Chicken Treat Chart—the Best Treats for Backyard Chickens

This is a list of everything you can feed a chicken. Anything on this list is worth a try.
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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  1. ChickensAreSweet
    Very helpful page! Thanks!
  2. tweetysvoice
    Very useful list! I appreciate the time you took to make this out for us! Thank you!
      featherhead007 likes this.
  3. Frostee
    Hmm, the chickens don't seem to be interested... What age do they start to want treats? All they eat is the mealworms
      featherhead007 likes this.
  4. zrambo
    Thanks for the info
  5. djgenco
    Thanks for Sharing, very good information.
  6. jhamblin
  7. kilby
    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
  8. LegginMF12
    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.
  9. Sommalincolne Bantie Roo
    Thanks for the Information, good to know! Yogurt esp strawberry is a favourite for mine and sweetcorn...they lov it!
  10. Anastacia
    Great info for someone like me who is just starting out
  11. kilby
    I sprout popcorn for my lovebirds. I bet the chickies would love it too. They are already liking sprouted wheat berries and yogurt.
  12. Feral Farrells
    the cricket experience is a must! My girls went nuts chasing those things all around their yard. Too funny!
  13. keenecowboy
    cooked oatmeal
  14. 44Wolves
    Why is Citrus bad? There is only a period in the reason. xD
  15. iluvsedward
    Citrus is bad for many animals because it gives them diariah.
  16. thebeckster
    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 :)
      JumbeThePigDuck likes this.
  17. Mpracey
    a couple of more toxic foods - the vet told me to stay away from Parsley & avocado both are toxic to chickens.
  18. Jobele
    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!
  19. dixiem
    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.
  20. heddahawaii
    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!
  21. allygb99
    thanks a bunch! i had no idea i shouldnt hae been feeding avocado to my chickes.i will STOP! i wish i would have know chickens like oatmeal, i had some extra yesterday.and yogurt, thanks again
  22. krys2000
    This is the most useful thing I have found on your site! I refer to it almost EVERY DAY! It has saved me from feeding the wrong thing to my girls! BYC ROCKS!
  23. simplegirl1970
    This is very helpful! Just what I've been looking for. I can't wait to give the girls some yogurt.
  24. TeenChickNQueen
    VERY helpful because I have picky chicks.....just like their parents(prabably cause their spoiled).........they like herbs and Iwas wondering if they can eat green onions
  25. ALRwild
    This is a great list! Your chickens look nice and healthy! :)
  26. alexandherpets
    i offered my silkie chicken a fresh strawberry yesterday and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. With just one little peck she was done with strawberries, lol. what a silly chickie!
  27. Chicken Lover 1
    Love this page thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  28. redrooster78
    this is great info,thank you
  29. Bambi bird
    i am feeding my "rainbow" (a silki, a red shaver, a polish and a half orpington) of chickens crushed maze, is this correct?
  30. see0508
    When do I begin introducing these treats and other chicken scratch, etc? I have 2 Australorps that are about 5 months old. I have been following the Feed Store's advice and giving them only chick scratch until they begin laying eggs. Is this right?
  31. kilby
    At five months they are almost ready to lay. Your choice. One thing to note my nine month old comets still love their chick scratch. More so than hen scratch even. I tested with smaller bags. The hen scratch they did not go for too early in life so I think your vet is right.
    Scratch helps them be active. Popcorn at that age I think is dangerous. Mine had one stuck in her beak and If I wasn't there I don't know what. Supervise!!! They have learnt to break it up and they are stronger now so I don't worry.
  32. karhpern
    Thank you so much! being new to the chicken world this is VERY helpful!
    Looking forward to more posts and learning all I can!
  33. bigbike4
    Hummmmm. . . there may yet be a reason for leaving that dirt floor room-a dirt floor-see I have a large amount of cave crickets in there and have often thought of concreting it over. ( I will eventually) , but if the chickens could catch and kill the darn things in the meantime. . . . .
  34. TabbyChickens
    are all of those treats okay to feed to chicks?
  35. happycamperkid
    Thanks for this I will keep this in my files for the rest of my chicken raising life! :p
  36. fmburson
    This is a fantastic and informative page, thank you so much for the work you did in creating this for all of us, especially a beginner like myself!
  37. 6chicksinatub
    "I gave up on my birds knowing what was best for them when I caught them all eating a block of Styrofoam pellets."
    Our chickens eat the Styrofoam out of our jacuzzi cover every chance they get.
  38. hermione123
    Very useful list! I appreciate the time you took to make this out for me a very big Thank you!
  39. BeulahBreezes
    Thanks for the information!
  40. MrsSerfesME
    This is excellent information as I have many people who have worked on chicken farms or think they know about chickens who have said you can feed chickens anything. While there is a pretty good list of things they can eat, it is good to know what they can't so that I can avoid given them those and also make sure that I don't know have things harmful to them planted in my gardens (or can keep them inaccessible to my chickens). Thank You!
  41. americana-lover
    This helped me sooooooo much!
  42. ChickenCrazy8
    Thanks sooo much for this list it is super helpful :)
  43. ThreesACharm
    Our Jersey Giants are particularly fond of cat litter, especially right from the litterbox. Not sure how nutritious it is, though!
    Leftover corn-on-the-cob, bananas, stale bread and strawberries are HUGE hits with all of our birds (except the wyendottes, who are the pickiest birds I've ever met) -- our Rhode Island Reds will even take strawberries over earthworms & mealworms.
  44. donald main
    Wow a great page. Now I will know what treats to give them. I am new at this and BYC has been a great help so far. Best info on the net. THANKS
  45. woodyrasa
    Thank you so much for the info.
    My coop is coming and the chickens shortly after
  46. jamesbwood
    Why not fresh raw fish?
  47. kellya126
    Here's a strange question, what about grains that have been steeped to make beer? We made a batch of beer today and rather than throwing the steeped grains in the compost, thought they looked like something the chicks might enjoy. They are not fermented, just steeped in water, no hops (heard that hops are lethal to dogs, so figured would not even consider it with the chicks), just the grains, and organic to boot. Grains are listed as treats, but curious about the steeped grains used for beer. Any ideas?
  48. tracylo09
    Thank you for all the info on feeding, my girls love grapes but it a fight to make sure everybody gets some. They also love meal worms I scatter them on their scratching area, they are gone in a flash. I am going to try them with yoghurt tomorrow as this seems to be a popular treat, can't wait to see their reaction.
  49. Bill56
    Thanks for the info!!!!!
  50. ThreesACharm
    kellya126 -- moist & mushy grains are fine for chickens -- I feed it to our babies once they're a few weeks old, and to any chick who's having issues with eating :) even brewer's yeast is okay to feed to chickens. You just have to make sure that the grains aren't moldy, so feed it to them right away, because wet grain can moldy very fast -- sometimes by the next day!
    I usually mix some mushed-up bananas or strawberry pieces in with it for extra treats, kind of like chicken oatmeal. They love it :)

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