Chicken Treat Chart—the Best Treats for Backyard Chickens

Your chickens are probably pets, and like any good pet owner, you want to give them treats. Here's a list of great treats for your favorite...
By Buff Hooligans · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Aug 13, 2016 · ·
  1. Buff Hooligans
    This is a list of almost 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 safe to feed and worth a try.

    Your comments and feedback are welcome—please post them on:

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


    TypeGeneral Opinions
    ApplesRaw and applesauceApple seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient quantities to kill.
    Raw or cooked
    Okay to feed, but not a favorite.
    Without the peelHigh in potassium, a good treat.
    Well-cooked only, never dryAlso, greenbeans.
    Greens also..
    All kindsA treat, especially strawberries.
    All kinds—this is a 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 headHang a whole cabbage from their coop ceiling in winter so they have something to play with and greens to eat.
    Raw and cookedThey like carrot foliage too.
    Catfood * (see bottom of page)Wet and dryFeed in strict moderation, perhaps only during moulting * (see bottom of page)
    Cheerios, etc.Avoid highly sugared cereal such as Cocopuffs, etc.
    CheeseIncluding cottage cheeseFeed 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.
    CornOn cob and canned, raw and cooked.
    Crickets (live)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.
    EggsHardcooked 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/SeafoodCooked only..
    FlowersMake sure they haven't been treated with pesticides,
    such as florist flowers might be.
    Marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, etc.
    FruitPears, peaches, cherries, apples.
    GrainsBulgar, flax, niger, wheatberries,etc..
    GrapesSeedless only. For chicks, cutting them in half makes it easier for them to swallow.
    Great fun—they are the chief cause of many entertaining "chicken keep away" games.
    Only feed your chickens food items which are 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 favorite treat, probably the most foolproof
    option in the books.
    Meat scraps of any kind.Not too fatty.A good source of protein in moderation.
    MelonCantaloupe, etc.Both the seeds and the flesh are good chicken treats.
    OatmealRaw or cookedCooked is nutritionally better.
    Pasta/MacaroniCooked spaghetti, etc.A favorite treat, fun to watch them eat it, but not much nutrition.
    PeasPeas and pea tendrils and flowers
    (thanks to YayChick for the advice)
    Peppers (bell).
    Seeds are a big treat.
    PopcornPopped, no butter, no salt.
    Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes/YamsCooked only—avoid the green parts of peels!Starchy, not much nutrition
    Pumpkins/Winter SquashRaw or cookedBoth the seeds and the flesh are a nutritious treat.
    RiceCooked only
    Pilaf mixes are okay too, plain white rice has little nutrition.
    ScratchScratch 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.
    SproutsWheat and oat sprouts are great! Good for greens in mid-winter.
    Summer SquashYellow squash and zucchiniYellow squash not a huge favorite, but okay to feed.
    Sunflower SeedsSunflower seeds inthe shell are fine to feed, as well as shelled.
    A good treat, helps hens lay eggs and grow healthy feathers.
    TomatoesRaw and cooked.
    Not a huge favorite
    WatermelonServed cold, it can keep chickens cool and hydrated during hot summers.
    Seeds and flesh are both okay to feed.
    YogurtPlain or flavoredA 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 it is very good for their intestinal health.

    Here is Rooster-Red and 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, it's "better safe than sorry".)


    Here’s why:

    Raw green potato peelsToxic substance called Solanine.
    Anything really saltyCan cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.
    Dried or undercooked BeansRaw, or dry beans, contain a poison called hemaglutin which is toxic to birds.
    Avocado Skin and PitSkin and pit have low levels of toxicity.
    Raw eggsYou don’t want to introduce your chickens to the tastiness of eggs which may be waiting to be collected in the nestboxes.
    Candy, Chocolate, SugarTheir 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:

    * 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 per mature cat per 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). ..."

    You can read and discuss more about chicken treats here:

    Feeding & Watering Your Flock Forum Section
    Topic/Question of the week—Feeding table scraps to your flock
    Topic of the Week - Feeding Treats

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Recent User Reviews

  1. cuquitina
    "(angel chorus singing) Ooooooh!!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 7, 2019
    Posts like this one are a blessing for newbies like myself. Thank you so much!

