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. chickenlovex3
    my chickens love eating corn. we always give our leftover corn to our 3 chickens. (corn can also be used to play fetch!)
  2. suzannerae
    We had a terrible time with the chickens eating styrofoam. We built a barn using styrofoam forms so it was all over for a while and we couldn't keep them away from it. Didn't seem to hurt them but I didn't eat their eggs for quite awhile :)
  3. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, Buff Hooligans! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
  4. csargent27
    our chickens love strawberries, cherries, cucumbers, corn, watermelon, pasta, tomatoes and some other things as well
  5. emberspapa
    Thank you for sharing....this is information I needed to know.
  6. jkraze
    I've been feeding my girls mangoes for months now, and they love them! I have not had any problems at all.
  7. UrbanEnthusiast
    What about mango skins? I know technically it's not a citrus fruit, but I fed mine some yesterday and today I found some rather huge chicken turds.
  8. KritterKeeper
    Very informative. Thank you!
  9. godsartfarms
    Mine love blueberries and cream! Also goldfish crackers (tiny amounts only) can get our old roo to do anything for us. This list is awesome! So I'm not crazy for wanting to share nummies with the chooks. And that sound they make when a treat is hitting the spot and the beak wiping, they really are precious.
  10. eddiesbaglady
    I love this site and thanks for all the great info! My girls are enjoying a well rounded diet just wish I would have had my camera the first morning they came running down the ramp from their house and saw a suet basket of fresh greens hanging above their heads!Trying yogurt tomorrow, with camera in hand, feel it may be entertaining.
  11. Sharyno
    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed: I was going to offer orange slices later today. SO glad I found your article! I'll offer a bowl of yogurt instead -- and keep my camera ready. Are there any treats we might want to avoid simply because they produce funky-tasting eggs? My girls are too young to lay, but I don't want to introduce any bad habits. Thanks!
  12. EyeHeartBantams
    I bought my chickens a woodpecker bar for them to peck at for a treat, and they seem to love it. It's over half gone in a mere two weeks with three of them, despite my putting scratch out for them daily.
  13. California_chickie
    Very very helpful! I've been working on a little "chicken planter garden" so they have access to fresh treats all the time- now I have a better idea of what to grow. Thanks!
  14. ariconnie48
    Very helpfull list.
  15. TheReadyBoys
    Last year I fed the roosters some summer squash a few times a week. I remember going back to the pen a few hours later and finding the skin left over! Can't wait till the garden starts sprouting this year!
  16. stareyes13
    Gave the babies a snack as per the chart; strawberries, lettuce, & bananas. It was great watching their reactions when they first started pecking the strawberries. They were shy at first but boy-oh-boy, did they love the treats! they finished off the banana chunks first, then moved onto the lettuce; within the hour everything was gone. I would say, they enjoyed their treats. Thanks for the suggestions!
  17. PurplePoppiPpl
    i saw that bird seed was one of the pictures but it wasnt included in the chart should it ony be fed in moderation??? or isit a good treat??
  18. questions543
    my girls HATE yogurt :p
  19. FarmerCyndi
    Anyone know if there's any harm in giving them kiwi fruit?
  20. michelleml
    at what age can they start eating treats?
  21. fricknfricassee
    Thank you for all of this great information. I should have come here first. I started a thread regarding "age" of chickens before giving different treats. I don't see where this topic was mentioned, or I missed it. I was wondering if chicks, like babies, need certain diet requirements at their early stages and if some treats might not be good for their digestion. Just wondering.
  22. jamescarroll001
    how can i get this in a smaller printable version?
  23. UnderHisWings
    Does the same go for chicks? I mean, do they like the same things adults like?
  24. jandrusrn
    As for the citrus.... I've heard that it's due to the vitamin C and it's quite dehydrating because large doses can cause diarrhea. Again with the avocado? So sad that it's not good for them, thinking what great oils they have in them and how healthy they can be for us..... would rather have a healthy flock though so will keep it a no no! Thanks again for the great information.
