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. JustRambling
    This is one of my favorite articles that I have read. I don't have chickens yet, we are at the "research" stage and have to get it approved by the town, but in the meantime, articles like this help pass the time. This is definitely print-worthy and plan to do so once I actually do have chickens of my own. :D
      Grits Chick and Makiah Porter like this.
  2. Show Chicks
    My chickens will get in the house and eat the cat food!
      mseely and Marie Gilkey like this.
    1. Nannychickchick
      My UK sassy chicken VIOLET used to walk in back door..daily
      1, eat all / any cat food left
      2 sit in my tub chair waiting to see what we were having for breakfast..if it was bacon she was staying ..bread and butter too,
      3 if we were ' late' she would sit in front of the oven waiting for bacon to emerge!! ( she once jumped up and took husbands fried bread!!)
      We gave up and just put 2 rashes for her every day!
      When bacon was gone..so was she! So funny!
      featherhead007 and Susan Dye like this.
    2. Nannychickchick
      PS when we moved to Bulgaria we could not take our beloved flock, they all went to a vegetarian lady to be loved..NO MORE
      Bacon butties or mealworms for violet!
      Husband says what goes around...comes around..; )
      Susan Dye likes this.
  3. Show Chicks
    My chickens will get in the house and eat the cat food!
      cndlou likes this.
  4. BabyGirl2
    I gave my chickens yogurt in ice cream cones. It took a few seconds to figure out if they wanted to give it a try but they eventually tried it and liked it. Great treats and love the list.
  5. Cadbury22
    This article was so helpful! I wasn't sure about cooked corn on the cob. I gave some to my 3 month old pullets. They bocked at it and ran away! The quirrel was happy though :D
      cndlou and southern yankee chick like this.
  6. featherhead007
    dont take a knapp they WILL eat your Subway sandwich ... that was my dinner for later now they are full and I go hungry
    1. featherhead007
      dammit they even eat take out pizza, again they attack! and again I was blind sighted... chickens eat pizza? but their eggs are quite tasty!
      IzzyMom likes this.
  7. Egg-citable
    My girls love corn on the cob along with steak bones (dogs not happy) along with shrimp tails. They had their own surf and turf meal!
  8. Chickenrunlady
    Ummmm I just gave my 9-week old chickens yogourt......who the heck would have thought this, they went NUTS for it. So anyone else while doing groceries buy thing for their chickens.....I thinks I may have gone a little mad...LOL!
    1. nenebynature
      I buy stuff for my chickens all the time at the grocery!
  9. Sweet Crumble
    My chickens LOVE raw chicken scraps, (cannibals:lol::lau) and they are also CRAZY about rolled oats and oatmeal. Sometimes, when its cold out, I make them oatmeal, and serve it warm. They love it.
    They also like it when I soak their grains, in the summer though, because if doesnt dry it'll go bad.
    I used to feed some of them frozen blueberries as well, they seemed to like those.
      dancesCchicks and Chickies101 like this.
    1. featherhead007
      so, you love your birds as much as I do mine
    2. hooktontravel
      around here in winter i'm careful feeding warm cooked things on cold days. If it's below freezing, and especially below zero, the steam can cause frostbite on the combs and wattles.

      otherwise, they DO love it! I actually often use crumbles or mash and mix in hot or warm water for them. chicken porridge and it's got all the balanced nutrition in it, too!
      Katie Scarlett and cndlou like this.
    3. Sommalincolne Bantie Roo
      I read an article about giving Porridge to Chickens as mine adore it with warm water. Apparently it can kill chickens????? Ahhh noooo! I stopped immediately. I think l saved the article if anybody would like to read it.
  10. Luffa
    Not only was this a wonderfully helpful article but that photo of the puzzled chicken checking out that lobster carcass had me laughing for five minutes! The long antenna arching over the ravaged shellfish framed the upcoming feast beautifully.

    BTW, did they actually eat it?
      cndlou likes this.
    1. featherhead007
      That one pic was funny!! Puzzled over lobster
      Farmgal101 likes this.
