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Chicken Treat Chart The Best Treats For Backyard Chickens


This is a list of everything you can feed a chicken. However, everybody's chickens have their own tiny brains full of likes and dislikes, so while one person's chickens may come running for grapes or watermelon, another person's chickens may turn up their pointy little beaks at it. Anything on this list is worth a try.

Your comments are welcome - please post them on

At the bottom of the page are things you should avoid feeding your chickens.


Type General Opinions
Apples Raw and applesauce

Apple seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient quantities to kill.


Raw or cooked

Okay to feed, but not a favorite.
Bananas Without the peel High in potassium, a good treat.

Well-cooked only, never dry

Also, greenbeans.


Greens also.



All kinds

A treat, especially strawberries.


All kinds - good use for stale bread or rolls

Feed starches in moderation.

Broccoli & Cauliflower


Tuck into a suet cage and they will pick at it all day.

Cabbage & Brussels Sprouts

Whole head -

Hang a whole cabbage from their coop ceiling in winter so they have something to play with and greens to eat.

Carrots Raw and cooked They like carrot foliage too.
Catfood * (see bottom of page) Wet and dry Feed in strict moderation, perhaps only during moulting * (see bottom of page)
Cereal Cheerios, etc.

Avoid highly sugared cereal such as Cocopuffs, etc.

Cheese Including cottage cheese Feed in moderation, fatty but a good source of protein and calcium
Cooked Chicken


They may like it and it won’t kill them, but it just seems so….. ummm………… wrong.
Corn On cob and canned, raw and cooked


Crickets (alive) Can be bought at bait or pet-supply stores. Great treat – provides protein and it’s fun to watch the chickens catch them.

Let mature for yummy seeds and flesh.

Eggs Hardcooked and scrambled are a good source of protein, and a favorite treat. Feed cooked eggs only because you don’t want your chickens to start eating their own raw eggs.



Fish / Seafood

Cooked only.

Flowers Make sure they haven't been treated with pesticides, such as florist flowers might be. Marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, etc.
Fruit Pears, peaches, cherries, apples  
Grains Bulgar, flax, niger, wheatberries,etc.



Seedless only.

For chicks, cutting them in half makes it easier for them to swallow.

Great fun - the cause of many entertaining "chicken keepaway" games.
 Grits Cooked  


Only feed your chickens that which is still considered edible by humans, don't feed anything spoiled, moldy, oily, salty or unidentifiable.  
Lettuce / Kale

Any leafy greens, spinach collards, chickweed included.

A big treat, depending on how much other greenery they have access to.


(see photo after the chart)

Available at pet supply stores or on the internet, although shipping is expensive!

A huge(!) favorite treat, probably the most foolproof treat on the books.
Meat scraps of any kind. Not too fatty. In moderation, a good source of protein
Melon Cantelope, etc. Both seeds and flesh are good chicken treats.
Oatmeal Raw or cooked Cooked is nutritionally better.
Pasta / Macaroni Cooked spaghetti, etc. A favorite treat, fun to watch them eat it, but not much nutrition.

Peas and pea tendrils and flowers (thanks to YayChick for the advice)


Peppers (bell)





Seeds are a big treat.


Popped, no butter, no salt.

Potatos / Sweet Potatos/Yams Cooked only - avoid green parts of peels! Starchy, not much nutrition
Pumpkins / Winter Squash Raw or cooked Both seeds and flesh are a nutritious treat.
Raisins .  

Cooked only

Pilaf mixes are okay too, plain white rice has little nutrition.

Scratch Scratch is cracked corn with grains (such as wheat, oats and rye) mixed in. Scratch is a treat for cold weather, not a complete feed. Toss it on the ground and let them scratch for it for something to do.
 Sprouts Wheat and oat sprouts are great!  Good for greens in mid-winter.
Summer Squash Yellow squash and zucchini

Yellow squash not a huge favorite, but okay to feed.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds with the shell still on is fine to feed, as well as with the shell off.

A good treat, helps hens lay eggs and grow healthy feathers.


Raw and cooked.



Not a huge favorite

Served cold, it can keep chickens cool and hydrated during hot summers.

Seeds and flesh are both okay to feed.
Yogurt Plain or flavored A big favorite and good for their digestive systems. Plain is better.

The most favorite chicken treat of all - mealworms! Note the lightning speed of the chicken lunging for them.

By the time my camera was ready to take the next shot, all the worms were gone.



Yogurt's a favorite, and very good for their intestinal health.





Here are two photos from Rooster-Red of his chickens enjoying their yogurt!


Rooster-Red recommends standing back from your chickens when feeding yogurt, because the stuff flies EVERYwhere.






Here's BYC member Punkin's girls enjoying their first taste of yogurt in June 2008:






This is a mix of good quality birdseed, raw oatmeal and scratch.


I only feed this on cold mornings, and I scatter it sparingly in their run


so they have something to scratch for and occupy their treat-obsessed minds.







 Here's a Gold-Laced Wyandotte rooster belonging to BYC member "Addiedunn", leaping up for his favorite treat - a whole peanut:






Introducing odd treats can result in some very quizzical looks...






