I have always enjoyed watching my chickens eat while roaming the yard. It’s definitely hard to tell the different kinds of foods that chickens eat. I’ve learned that they are omnivorous and are bound to take in anything coming their way. But, that does not mean that you should let them consume anything. There are many foods that could be potentially harmful to your birds, so what can your chickens eat?
After all, your flock’s health is of great importance to you and your entire family. So what they eat should not be taken for granted.
Common Foods that Chickens Can Eat
We all feel good when our chickens eat what we give them. But what exactly can your backyard chickens eat? I’ve compiled all the fruits, veggies, and other foods that will keep your birds happy and healthy!
15 Fruits Your Chickens Will Love
Apples are one of the fruits that you can give your birds to eat. But you need to be careful when preparing this treat for your poultry because the seeds contain traces of cyanide. In this case, you must get rid of seeds first.
How to Prepare: Then chop the fruit into tiny pieces to make their digestion easy. Alternatively, you can prepare apple sauce and mix it with other chicken food to create a more delicious meal for your feathered friends.
Just like other treats, strawberries are also one of the favorite foods for chickens. They are high in elements like vitamins A, C, and B9. Besides, strawberries are known to have an anti-inflammatory component ( quercetin), which is rich in antioxidants.
Chickens love grapes in the same way we do. They are rich in vitamins A, B, and C. There are also some traces of elements such as copper and calcium.
How to Prepare: Chop a few grapes and give your birds to make the digestion easier. Make sure that you give them a few grapes at a time, particularly once a week. This is because grapes have higher sugar content, which is not suitable for your birds.
Bananas are very nutritious, and your chickens will love them immediately. Moreover, they contain vitamins B6, C, and A, including minerals such as magnesium, iron, niacin, and other trace elements.
How to Prepare: So, if you have spotty brown bananas, don’t throw them away. Instead, chop them into small pieces and feed your birds. They will find this treat to be very delicious and satisfying.
Your chickens like a few pieces of pineapples when you feed them sparingly. This type of food is high in minerals and vitamins. However, excessive consumption of this fruit can cause fiber balls (bezoars) to occur inside the crop.
Oranges have fantastic health benefits for your chickens. Since they are part of the citrus fruits, they have large quantities of vitamin C and other elements that can help improve your chickens’ health. Ironically, most chickens don’t enjoy this citrus fruit as much as you would expect. But to make them like it more, you should include it in a fruit salad.
Chickens eat different types of berries, and blueberries are considered their favorites. Rich in minerals and vitamins, this type of berries contain antioxidants. But the only downside of this treat is that your chickens’ poop will turn blue.
Cherries loaded with minerals and vitamins such as A, C, E, and K. On top of that, they contain choline elements that play a vital role in a chicken’s health.
How to Prepare: You can feed your birds the cooked or uncooked cherries to keep them happy all day long.
11. Banana Peels
Although they may not like them the first time, chickens can eat banana peels!
How to Prepare: Place a few of these peels in a food processor to make them small enough for your birds to enjoy.
There is no better treat for your chickens during hot summers than watermelons. Full of water and vitamins, this food acts as a refreshing treat for chickens when it is hot outside.
for many reasons. Key among them is that this treat contains plenty of vitamins A, B, and C. Most importantly, you can feed your bird the rind and seeds, unlike other types of fruits. Otherwise, feed your birds cantaloupe in moderation to avoid diarrhea.
Chickens love peaches, and there’s no doubt about it. This is a fruit rich in essential nutrients to help your birds stay healthy, productive, and active throughout. Before feeding your chickens, make sure to remove the pit because it contains cyanide.
Pears contain a low amount of sugar, and this makes them extremely healthy for your birds. As a result, they are an excellent snack for your feathered friends.
Other Fruits Your Chickens Can Eat:
- Plums (Without Seeds)
Learn more about what Fruits Chickens Can Eat! >> Click Here
13 Vegetables Your Chickens Will Enjoy
Broccoli is safe for your birds to eat. Just like any other vegetable, this type of plant has many different types of vitamins that are beneficial to your flock. Most importantly, it has low-fat content, making it one of the best treats for your chickens.
How to Prepare: All you need to do is to cook them a little bit and serve your chickens immediately. Also, you may give them in the form of a suet cage to keep them busy all day while pecking it.
This delicious veggie is also a great source of vital nutrients, celery is rich in vitamins B2, B6, C and K. On top of that, this type of food contains traces of minerals such as potassium, calcium, molybdenum and many others. This may not be one of your chicken’s favorite treats, but they are very beneficial to their health.
How to Prepare: You can just chop it up into small pieces for better digestion!
As a powerhouse of different categories of vitamins, asparagus contains vast amounts of nutrients and dietary fiber. Your chickens may not necessarily eat it as much as you would want them to. But if they do eat, make sure to provide them this treat in small quantities. Too much of it can affect the taste of eggs.