  11. Jess-A-Chick-A
    Appreciate you putting this together! Thank you for the information. Very helpful since I'm new to raising chickens!!
      Katie Scarlett likes this.
  12. 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.
  13. mohdhamza
    Once I also caught my hens feeding on styrofoam. Here we call it thermocol.
      cndlou likes this.
  14. Chickenrunlady
    Thank you for this list, it answered a lot of questions for me.
  15. hennypenny95
    Here's a little idea for giving chickens a treat during hot a hot day. All you'll need is a muffin tin and some canned corn. Just pour the corn into the muffin tin (adding more water if needed) and freeze! Not only do they get something to peck at and keep themselves busy, but they also get some nice and cold corn to eat! My girls love it! :D
  16. dunnmom
    That part about the styrofoam... My girls ate a good bit of the insulation board we put in their coop this winter :oops:. Next winter it's going on the outside.
      nenebynature likes this.
    1. ShinShien
      My chickens love Styrofoam. It's like a favorite treat. Must be a chicken thing.
      cndlou and pginsber like this.
  17. Flufferes
    My chickens despise carrots, but like eating the leaf part. Ugh, when they get in the garden they cause havoc....
  18. ShinShien
    My chickens hate vegetables of all kinds. Why? They live on a dry lot. Wouldn't one think they'd like veggies to munch on? They only want seeds, cat/dog food, meat scraps, insects, etc...apparently, expensive and high-protein is all they want.
      pginsber likes this.
    1. dunnmom
      Mine only get excited about leafy greens and ears of corn. They seem to view any other fruit or veggie as suspicious. They will eat the seeds from squash and melon, but most of the scraps I give them end up being used as an attractor for bugs.
    2. Nannychickchick
      You forgot the bacon butties! Don't be mean! Lol
  19. tjogowin
    My girls favorites, they love yogurt, watermelon and Corn on the cob, I hang it and it gives them hours of entertainment.
  20. FlyWheel
    You feel there is something "...wrong" about feeding cooked chicken to your chickens, yet have no qualms about giving them cooked eggs. Now think about this a minute...would you eat your wife's eggs? Cooked or otherwise?? LOL
      ChickenLover200 likes this.
    1. ShinShien
      Then you realize egg yolk is a chick's first food.
  21. MartinsPoultry
    I know another treat they love any time of year and I do it every other month. Its a suet cake you feed to wild woodpeckers. My guys and gals go banana's for them.
    1. Nannychickchick
      Recipe please?
  22. bergmanchicken
    My Little's chicks love grape and lettuce blended in blender and mixed with scratch
      cndlou and nenebynature like this.
  23. 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!
  24. kcpaull
    Another reason to not feed them cat food is that if you feed them anything that has fish meal in it, it can make their eggs smell and taste fishy. We had a wild hen and rooster around last year and they were sneaking our cat's food when we weren't guarding it. When the hen started laying in a little nesting box I'd made for her, I couldn't eat the eggs. The smell and taste made me gag. I now have hens of my own who are laying and I keep them away from the cat food and their eggs smell and taste fine. They also eat things that I worry will hurt them like azalea leaves, saw dust from treated wood and Japanese Holly, but so far, none of them have been ill. I've come to the conclusion that they will eat anything they can swallow. I go through 4 heads of cabbage a week since we are having a severe drought and their foraging time is getting shorter as the days get shorter. They love their cabbage! While I was putting up a fresh one yesterday morning, one of my Easter Egger hens flew up to sit on my shoulder. I do find it odd that mine won't eat earthworms. That may be good as I don't know how they would affect the taste of the eggs.
      nenebynature likes this.
    1. dunnmom
      My hen's eggs are occasionally fishy, but I've never fed them fish. I found out after a little research that it's because of a high level of Omega-3's in their eggs. The reason fish smell the way they do is also because of the high levels of Omega-3's in their fat stores. Makes sense then that eating fish would do that. I don't actually mind fishy eggs.
  25. 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.
  26. Fluffers
    i can't stand it! Your chickens are SOOOO ADORABLE!!!
      southern yankee chick likes this.