Here's a bowl of warm oatmeal, girls!



Warm oatmeal's even better after a big snowstorm:


 Some leftover steamed rice with veggies:



Don’t feed the following things to your chickens:

(I'm sure people have experienced exceptions to this list, but if we want to raise our birds the best way possible, "better safe than sorry".)



Here’s why:

Raw green potato peels

Toxic substance called Solanine.

Anything real salty Can cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.


Dried or undercooked Beans Raw, or dry beans, contain a poison called hemaglutin which is toxic to birds.
Avocado Skin and Pit

Skin and pit have low levels of toxicity.

Raw eggs You don’t want to introduce your chickens to the tastiness of eggs which may be waiting to be collected in the nestboxes.
Candy, Chocolate, Sugar Their teeth will rot… No, it’s just bad for their systems, and chocolate can be poisonous to most pets.

A quote from Nifty-Chicken, the Administrator of BYC:

"I gave up on my birds knowing what was best for them when I caught them all eating a block of Styrofoam pellets."

Regarding toxicity, the following is copied from a post by DLhunicorn on May 14, 2007 in a thread titled "Potato Peels". (Thank you DLhunicorn for your tremendously helpful and knowledgeable contributions to BYC!)


"Do not count on your chickens "knowing" what is bad for them...also do not count on these "toxic" plants immediately being identifiable by finding a dead bird the next morning...usually it is a slow process damaging organs , inhibiting the ability of your bird to utilize the nutrients in their feed, etc..


Toxic Plants:

here are some of my collected articles on nutrition : … 1157992073


* Regarding feeding CAT FOOD to chickens,


the following is from DLHunicorn in response to the listing of cat food in this Treats Chart: (A word to the wise, and thank you, DLHunicorn)


"You all know how I feel on cat food and I have posted the links and reasoning behind my objections several times can potentially be detrimental to your birds health and even deadly in the right circumstances and for this reason I feel it should be left off the chart (as when you put it on it is as if you are condoning its use) I will repost here one of the sources for my objection:

..."While it is nutritionally essential, methionine excesses are far more toxic to poultry than similar excesses of tryptophan, lysine, and threonine (National Research Council, 1994). Force feeding methionine to excess can result in death to chicks (National Research Council, 1994). A dosage of 2 g / mature cat / day (20 to 30 g / kg dry diet) for 20 days induces anorexia, ataxia, cyanosis, methemoglobinemia and Heinz body formation resulting in hemolytic anemia (Maede, 1985). ..."




Feeding & Watering Your Flock Forum Section



Comments (265)

Very helpful page! Thanks!
Very useful list! I appreciate the time you took to make this out for us! Thank you!
Hmm, the chickens don't seem to be interested... What age do they start to want treats? All they eat is the mealworms
Thanks for the info
Thanks for Sharing, very good information.
Thanks for that. In your link to toxic plants it says flax. It was included as a treat from another list on this site. What can you say about that.
Thank you
As for chickens knowing what is bad for them....They don't. They will pretty much give anything a go! Case in point. I am slowly but surely getting rid of the umpteen oleanders the previous owners planted all over the freaking place. I have caught my chickens eating the leaves several times even though they have full feeders, get kitchen scraps and treats.They got in the laundry room one day and one of them was trying out the laundry soap.
Thanks for the Information, good to know! Yogurt esp strawberry is a favourite for mine and sweetcorn...they lov it!
Great info for someone like me who is just starting out
I sprout popcorn for my lovebirds. I bet the chickies would love it too. They are already liking sprouted wheat berries and yogurt.
the cricket experience is a must! My girls went nuts chasing those things all around their yard. Too funny!
Why is Citrus bad? There is only a period in the reason. xD
Citrus is bad for many animals because it gives them diariah.
This is great! My office building has recently been adopted by a pair of roosters and I was wondering what to feed them, but more importantly, what NOT to feed them :)
a couple of more toxic foods - the vet told me to stay away from Parsley & avocado both are toxic to chickens.
I like to get a fresh ear of corn and hang it from the wire on top of their pen.....they are definitely occupied on days when they can't go out into the pasture and they love the fresh corn. Funny to watch too!
thanks for the info, so far our little one's love meal worms and yogurt. The oldest one who is 9mos old will eat applesauce. I put wheat germ on the yogurt also, they love it. So far they are not interested in any veggies, or anything else. But I will keep introducing it. I am for sure going to try the ear of corn in the pen, that should be fun and interesting.
Thank you for the advice! I also have aquarium fish and I was smiling when reading how to introduce new members to the flock (after quarantine!!!) because many of the tricks mentioned also work for fish! I would also like to know why citrus is bad. We are in Hawaii and I have an abundance of all kinds of citrus and I was hoping to be able to supplement my chicken’s diet with all things from the garden. I also used to raise parrots and avocados were a big no no for them. But I see there is conflicting info on the flesh (no pits or skin is ok) but again, with so many avo trees; I was hoping they could enjoy them too! I'm new to BYC and it is great!

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