    Loved all those pictures of happy chickens enjoying their treats, they are super cute.
  2. Wendy Case
    "Great article. I'll be saving it for reference!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 5, 2019
  3. gus6954
    "Great to know,"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 2, 2019
    This is great to know what you can, and can't give chickens. I'm new in the game, and needed this information. Great article!


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  1. Brookliner
    In the fall just before the 1st frost I cut back my hosta plants to the ground and feed the leaves to the chickens. These plants have never had any toxic chemicals near them.
    I also have a fish pond and when I am cleaning it out in the fall I take all the water hyacinths and water lettuce that have been floating on the surface and toss them into the chicken run. The chickens go crazy for them. I used to compost them but now I just compost the chicken manure.
  2. GotCoop
    Good to know about the cat food. I don't intentionally feed the chickens cat food...but I do leave it out for the barn cats. I'll have to be more careful with where I place it.
      COLORADO HIPPIE likes this.
  3. Yuo
    What's the difference between deer corn and regular cracked corn for chickens. I see deer corn for less.
    1. Chicken Huck
      Deer corn is whole corn, sometimes coated to prevent mold and mildew. Cracked corn is corn that has had the kernel removed and has been crushed. Easier for chickens to swallow and digest. Less fat.
  4. SongBaby33
    Brilliant article
    In my opinion one of the best
      Clubber1234 likes this.
  5. clawdeen360
    How bout cooked pancakes?
    1. RoostersAreAwesome
      Probably okay as an occasional treat, but I wouldn't feed them it too often.
      clawdeen360 likes this.
    2. clawdeen360
      K thanks!!!
  6. Hyper_Chicken05
    Nice article, But funny how the owner has not been online in 6 years lol
  7. The Widow Flanagan
    My Ducks love cat food! I was feeding them some almost exclusively, but I ain't no more! Betty White with the bum leg loves it so much it's the only way I can get her up and moving. I plaster the stuff with DE and it really helps that leg. I have a new feeding system now they like and just put a small handful of cat food in the 5 gallons of mix. Mostly Duck and Goose Maintenance mix, cracked corn, mealworms, and a few handfuls of Chix Egg Laying Pellets. Everything has DE coating it. Winter is late (YAY!) so my ducklings haven't seen their first snow yet. Then it's hauling water. Ugh. It's a long way out there, too!
    1. Chicken Huck
      I don't use DE because it kills earthworms as well as intestinal worms.
  8. martins show birds
    our hens love cat food and gobble
    1. Parrot tail aseelbreed
      Parrotnose long tail aseel breed chicks
  9. martins show birds
    our hens love cat food and gobble
  10. KCrawford2014
    I never thought about giving them lobster shells, next time we go to red lobster, I’m skipping the doggie bag! I’m bringing home a chicken bag! Haha
      GIgoatGuy, Bettyboop7499 and Ursula09 like this.
  11. BrainyChicken8761
    Hi everyone,

    Someone has turned this into chicken treat tool. You can choose the snack and it will tell you if your hen can eat it :wee
      Ursula09 likes this.
  12. lamb.dad368
    My chicks are 5 week old could I give them some steamed rice?
  13. FarmerGirl101
    1. paulsmithswife
      I'm sorry, I don't understand. My chickens eat tomatoes and tomato plants as often as they can. And, I haven't suffered a loss. Will you elaborate, please?
      Susan Dye likes this.
    2. Schmay
      From the research I have done and people I have spoken to it seems to be that green tomatoes can be toxic to chickens but the ripe red tomatoes are fine. And the reason you keep them away from the tomato plants is so they don't eat them while they're green.
      marydale likes this.
  14. BabyGirl2
    I recently gave my chickens fixed instant oatmeal in ice cream cones. A few young ones were skeptical at first but once the older ones started wolfing it down everyone pilled in.
  15. Kaylalane6
    Are snow peas safe to feed my chickens?
      Susan Dye likes this.
  16. FarrAwayShire
    Thank you for compiling this! Very helpful for newbies like me to have a nice, organized chart :)
  17. iumvs
    The only things my girls like are ritz crackers..
    Great article!
      Bettyboop7499, Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
    1. Bettyboop7499
      Buttery, salty, goodness...who doesn't!
  18. grmakk
    Essential information. Thank you!
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  19. BigATC
    Thanks! Lots of good ideas.
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  20. ChickenGirl.Cluck
    thanks for posting this really a help
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  21. coop410silkies
    My birds love insects: meal worms, crickets, grasshoppers, grubs, beetles, etc. My flocks are free-ranging and opportunistic feeders; they graze the wild grasses continually. I have discovered recently some large colonies of earwigs, which the chickens went bonkers over. It is possible to trap them - a lot of people do this with rolled up newspapers - and feed them out to your birds. They are godsends, not pests. Free and not much work.

