from other birds who might be attracted to red blood or raw skin.
  • Kocci-Free - an organic, all natural antibiotic/anti-parasitic that helps boost the immune system and rid the body of the coccidia parasite. Also kills other viruses, bacteria and fungus.
  • Poultry VetRx - a 100% natural alternative to antibiotics, this camphor-based formula cures respiratory ailments, scaly leg and eye worm.
  • Honey - a natural antiseptic with natural healing properties, honey is obviously also non-toxic if inadvertently eaten.
  • Saline Solution - a bottle of regular saline solution is perfect for rinsing dust or dirt out of watery eyes or cleaning a wound.
  • Cornstarch - a fast way to stop bleeding effectively.

 first aid 

These items, along with some gauze pads, tweezers, a small pair of scissors and vet wrap or first aid tape will ensure you are prepared.  It's easy to just administer some antibiotics at the first sign of illness, but not necessary in most cases. These natural products treat many many symptoms effectively.

For a complete, more comprehensive list of all the items we keep in our chicken first aid kit, Better Safe than Sorry.

Please come visit my Fresh Eggs Daily and FACEBOOK PAGE for more tips, tricks and advice to raising happy, healthy chickens as naturally as possible.


Eggs Benedict

eggs benedict

Fresh Eggs DailyEggs Benedict isn't nearly as difficult to prepare as you may think. The hardest part is getting all the components finished at the same time. This classic breakfast egg dish is a favorite at our house, especially when we have overnight guests. I like to prepare it simply, with just an English muffin, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce - to allow our fresh eggs to really shine and take center stage. The key to perfect Eggs Benedict is using fresh eggs and fresh lemon juice.

Easy Eggs Benedict Recipe (serves two)

Four whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks

2 split English muffins

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 stick cold salted butter, cut into small pieces

Salt & white pepper to taste

Grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)

Poach the four whole eggs in barely simmering water until soft set. Toast the English muffins and keep warm.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce: Whisk the three egg yolks, fresh lemon juice and water in a heatproof glass (not metal) bowl set over a pot of boiling water. Slowly add the butter, a few pieces at a time , whisking continuously until the butter is incorporated.

add lemon juice
add butter

Continue to whisk and cook the sauce for another minute or two until it thickens. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Immediately remove from heat. Place an egg on each muffin half, cover with sauce, and grate fresh nutmeg on top if desired. Serve immediately.


Fresh Eggs and Great Eggnog

Fresh Eggs DailyI love making homemade eggnog for the holidays. Since all the eggs I cook and bake with are fresh, laid by our own backyard flock, and have been handled properly, I feel confident making recipes that include partially cooked eggs.

This eggnog is a holiday tradition at our house. Our fresh eggs, along with scraped vanilla bean and freshly ground nutmeg, make it truly a guilty pleasure guaranteed to deliver plenty of holiday cheer. My recipe is pretty basic - adapted from a combination of Martha Stewart's Classic Eggnog recipe and Emeril's Eggnog recipe - and I always get compliments when I serve it to friends and family. It is a little more involved than some recipes, but so worth the extra effort!

Fresh eggs make great eggnog

(My recipe does contain alcohol, but please feel free to just omit the liquor if you want to make a family-friendly version.)

Holiday Eggnog

(makes approximately 3 quarts)

8 fresh eggs, plus 4 additional eggs separated

1-3/4 cups sugar

2 cups heavy cream, plus 1/2 cup

6 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup bourbon

1/4 cup sherry

1/4 cup brandy

Whisk the eight eggs plus the four additional yolks with the sugar in a medium bowl until pale yellow and thick. Heat the 2 cups heavy cream (reserving the 1/2 cup for later), the milk and the scraped vanilla bean in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking just until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges.

Add about a cup of the milk mixture into the whisked egg and whisk to blend, then pour the egg/milk mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan and continue to cook (this prevents the egg from cooking before it is incorporated), whisking, for about 3-5 minutes, or until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and allow to cool.

Once cooled, add the vanilla bean paste, nutmeg and liquors to the eggnog and stir well. In a small bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until soft peaks form and then gently fold into the eggnog. In a clean chilled bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream to soft peaks and fold it into the eggnog. Refrigerate until chilled, then garnish with additional fresh grated nutmeg and serve.

What is better than fresh nutmeg

Happy Holidays!



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