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 · ·
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  1. Buff Hooligans
    CHICKEN TREATS


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    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: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/feedback-on-learning-center-treats-chart.21530/#post-188621


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

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    Treat

    TypeGeneral Opinions
    ApplesRaw and applesauceApple seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient quantities to kill.
    Asparagus
    Raw or cooked
    Okay to feed, but not a favorite.
    Bananas
    Without the peelHigh in potassium, a good treat.
    Beans
    Well-cooked only, never dryAlso, greenbeans.
    Beets
    Greens also..
    Berries
    All kindsA treat, especially strawberries.
    Breads
    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.
    Carrots
    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)
    Cereal
    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.
    Cucumbers
    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.
    Eggplant.
    .
    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.
    GritsCooked.
    "Leftovers"
    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.
    Mealworms
    (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).
    .
    PomegranatesRaw
    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.
    Raisins..
    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.
    .
    TurnipsCooked.
    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.

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

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    Here is Rooster-Red and his chickens enjoying their yogurt.

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

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

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    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.

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

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

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    Here's a bowl of warm oatmeal, girls!

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    Warm oatmeal's even better after a big snowstorm:


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    Some leftover steamed rice with veggies:


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    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".)


    Item


    Here’s why:

    Raw green potato peelsToxic substance called Solanine.
    Anything really saltyCan cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.
    Citrus.
    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:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/comprehensive-list-of-poisonous-plants-and-trees.627282/

    * 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 ...it 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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Comments

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  1. 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.
  2. karnie123
    Great article. Very helpful.
  3. Bettyboop7499
    I totally forgot about the green bean rule..and fed my chickens raw green beans? What will happen?
  4. 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!
  5. Gillybean05
    Thanks for the post! I'll definitely think about feeding them these things when they move out to the coop!
  6. Bettyboop7499
    Your chickens are GORGEOUS, are those Blue Langshans? You can tell they are well cared for and really healthy. Thanks for the article.
  7. Ducksandchickens
    My girls LOVE warm oatmeal. They also eat apple cores and grapes. And chives!!
  8. 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.
  9. Tcooper75228
    This was very informative. I'm new to raising chickens and had no idea that you give them treats. Thanks for the info.
  10. Tcooper75228
    This was very informative. I'm new to raising chickens and had no idea that you give them treats. Thanks for the info.
  11. m1chelle1
    :goodpost:Great, comprehensive list. Good for any flock master to know :clap
    thank you
    ~M
  12. Tarce123
    At what age can I start feeding them treats?
    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.
      ChickaMama49 and Tarce123 like this.
  13. Frenchie8250
    how do i save this list to pinterest?
  14. Nashonii
    Should you feed chickens moldy bread?
    1. Wolfgang B.
      Definately not! Only feed your chickens what you would still eat yourself.
      featherhead007 and Lenixen like this.
  15. Tane Z
    I see no mention of celery so I am wondering if I can feed my four week old chickens the leaves off of celery?
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Tane Z
      I figured I would follow up my question. I did done research on other sites and they all said yes. I gave my girls some and they seemed to have either eaten it or burried it. Lol
      Chullicken and IzzyMom like this.
    3. Chullicken
      I feed my grown hens and rooster celery whole..not a huge favorite in the flock by any means of the word. It's very ok to give chicks that, just make sure as they develop and the weeks go by you are adding chick grit for them to access.
      lhasselle and featherhead007 like this.
    4. featherhead007
      My birds won't eat celery, I tried
  16. emily97
    Can someone explain to me how to post a picture...
    1. bruceha2000
      Either by clicking on the picture icon or click on "upload a file". Might have to be in the full editor to see them.
  17. Shadow920
    what about dog food. my chickens really seem to like it especially when i soak it in water to make it easier for them to eat.
  18. Chickenrunlady
    Thank you for this list, it answered a lot of questions for me.
  19. Flufferes
    My chickens despise carrots, but like eating the leaf part. Ugh, when they get in the garden they cause havoc....
  20. tjogowin
    My girls favorites, they love yogurt, watermelon and Corn on the cob, I hang it and it gives them hours of entertainment.
  21. coop410silkies
    Raw peanuts? Good information, many thanks. My birds scramble for live "whole" foods. I sometimes order crickets by the thousand online from mail-order pet and reptile supply houses. And Superworms (Zoophoba sp.) make wonderful fare for birds that can't get out to forage on their own for live food. Waxworms, too. And don't forget those cute blind mouse babies (pinkies). I often give my chickens animal-sourced treats, like hardboiled or scrambled eggs or fresh hamburger. Don't forget that chickens are omnivorous, not necessarily vegetarian. They will love you for remembering this.
    1. Sipplchicks
      In nature all birds eat bugs even hummingbirds so that makes sense!
  22. NewbieChickster
    Just was wondering... I know it says it is okay to feed them cooked beans. I am specifically going to ask about black beans. My family won't eat them and I just soaked them and cooked them. I was going to give them to the ladies for protein, but the toxic thing has me scared. I would rather not risk feeding them anything that could hurt them. We have put to much time and energy into them at this point to just watch them die from beans.
    1. ShinShien
      Mine love cooked beans.
  23. twinsmom6
    thank you for the details.. really feel like these chickens are more than just egg layers.. and want them to stay well.
  24. rtj18175
    I just picked off, thinned my apple tree, about one inch size. Can they be fed to chickens ?
  25. Black Beauties
    reviewed once again
  26. Vbrown71
    Thank you for Posting very helpful
  27. chickenraiser24
    Can you feed chickens cheese? I didn't see it on the list, and I have heard people say their chickens love it. Other than that, great list!
  28. love them chick
    Every time I have a question I run to this list. Thank you for posting it. Today our chickens had broiled fish and rice.
  29. Black Beauties
    thanks for this great advice!! Mine love persian melon they tear into it demolish in no time 15 young hen black Astralorps
  30. cricketmt
    So are chickens picky about yogurt? I fed mine some greek yogurt that was past its "sell by" date....I had more in the fridge and thought "why not" since I'd heard they like it so much.