    An edit, an afterthought: when thinking of treats, think of what your chooks might be needing. For example, my free ranging birds have access to lots of grass, weeds and seeds and bugs, but they don't have access to any fruits or vegetables, so these are high on my list of treats for them. OTOH, my caged birds don't have access to grass and greens and seeds and bugs, so these are high on my list of treats for them. Think of their circumstances when thinking up treats. Is it cold or warm? Do they need an energy supply, or do they need protein? Are they laying eggs, are they growing, are they replacing feathers, recovering from brooding? Are they active, caged, free ranging, slowing down? Do their feathers and combs look good? I sometimes set out a variety of treats and see which they prefer. It is an interesting cure for boredom and often educational.
  22. Chicks17050
    Mine so far like bluebarrys and worms they don’t like bananas or strawberry’s then agin they are 6 weeks old but they slowly geting more to wanting to eat new things expasjlt when they JSU they got put outside the grass was full blamed and pretty now it’s almsot all dead from 4 girls diging and eating it’s sooo cute they my first chicks so this list really dose help me
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  23. cstronks
    Cherry Tomatoes were always a favorite of my flock!
  24. meat1709
    Cold Watermelon and tomatoes are a treat i like to give them during the summer to help keep them cool. Corn on the cob is also a favorite of theirs along with mashed potatoes. They go crazy over dried meal worms too. I didn't see it on the list, but they also get chilled grapes in the summer which they enjoy. I guess mine knew a little about what was good for them, because one year i tried planting a garden, and the only thing they didn't touch was the green and yellow bean plants. The rest was gone as soon and the plants were out of the ground. Kind of like how the foam insulation board was that was showing below the siding on my house while I was residing it.
      KCrawford2014 and Susan Dye like this.
    1. Chicks17050
      Yes they can have cold they the same just frozen I did mine bluebarrys and they love it
      Susan Dye likes this.
  25. Susan Dye
    Pineapple? How about the core? Is citrus forbidden because it's acidic or for some other reason? The research I did on citrus said they can eat the fruit but not the peels. Is this the main reason citrus is on the list as toxic?
  26. Leader Bee
    Is there a similar list for Geese?
  27. Lilbit6688
    Love this simple list I've actually copied it and put it up for my kids to consult for our chickens. My chicks seem to like peanuts rolled in spinach as a puzzle treat best. Right next to mealworms and small unlucky grasshoppers.
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  28. Kaylalane6
    Can anyone advise if the greenbeans can be fed raw or only cooked?
    I'm thinking cooked based on the chart, but I am a little confused about it.
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  29. Hopperkiller
    I planted kentucky wonder pole beans around my run to provide vining shade for my flock. They prune the leaves as high as they can jump. Are the green beans that will eventually start any hazard if they pick them off the vine. This article says no dried beans but doesnt mention chickens self picking green beans.

    Oops just saw the word raw. Guess i will have to pinch off any blooms they can reach. I reckon i will need to find another climbing annual for next year.
      Susan Dye likes this.
    1. Lilbit6688
      Peas! We always had peas around our coops when I was younger and the chickens always ate them before we had to pick them :-D
      Susan Dye and Hopperkiller like this.
  30. Kaylalane6
    I can't wait to try these with my chickens! I think I'll print it and put it on the refrigerator.

