Treats for chickens

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This list of treats for chickens will help you know what you can feed your flock safely and healthily. Not every food we eat is chicken approved and having a list you can refer to is a great tool to have in your livestock binder.

Check out all of our resources for raising chickens that thrive year-round giving you eggs every day to enjoy.

TREATS FOR CHICKENS

One of the main reasons I love having chickens is the eggs. If you have ever cracked open a store-bought egg next to a farm-fresh egg, you know there is a difference. The yolks are golden and much larger, and the taste is more vibrant and definitely noticeable.

Another reason I love raising chickens is that they take care of our kitchen scraps. Peelings, cores, and ends are all snacks our hens enjoy and can improve their health and the quality of their eggs. However, not all scraps are good for chickens, and knowing what to avoid will help you to give the best nutritional foods.

How many times a day should I feed my chickens?

If you hand-feed your chickens, you will want to do so at least twice a day and more if you have a large flock. Many homesteaders choose to use a continuous feeder so their chickens have access to feed throughout the day.

This option may not be the best for everyone, however, as it can, in some areas, attract pests into the coop.

Be sure to grab the FREE Chicken Treat Checklist below!

a chicken eating corn and ice on a hot summer day

Good Treats for chickens

Chickens, enjoy being fed a variety of foods in addition to their regular feed. Not only do treats help to keep your flock from getting bored you can also use them as rewards for training. We like to train all of our animals to come when called which can be very helpful especially if you free range your birds.

Choosing treats that are good for chickens is important and this list will help you to know what is best and what you will want to avoid.

#1. Fruits and vegetables

Chickens love a variety of fruits and veggies, such as watermelon, pumpkin, carrots, and leafy greens. These treats are not only delicious but also provide essential vitamins and minerals for your chickens’ health. We do not give potatoes or peelings as they can be toxic, but I will talk more about this in a bit.

How to Give: You can give your chickens peelings, ends, leftover cuttings, or give them whole. Our chickens love pumpkins, watermelons, corn cobs, and cantaloupe the most.

a flock of chickens eating cantaloupe on green grass

#2. Mealworms

Mealworms are a great source of protein for chickens and can be fed fresh or dried. They are especially beneficial during molting season, when chickens need extra protein to grow new feathers. Chickens love mealworms and will come running if you know you have them!

How to Give: You can toss a handful of mealworms into the coop or run as a treat for your hens. It is recommended that you give about 10-12 live mealworms to each chicken a day giving more in very hot or cold weather.

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#3. seeds

Chickens enjoy a variety of seeds, such as pumpkin, fruit, and sunflower seeds. You can give them fresh from the fruits you may be eating or purchase them dried.

How to Give: These treats can be scattered in their coop or run for them to peck at throughout the day.

#4. Cooked Eggs

Surprisingly, chickens love eating cooked eggs! This is a great way to use up cracked or broken eggs from your flock. Cooked eggs are also a good source of protein for chickens.

How to Give: We like to scramble eggs and give them to our chickens in a bowl to keep them from getting too soiled. Warm eggs are great on cold winter mornings.

a flock of chickens eating scrambled eggs in the snow

#5. Yogurt

Chickens love plain, unsweetened yogurt, and because it contains probiotics, it is a great and healthy treat to give. Yogurt can also aid in your flock’s digestion and improve their overall health.

How to Give: Pour yogurt into a bowl and let your chickens enjoy in the coop or run.

#6. Herbs

If you grow herbs in your garden and have extra cuttings, you can give these to your chickens. Many herbs have medicinal properties that are beneficial to the flock. Some popular choices include oregano, garlic, and thyme.

How to Give: Herbs can be fed dried or fresh from your garden. Add to their grain or toss into the run as a treat.

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#7. Insects

Chickens are natural foragers who love hunting for insects such as worms, slugs, grubs, beetles, and grasshoppers. You can also purchase freeze-dried insects specifically made for chickens as a special treat. Or let them find them naturally.

How to Give: You can purchase beneficial bugs for chickens and toss them into the run as a treat. We like to offer bugs naturally by turning the soil in the run letting our flock dig and scratch for worms and other insects.

#8. Leftovers

Sometimes, you can give leftovers to your chickens as long as they are not spoiled or moldy. Your flock will enjoy cooked rice, pasta, and vegetables. Be sure to avoid giving them anything spicy, sugary, or high in salt content.

How to Give: You can use a bowl to feed the leftovers or you can toss them into the run letting your chickens scratch and peck.

a hand pouring kitchen scraps into a bowl a good thing to feed chickens in winter run

#9. Grit

While not necessarily a treat, grit is an important part of a chicken’s diet as it helps them grind and digest their food. Make sure to provide your chickens with a constant supply of grit, either through commercial products or by allowing them access to small stones or sand.

How to Give: Leave a bowl of grit out for your chickens to eat as they need it or add it to their grain.

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It’s important to remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of a chicken’s diet. Too many treats can lead to nutritional imbalances and health issues. It’s also important to introduce new treats slowly and in small quantities to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of a chicken’s digestive system.

In addition to providing tasty treats, it’s also important to make sure your chickens have access to clean water at all times. Water is essential for their overall health and well-being.

Toxic foods for chickens

Not all foods are good for chickens and knowing what not to feed them is important. This list of foods should be avoided to ensure the safety and well-being of your flock.

#1. Avocado

Avocados contain a substance called persin, which is highly toxic to birds.

#2. Chocolate

Chocolate is toxic to chickens due to the presence of theobromine.

#3. Onions and garlic

These foods contain compounds that can cause anemia in chickens.

#4. Raw beans

Certain types of raw beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin which can be fatal to chickens.

#5. Apple seeds

The seeds of apples contain a substance called cyanide which can be deadly to chickens in large doses.

#6. Tomato leaves and stems

These parts of the tomato plant contain solanine, a toxic compound that can cause digestive upset and paralysis in chickens.

#7. Citrus fruits

The high acidity of citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges can upset the digestive system of chickens.

#8. Moldy or spoiled food

These foods can contain harmful bacteria and toxins that can make chickens sick.

#9. Green potatoes or peelings

Potatoes that have turned green contain a compound called solanine, which is toxic to chickens. To be safe, we do not feed raw potatoes or peelings. However, cooked potatoes are okay to give.

Make feeding time fun!

To help keep your flock calm and happy, finding fun ways to keep them entertained is another part of being a chicken owner.

We like to use chicken cages to hold different fruits and veggies our chickens enjoy. Here’s how it works:

  1. Take a tomato cage and turn it updside down.
  2. Use a few rocks to hold it in place so it doesn’t tip over.
  3. Spear different foods onto the legs. Tomatoes, apples, carrots, cucumbers are all great options.
  4. Let your chickens peck and enjoy!
chickens eating tomatoes and apples speared on the end of a updside down tomato cage

Overall, treats can be a fun and enjoyable way to bond with your flock and provide them with extra nutrition. Treats can help add nutrition and other benefits to your chickens’ diet. Just do so in moderation and always prioritize their main diet of high-quality feed.

With the right balance, your chickens will be happy enjoying a variety of healthy kitchen scraps and other treats.

More Chicken Care Resources:

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