  27. Linda V
    All Good but for one! There are no Cheerio cereals that do NOT have sugar in it, so I don't think that a good idea. My "girls" haven't read this list apparently, as there are some great items on here they won't touch - like sugar-free, applesauce and dried meal worms! It took 3 attempts to get them to finally eat and enjoy cabbage leaves! :)
      nenebynature likes this.
  28. NewbieChickster
    Anyone have experience with Blueberries, because my birds are ignoring them.
      nenebynature likes this.
    1. nenebynature
      Mine gobbled them this winter and spring when I mixed it with yogurt and hot oatmeal
      cndlou likes this.
    2. Angry chipmunk
      I toss them into the yard by the handful when they free range. They come running out of seemingly nowhere and make mad grabs for berries, chasing around the lucky winners trying to steal a taste.
  29. twinsmom6
    thank you for the details.. really feel like these chickens are more than just egg layers.. and want them to stay well.
  30. rtj18175
    I just picked off, thinned my apple tree, about one inch size. Can they be fed to chickens ?
  31. Black Beauties
    reviewed once again
  32. wolfinator
    I have used this list to make my own treat mix for my chickens. I combine raisins, dehydrated cranberries, old fashioned oatmeal, barley, sunflower seeds with and without shell (kind for birds), unsalted peanuts - shelled, a little oyster shell, and some bird seed. They get about 1-1 1/2 cups sprinkled all over the straw/pine shavings in their coop every evening - especially when it's going to be below 32 degrees. I have Silkie hens and roosters, Showgirl hens, Bantam Cochin/Silkie mixed hen and a Silkie/Rhode Island Red mixed hen. They get fresh veggies and fruits several times a week along with their regular food. They also get canned no salt added corn or carrots or fruit cocktail in natural juices - no sugar added when I run out of fresh veggies or fruits. I'm glad they have a list of what foods not to feed them because I'd never known that citrus is dangerous to them. Thanks for providing the information.
      cndlou likes this.
  33. Katrina113
    My eight girls love any kind of head lettuce. Any kind. Destroy it in under 5 minutes love it so much. So I tried a red cabbage the other day. I think it lasted 20 minutes. And they loved it. On the colder mornings, we have been doing oatmeal mixed with "Rave" mix (BOSS, cracked corn and meal worms). If given then chance, they will pick out all the meal worms first. We did a baked squash the other day, and they raided all the seeds (I didn't scoop them out) first, then came back for the meat. I had tossed some roasted baby reds in the compost pile, and they chased each other for the potato treats.
      nenebynature likes this.
  34. Vbrown71
    Thank you for Posting very helpful
  35. 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!
  36. 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.
  37. Black Beauties
    thanks for this great advice!! Mine love persian melon they tear into it demolish in no time 15 young hen black Astralorps
  38. 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.
  39. Black Beauties
    thank you this helps I have some cooked fish and frozen peas I want to feed them
  40. dorena33
    Great list and ideas! My chickens also like almond leaves and blossoms, petunia leaves and marigolds, but not the flowers?! Tomatoes and tomato leaves, sometimes geranium leaves. I give them chopped curly leaf kale and red cabbage once or twice a day, not huge amounts. They love snails but not the huge ugly slugs. Go figure!!
      nenebynature likes this.
  41. Birdlover 13
    Great info, thanks a lot!!!
  42. 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.
  43. chickenychicken
    Thanks for the info!!!
    They do love yogort so much, funny to watch them eat it with yogort all over their beeks!
  44. 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!
  45. amelia123
    Thank you!!
  46. countrydreamer8
    what about 4 day old chicks? what can I give them for a treat?
  47. happyowner
    I love this article. Thank you. Alot of helpful information. I like options for the winter months.
  48. ChicksN Coffee
    Thanks for Sharing,
  49. WinterChicks
    Whats wrong with citrus?
  50. Lizard King
    Awesome Page, It Gave Me Some Very Good Guideline For When I Get Chickens In The Near Future!

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