    Question: Are these foods ok for chicks and adolescent chickens?
      Ursula09 and Susan Dye like this.
  31. mudgrl92
    Great list!
      Ursula09 likes this.
  32. millermcnutt
    Watermelon, strawberries, yogurt and nuts are my girls all time favorites! Thanks for the complete list, gives me some new ideas.
      Ursula09 likes this.
  33. WildestThing
    Our neighbor gives us bags and bags of ripe papayas and the chickens and turkeys love them. I cut them up and freeze them for especially hot days. They also love banana leaves, coconuts, moringa leaves, mangoes, comfrey and a lot of other things we grow. Living in the tropics presents great chicken snacking options, but mealy worms are the hands down favorite. They jump up and knock them out of my hand. The turkeys love them too. Amazon sells 11 lb. bags of mealy worms at a really good price compared to the feed stores.
      Susan Dye and Ursula09 like this.
  34. karnie123
    Great article. Very helpful.
      Ursula09 likes this.
  35. Bettyboop7499
    I totally forgot about the green bean rule..and fed my chickens raw green beans? What will happen?
  36. mermaidmadi
    My birds went crazy over the cantaloupe! They LOVE cherry tomatoes (which was too funny watching the ducks try to eat!) and pears as well!
      Susan Dye and Ursula09 like this.
  37. Gillybean05
    Thanks for the post! I'll definitely think about feeding them these things when they move out to the coop!
      Ursula09 likes this.
  38. Bettyboop7499
    Your chickens are GORGEOUS, are those Blue Langshans? You can tell they are well cared for and really healthy. Thanks for the article.
      Ursula09 likes this.
  39. Trace Dunaway
    Very informative!
    I have given mine cat food. YIKES!
    What about dog food?
    Yogart is good to know, I often feed it to my spoiled piggy. :)
    Thank you!! <3
      Susan Dye and Ducksandchickens like this.
  40. Ducksandchickens
    My girls LOVE warm oatmeal. They also eat apple cores and grapes. And chives!!
      Susan Dye and Ursula09 like this.
  41. bekind
    When you say beans, do you mean legumes, like kidney beans, or green beans?
    1. Bettyboop7499
      Both dry beans or green beans should be cooked.
      Ursula09 likes this.
  42. Terri126
      webbysmeme likes this.
    1. featherhead007
      I don't give the hens oatmeal anymore, they like it too much and I get attacked... so no more of that!
      webbysmeme likes this.
  43. Smury739
    Are these treats okay for chicks 2-4 weeks old?
  44. Tcooper75228
    This was very informative. I'm new to raising chickens and had no idea that you give them treats. Thanks for the info.
      Ursula09 likes this.
  45. Tcooper75228
    This was very informative. I'm new to raising chickens and had no idea that you give them treats. Thanks for the info.
  46. m1chelle1
    :goodpost:Great, comprehensive list. Good for any flock master to know :clap
    thank you
      Ursula09 likes this.
  47. Mr.and Mrs.Greenwood
    my girls love oatmeal!
    1. featherhead007
      I give my hens a special oatmeal:
      laying pellets omega 3 purina, mixed with
      dried cherries
      meal worms
      hen scratch
      sometimes scrambled eggs
      or hamburger.
      but if that roo keeps attacking my leg,......He is gonna be dinner!!!
    2. featherhead007
      Oh and sometimes steamed rice
      Ursula09 likes this.
    3. featherhead007
      flash update: collected 7 eggs and the rooster attacked the bucket I use.. Cracked 4 of them... instant scrambled eggs, I dont waste stuff!
      PolishChickMama and Tarce123 like this.
  48. Tarce123
    At what age can I start feeding them treats?
      Ursula09 and ChickyMama6 like this.
    1. featherhead007
      my chicks were eating cooked rice with meal worms at 2 weeks old.
      now they are laying eggs everyday! yes 2 weeks old.
  49. Kevin_87
    Citrus made the not list. My hens eat the fallen lemons and oranges all winter. Do I need to stop this?
      Susan Dye and Leoburns728 like this.
    1. Susan Dye
      I wondered about all those chickens raised in places like FL. Figured they might be eating citrus:)
      Ursula09 likes this.
  50. featherhead007
    Why not feed the hens well? most of us have eggs for whatever reason, so why not make those eggs special and chemical free? aka: Eat healthy!
      blackandtan, Ursula09 and FiddleChics like this.

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