Whether raw or cooked, potatoes make it to the list of the most favorite treats for your chickens. However, avoid feeding your birds potatoes that have green patches or areas because they contain solanine, a very poisonous substance. Also, avoid giving them leaves, flowers, and stems as they contain toxic substances. The potato belongs to the family of nightshade plants, meaning that they contain large quantities of poisonous substances in leaves, stems, and flowers.
As a vegetable, cabbage is also one of the must-have delicacies for your birds. Surprisingly, this type of vegetable contains high quantities of vitamins and trace minerals.
How to Prepare: To make your chickens enjoy it, you should hang it to appear like a tetherball. Or you can stuff several leaves into the suet container to enable them to pluck and eat whenever they feel hungry.
Cucumbers are an excellent treat for your chickens, especially in hot months. This treat contains large quantities of water, making it one of the best for cooling and hydrating your chickens on hot days. Besides, cucumbers contain minerals and vitamins, including anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to being one of the most delightful treats for chickens, pumpkins also have medicinal value for your birds. Their seeds can aid in controlling worms in your chickens. Pecking at this type of treat will keep your birds busy for quite some.
You can feed your birds raw or cooked carrots. This type of food is full of goodness. This means you can feed your birds even the green carrots without the fear of toxic elements, unlike the potatoes. But never feed your chickens canned carrots because they contain a lot of salt.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes are incredibly healthy and packed with a lot of vitamins.
How to Prepare: To feed your hens, you need to boil them with minimal butter or salt.
With its vitamins and minerals, kale is a reliable treat for your chickens. Whether cooked or raw, your birds will still enjoy them. Better yet, you can hang them at a strategic place in the coop for your hens to peck at them when they feel like doing so.
11. Green Beans
If well-cooked, green beans can become a tasty treat for your hens. The main reason why you should cook them well is to remove the deadly phytohemagglutinin, which is dangerous to your flock.
Also, an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, zucchini, is the right choice of food for your chickens. Besides, their seeds can help control worms in chickens.
How to Prepare: Just slice them lengthwise to enable your birds to peck them at will.
As you may know, tomatoes are a rich source of nutrients such as vitamin B9, C, and K. Also, this type of chicken feed contains potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. But there are other things you need to know about tomatoes when it comes to feeding your birds. Certain parts of these plants are highly poisonous because they contain a substance known as solanine. This toxic substance is in leaves and flowers.
Other Veggies Your Chickens Can Eat:
- Potato Skins
- Cooked beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Spaghetti Squash
12 Other Treats Your Flock Will Like
Certain types of grass are suitable for feeding chickens. Most of this grass contains short strands, which make it easy for your birds to eat and digest. Avoid long strands because they are more likely to cause crop impaction compared to the shorter variety. Most significantly, ensure that the grass has not exposed to any chemicals before preparing to feed your chickens.
In small quantities, crickets contain a substantial amount of nutrients that are vital to your birds. For instance, 100 g has about 12.9 g protein, 5.5 g fat, and 5.1 g carbs. There are numerous minerals and a few crucial elements for the growth and development of your chickens. Despite being a healthy snack, ensure that you feed your poultry in small amounts due to high protein content in it.
High in protein and other nutrients, mealworms are a perfect delicacy for your backyard chickens. This type of food plays a significant role in the lives of your hens during molting as it helps in regrowing feathers. You can give them fresh or dried, but make sure that you do it in moderation.
Whether cooked or raw, oats are still a delicious snack to your chickens. When you give to your pullets, oats can help reduce feather picking. Above all, they are a great source of minerals, vitamins, and some protein.
Even though it is human food, rice is also a favorite treat for your birds. In particular, brown and wild rice are the most preferred types instead of white
rice. The two varieties contain more nutrients than the white ones. Never feed your birds uncooked rice for the sake of their safety. It is because the uncooked rice will absorb moisture inside your chicken’s gut. As a result, it will expand and cause serious problems such as blockages and intestine perforation.
Popcorns are not only enjoyable when you are watching your favorite series or movie, but they can also make your birds happy. This is because they contain vitamins A, E, and K. Additionally, popcorns have a lot of minerals as well as fiber to aid in digestion. However, don’t add sugar or salt to this treat when feeding your feathery friends.
When it comes to nuts, there’s more than you should expect in terms of nutrients. Nuts contain saturated fats, which means you should feed them in moderation. Also, they contain omega fat, which is right for your chickens.
How to Prepare: Chop the nuts into small pieces before feeding your chickens. Avoid moldy nuts as they can cause respiratory problems to your hens.
Since you love a loaf of bread, your chickens adore it as well. To make them enjoy this treat, you need to soak it in milk. In the past, bread was fed to chickens to fatten them a few days before slaughter. On the contrary, bread is nutritionally deficient despite your birds’ tendency to love it. Therefore, they should feed them in moderation.
