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. 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.
  2. chickenychicken
    Thanks for the info!!!
    They do love yogort so much, funny to watch them eat it with yogort all over their beeks!
  3. 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!
  4. amelia123
    Thank you!!
  5. countrydreamer8
    what about 4 day old chicks? what can I give them for a treat?
  6. happyowner
    I love this article. Thank you. Alot of helpful information. I like options for the winter months.
  7. ChicksN Coffee
    Thanks for Sharing,
  8. WinterChicks
    Whats wrong with citrus?
  9. Lizard King
    Awesome Page, It Gave Me Some Very Good Guideline For When I Get Chickens In The Near Future!
  10. 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...
  11. ChickyChickens
    Nice page, I have always been wanting to know what TO FEED MY CHICKENS AS TREATS!!
  12. 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
  13. DairyChickenGal
    Thank you for making this! How come you can't give chickens any sort of cirtus?
  14. ezekiel5
    very helpful thanks
  15. arkansas55
    awesome advice,thank you so much,oh boy i'm going to give them some yogurt tomorrow!
  16. jaseyboy1986
    My chickens love strawberries, pears and dandelion leaves.
      cndlou likes this.
  17. 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!!
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. lillieegg
    Awesome chart! Thanks!
  21. Braxton1
    thank you! I printed and saved this page!
  22. teneyck farms
    i always wonderd
    now i know
  23. Wood Lily
    I hang a cabbage in the pen and they spend hours playing "cabbage ball"
  24. Scifisarah
    I would put sweet potatoes in a different category than regular white potatoes. They actually contain lots of different vitamins and would make an excellent treat. We also feed the skins since sweet potatoes are from a different family and don't contain the solanine.
      cndlou likes this.
  25. JazzyChicks
    Posted your list on our local gardening facebook page for all of our chicken-keepers. Thanks for great advise! Haven't tried much beyond mealworms and a couple chopped veggies and fruit which they don't seem to care for, though I wasn't watching them intently after giving it to them. Looking forward to the growing season and finding out what my ladies like and don't!
  26. Aronia
    Eggs and Yogurt.
  27. ANG2010
    love this post. we refer to it every few days.
  28. Stumpy
    Great information and lovely photos!
  29. Meadowchick
    I didn't think about checking out the "weeds"! The saga continues....On a veggie note, my hens don't like pumpkin flesh, only the seeds. And, they won't eat pears either! Go figure.
  30. Rfournier
    New chicken Mom here! Everytime I look something up on Bing, BYC pops up & I get all the info I need on the topic. You guys are absolutely wonderful. Seriously do not know what I would do without all of you!
      cndlou likes this.
  31. CountryGal517
    What a great posting. Will be using this a reference for years to come. Thank you so much for making this list!!!
  32. Sweet Basil
    My girls love for me to mix a bunch of quick oats into a big dish of yogurt. You're right, it does get everywhere!
      cndlou likes this.
  33. Wishapup
    Thank you, very informative, and some creative ideas! Might consider birdseed.
  34. sophyluvssilkie
    thank you for the help
  35. chikkenfriend
    I'm a rookie. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanx!
  36. momaroo
    I bought some minnows for my duck and to my surprise, the chicks stuck their heads in the duck pool and grabbed the live minnows out. They loved them and fought over who got the last one. You say that they should eat only cooked fish. Are these minnows a problem??
  37. Beulah89
    Oh but why can't they have citrus?
  38. Beulah89
    Well this will explain why they weren't interested in the mandarin and raw bean lunch I gave them!
  39. Bella Blue
    I feed my girls live big fat nighcrawlers I buy from loacal fishing or sporting good, or one stop shopping stores. I have even started farming worms in a box because my girls love them more than anything and I get bigger eggs the morning after I feed them the worms. I am disabled us don't have many places in the yard to dig for them. I haven't seen the live nightcrawlers on any treat lists but being they tend to yum those up where ever they find them I am assuming they are safe.one big plus I found is that the worms like to eat chicken pellet or crumble food..so I toss in the wasted food they kick out to the worms and get super nutrient packed healthy worms and heathy chickens so far.and no more wasted food!
  40. Wintryamythyst
    Thank You so much for this list! This is exactly what I needed as I am a new chicken owner with NO clue as to what to feed them other than the layer pellets. Great info for first timers!
  41. kjfrogster41
    Very helpful, thanks. My girls are a bit fussy. Will not touch many raw vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, beets and cooked beans. Since they are currently doing a heavy molt, I am looking for high protein foods. They used to love cottage cheese but won't touch it now. Mealworms are still a big treat. Will cooked hamburger be okay? What about cooked fish? Any other suggestions much appreciated.
  42. bantambury
    so if we use yogurt, we can use any flavor like strawberry and it wont bother them? also, would the sugars in the yogurt bother them too much?
  43. TweetyNPetey
    My girls went NUTS when they tasted their first bit of yogurt... They flung it all over my arms, and their beaks were purple...
    Blueberry yogurt.. Sweet, sweet blueberry yogurt.
  44. MiniByte
    Wow, a lot of good information, thank you so much for posting this! Is there any chance these charts could be made into a PDF file that could be downloaded to use as a quick reference??
  45. lillydaisy
    Great list going out to try the yogurt :D
  46. The Mother Hen
    I heard that potatoes are actually bad for chickens. I avoid giving them ANY of them, even if they are the sweet potatoes.
  47. IzzyMom
    I have this printed out, laminated, and hanging by the backdoor - that way anyone wanting to feed the chickens a "treat" can look up the item and see if it's safe or not :) Thank you so very much for posting this!
      Farm Gurl likes this.
  48. redfeather13
    commercial cat food is detrimental to dogs too if eaten regularly (according to my vet)
    I'm sure too that I have read NO to bananas and avocado?? both have similar texture?
    chooks love meat!! One of my girls particularly likes fruit - not citrus though.
    I used to have a flock who would get into the garden and demolish the leave of rhubarb with no ill effect. :)
    They, like this lot, had free range of a backyard (different location)
  49. chicksak
    great information, thank you!
  50. pizza101
    What a great link for someone like me that's just starting out with chickens! Thanks so much!

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