    They wouldn't touch the stuff.
  31. Black Beauties
    thank you this helps I have some cooked fish and frozen peas I want to feed them
  32. Birdlover 13
    Great info, thanks a lot!!!
  33. Sumerr
    Is this ok for baby chicks too?? Mine are 9 days old now and I just bought them some grit today, but haven't given them anything besides the chick food yet.
  34. chickenychicken
    Thanks for the info!!!
    They do love yogort so much, funny to watch them eat it with yogort all over their beeks!
  35. N F C
    I have referred to this chart so many, many times (and passed it on to others as well). Great info, thank you!
  36. amelia123
    Thank you!!
  37. countrydreamer8
    what about 4 day old chicks? what can I give them for a treat?
  38. happyowner
    I love this article. Thank you. Alot of helpful information. I like options for the winter months.
  39. ChicksN Coffee
    Thanks for Sharing,
  40. WinterChicks
    Whats wrong with citrus?
  41. Lizard King
    Awesome Page, It Gave Me Some Very Good Guideline For When I Get Chickens In The Near Future!
  42. missypebble
    Does anyone know if it's ok to feed coconut milk yogurt to chickens? I don't want to feed cow's milk yogurt to them.
    Also, what's wrong with feeding uncooked rice to chickens?
    In my experience, fruits are great, but those with higher sugar content needs to be in moderation in feeding them to chicken...
  43. ChickyChickens
    Nice page, I have always been wanting to know what TO FEED MY CHICKENS AS TREATS!!
  44. Scifisarah
    My *guess* is that they can't have citrus because it would mess with how their bodies absorb the calcium to make eggs. Citrus/citric acid would break down the calcium and flush it out of the body. Other vitamins like vitamin D help more calcium be absorbed. Someone can correct me if I am wrong though.
    1. Farm Gurl
      That would make sense to me
  45. DairyChickenGal
    Thank you for making this! How come you can't give chickens any sort of cirtus?
  46. ezekiel5
    very helpful thanks
  47. arkansas55
    awesome advice,thank you so much,oh boy i'm going to give them some yogurt tomorrow!
  48. Sommalincolne Bantie Roo
    Brilliant post always good to know wat you can and cannot feed. Plus wat others find their little darlings like to endeavour!!
  49. chickenlover47
    Thank you for the advice on toxic plants and food. I wish there were picture of the the plants since the plants are what peek my interest after reading your list, I don't want to hurt my chickens. I have fallen in love with them.
  50. LadyKjo
    Great chart. I noticed that mushrooms are on the toxic list but it says "wild varieties", but I was wondering about portabella mushrooms or white mushrooms purchased in a store- sometimes I purchase them on sale to make dinners and salads with. I guess what I want to know is if all mushrooms are toxic to chickens as I would never knowingly let them eat a wild mushroom, but would like to give them leftover salad (no dressing) which might contain a mushroom slivers. I guess I could pick out the mushrooms but I'm lazy and would probably compost most of it instead and just give them the lettuce.

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