Feed your birds small quantities of raisins to keep them healthy and energetic. Too much of this treat can result in sickness or lead to renal failure. Apart from that, larger quantities of this food will make your chickens overweight due to the presence of sugar.
Since all chickens are omnivorous, they will also eat meat. Just remove excess fat from the meat before feeding it to your chickens. Provide them with carcasses of chicken or turkey, and you will be amazed at how they will scramble for this delicacy. Meat is an excellent source of nutrients like protein.
Cheese is an excellent source of proteins and minerals, such as calcium. But you should feed them in moderation because it is a dairy product. Chickens are not able to digest or process dairy products well.
You should be surprised to learn that your chickens can enjoy eggs, just like other treats. Scramble a
few eggs to confuse them so that they will not know you are feeding them eggs. If not, they will turn to their newly laid eggs to have that exotic taste.
Other Veggies Your Chickens Can Eat:
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Peanut butter
- Peanut shells
Foods your Chickens Should NOT Eat
- Moldy bread
Choosing Foods That Are Good For Your Chickens
Chickens need the right building blocks of life, and that’s why they deserve certain types of food. Their foods should contain nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals, and vitamins. And of course fresh, clean water.
Chickens can taste an array of foods. From cereals to fruits and vegetables to meat, your feathered friends consume virtually everything on their paths.
Chickens Are Omnivorous
Being omnivorous, your birds will try to eat about anything they can find. That is the reason you will see them scratching the ground, looking for all kinds of edibles. These lovely birds will spend their time eating a cornucopia of vitamin and protein-rich foods when left to roam the yard. Their collection of food includes grubs, insects, vegetables, and seeds.
Since they are reasonably indiscriminate, your birds may even sample small animals such as toads, skinks, or snakes. For them, anything that moves and smaller in size looks edible. It should tell you why free-ranging birds have tasty eggs and meat.
What Should You Feed Your Chickens?
In the summertime, a more significant portion of your chickens’ diet comes from foraging. That is if you are free-ranging your birds. It does exclude backyard chickens from enjoying a delicious, healthy, and balanced diet. In this regard, you should consider supplementing their diet with commercial feed.
The primary source of food for your backyard chickens must consist of layer feed. This type of feed comes in pellet or crumble form with all essential nutrients for your birds.
Benefits of Layer Feed
You want to provide your laying hens with the right nutritional requirements. The nutrients in this type of feed keep your layers healthy while helping them to produce high-quality eggs consistently. Calcium and protein are vital nutrients, although most commercial feeds provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals essential to your birds’ health.
Supplementing Your Chicken’s Diet During The Winter
Another way of keeping your birds healthy and productive is by supplementing their diet. This step is essential, especially during extreme weather conditions, when the intake of food is higher. At the same time, foraging is not an option because your birds will not be able to cope with the freezing weather outside.
Whole Foods For Chickens
Fruits, grains, and vegetables are also a good source of feed for your chickens. These foods make your birds happy, healthy, and active throughout. But make sure that they are getting a well-balanced diet.
The best choices among this type of chicken food include cooked beans, leafy greens, non-sugary cereals or grains, corn, berries, apples, a selection of fruits and vegetables. When you give them these foods in the right amounts, you can rest assured that they will become healthy and highly productive.
Can You Feed Chickens Table Scraps?
Table scraps are also a reliable source of chicken feed. Besides keeping your birds healthy and productive, scraps give you a better chance to save some money. It is an affordable option to augment your flock’s diet, not to mention reducing food waste.
To your surprise, most of what you consume will capture the attention of your chickens, including different types of meat. The moment you start putting a side table scraps for your feathered friends, you will get surprised by how much food has been going to waste.
When feeding your chickens table scraps, you should avoid sugary treats, salty snacks, high-fat foods, and spoiled food. This way, you will keep your birds safe from harmful elements contained in such foods.
Also, remember that moderating table scraps are crucial when it comes to feeding your flock. Small amounts are just fine and will keep your birds happy and active all day long.
Tips About Treats and Snacks
How many snacks should you give your chickens?
You can feed your chickens snacks once per day. If you want better results, use ⅓ cup. Make sure that the treats are not more than 10 percent of the snacks.
Does feeding your chickens snacks affect their egg-laying ability?
Yes. Too many treats can fatten your layers, leading to severe problems at the time of laying eggs.
Chickens are lucky because they can eat almost anything they come across. This is the reason they are omnivorous animals, just like humans. But when giving them a variety of treats, you should be careful enough not to provide them with toxic foods. Also, limit the number of certain treats that contain a lot of sugar, salt, and fat. Otherwise, feed your birds a nutritionally balanced diet to keep them healthy, active, and productive.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!