Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Flock Block

The chickens are feeling trapped.  Mother Nature dropped 8 inches of snow in their world.  We shoveled out pathways beyond the coop and run.  However, the girls still think we are holding them hostage with this white stuff called snow.  The snow is too deep to go wandering across; one false move and they would surely sink in up to their bellies.  Boredom has set in and no matter the distractions that I create, they never seem to last long enough.  So, I did some research today and discovered the Flock Block which encourages “natural pecking”.

The Flock Block is a hard 12 inch square that is “glued together” with molasses.  It includes an assortment of seeds, oyster shells and grit.  It is meant to be kept in a dry place, where the flock can pick at it over the course of the day.  I thought that this would be a tasty distraction that might keep them busy for hours.  My only concern was that the girls might replace their layer pellets with this block.  After a quick peek at the label, my fears were alleviated when I discovered the block contains 9% protein.

I opened up the block, set it on an old cookie sheet and carried the entire 25 pound block out to the girls.  Of  course, as with everything new, they were terrified!  I can always tell when they are frightened as they stand on the other side of the log in the run.  Somehow having a log between them and the foreign object, just makes everything better.  My daughter could not resist helping.  There she squatted at the end of the run whispering words of encouragement to the girls.

Finally, Dottie Speckles took the lead.  The girls slowly left the safety of the log and ventured closer to the block. Perhaps, the irresistible bait was the loose scratch that I had sprinkled on top of the block and on the ground near the cookie sheet.

Oyster Cracker deemed the block safe and decided to move in for a closer inspection.

Gradually each one mustered up the brave little chicken inside, and began to peck at the edges and loose pieces.  It took about 10 minutes for the girls to realize that this was a tasty treat for them.

 

The cookie sheet allows me to easily remove the block in the late afternoon, as I am sure that mice would go crazy for this sweet treat.  These days the sun has been setting around 4:45pm.  So, the plan is to take in the block around 4:00 pm and let the girls tidy up their run prior to turning in for the night.  It will be interesting to see how long this block lasts.

As I just went out to check on their progress, the corners of the block are now rounded.  The big girls are in the run keeping busy, two of the Silkies are getting in on the action when the big girls are distracted and two Silkies, Fifi and Autumn, have decided to go broody.  Apparently, for now, all appears to have returned to “normal”.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

  • I was eyeing up that very block at the feed store last time I was there to get feed. I had the same concerns as you with giving up their layer feed for this. You've inspired me to give it a try and the cookie sheet is a great idea.

  • I'm interested in seeing how this does for the chickies too!
    This is a neat idea.
    I've seen seed like this for birds and wondered if I could use it for my chickens…is it the same thing?

    Pat

  • Hi Linda, I was so worried that their protein supply would be compromised due to a lack of protein. Their feed has 7% and this has 9%. I will limit the time they have with it, like maybe 11am until late afternoon. I'm just glad they tried it.

    Hi Pat, this Flock Block is by Purina and specifically states it is for chickens and poultry. I'm not sure if this is the same one as the one you are talking about. I found this one at our local feed store where I pick up all my chicken stuff. I bet there is something out there for chicks. They just can't have the Oyster Shells yet until they are of egg laying age (affects their bone development and growth). Keep us posted and I hope you can locate something for your flock. I'm so happy you stopped in today 🙂

  • Sounds like a great idea! I try to give my hens mostly organic products although not everything they get is 100% organic. How is this Flock Block rated? I only have four girls right now and sure they would love it. When you remove it from the run, where do you put it to keep it 'fresh'? Will it spoil? Since I am also on Cape Cod, I am with you on this one for sure! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • Maybe you could come up with some sort of "agility course" like they have for dogs. You know, up the steps, through the tunnel, over the jump, through the water….That would give them some exercise and keep them interested. lol. Or, you could send them to Mexico for the winter, wait, scratch that (no pun intended). Mexico isn't the safest tourist destination right now.

  • LisaJean it sounds like we are living parallel lives 🙂 It had good reviews. Today they really enjoyed it. I picked it up at the Feed Store in Barnstable behind the train station for around $13. So far so good…..

    mybabyjohn/Delores, LOL! you are too funny. You know, I did see a chicken do a agility course on YouTube!

  • Lisa Jean, oops… I forgot to answer your question. As of now, I am storing it on an empty paper feed bag in a small metal trash bin with a lid.

  • I so much enjoy your chicken stories Melissa, I am really looking forward to them. I love hens and roosters (and geese and goats) since I was a child. I never was an owner of them, but I still am very fond of them to this day. So I am glad to have found your blog! 🙂

  • You are so good to your chickens. I will look for a block.

  • Super

  • I don't have chickens but I love reading your blog on them. We've had dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, rats, beta fish and a runaway ferret one night! Presently we have a new puppy and a 7 year Siamese cat who are trying to establish a friendly relationship in the house!
    Good luck and keep writing!!!

  • Thank you so much for such the sweet comments about the blog. I am so happy to hear that you enjoy reading it. This is what makes what I do worth it 🙂

  • am new here but a bit nutty about my chooks and love reading about others' adventures with their extended family of furbabies, wether its fur feathers or scales. Where can you purchase this block from, quite like the idea of it but would I be right in thinking it's not cheap?

  • Hi essjay, thanks for stopping by and the question. I purchased the block at my local feed store for about $12. I think it will last my eight girls about a month.

  • Anonymous

    I assume you meant their scratch is 7%. Their feed should be 17% or so.

    • The flock block is 9% protein, our organic feed is 17%. It was important for me that the flock block have some protein. You are right, scratch does have some protein. The scratch that I use has 9% protein as well. The flock block is not meant to be used as a main food source for any flocks. I hope this helps to clarify.