  25. AnnaerbR
    Ty SOOOOO Much this amazignly helped
  26. Krissy12052
    Thank you for sharing this!! :D
  27. bucksbiddies
    Hi There all you chicken lovers! I tried the yogurt and thought they would like it too ,but, uhn uhn nothing doing. I think I've spoild them by digging up night crawlers for them and they expect them ( the crawlers) now. Kind of funny.
  28. Bird Lady
    A sentence or two on providing grit with treats would be helpful. When chicks need it and when its ok not to give it to them anymore Thank you I love this chart and have it printed on the refrigerator so if anyone ( and they do ) feel the need to give a treat they know what can or can not be given
  29. glitchchick
    I wanted to add that my Hens (Isa brown/10weeks) go crazy over raw coconut. It's been our go to treat as of late. They even like it better then meal worms. Who knew?
  30. LazoRanchPeeps
    Great Info on this page:) TY
  31. Chickies24
    Thanks so much for the advice! I can't wait to let my girls eat so many new things they will probably love! I give them cabbage and the greens of beets and watermelon already and they love it so they'll most likely love these other things too!
  32. bucksbiddies
    Thank You for the chart it is most helpful
  33. jkraze
    Our Australorps love dandelion greens, shredded cheese, and mangoes! I cut the mango in half, rip out the pit, and give them all three pieces. They really go to town over those!
  34. bruceha2000
    Cauliflower was listed with Brocolli
    I started looking at the toxic plants page. OMG what a long list. How do I know if those things are out in the barn yard and pasture?
    Plus this from the list: Beta vulgaris (MANGOLD, SUGAR BEET); leaves; plant contains soluble oxalates and may contain toxic levels of nitrates.
    But the list above says beets and the greens?!? I'm so confused.
  35. HolyCow
    Thank You, this is so helpful to me as we're just starting out, We've had our chickens about 5 months now. We got them as adults from someone who could no longer keep them and we just love them. We got some baby chicks 3 months ago and they have been a joy to watch grow.
  36. FowlmouthChick
    I did not see cauliflower on the treat list nor was it on the toxic list. Has anyone tried feeding cauliflower to their hens? My buff orp's are very picky girls. Nothing seemed to work as a treat until last night when I tried a tiny piece of raw cauliflower. They all went NUTS trying to get to it. It seems like it should be a healthy treat but I just want to make sure.
  37. Daloorashens
    Very helpful, Thanks!!
  38. MSchickenmama
    Great list-My girls are Meal Worms Whores-Wal-mart & from the wild brid feed section are the least expensive( ones label "chicken treat" are more costly). We feed all our farm animals warm oatmeal in the winter.
  39. mamaschnecke
    Awesome list. I am glad to have stumbled across it. Planning on printing it to have as a quick reference!
  40. Billy73
    Are dandelion greens safe for a treat? If so, at what age? Curious because i could pick enough to fill a room lol and my rabbit loves them.
  41. Chicks Galore3
    I will have to try applesauce! My chickies are still young so they don't like solid foods yet.
  42. Susancnw
    At what point can we start giving treats?
  43. ButchGood
    I have probably every toxic plant named on the toxic plant chart on my property. My chickens free range the entire area. I have not had one sick chick. I think chickens may taste this and that, but when it comes to eating toxic levels I doubt they will. Anything man made I'll keep away from them and out of reach, but Im not yanking out flowers, vegetables, and natural growing plants due to toxicity. So far they have figured it out. The treat list is full of ideas to experiment with your chickens. Yogart and mealies are there favorites.
  44. FowlmouthChick
    This site gets more and more helpful everyday! I'm so thrilled to have found the treat section since my chicks are getting ready to move into their new coop and I want to be able to lure them in and out with treats.
    This morning I tried a handful of cracked corn. The first chick closest to me went for it. I didn't even see chick number two as she took off from her roost and bonked me right in the head! Crazy girls!
    As for Areca Palms mentioned on the toxic page. Does anyone know just how toxic? My backyard is lined with Arecas and I'd hate to rip them all out. On the plus side, the chickens won't be free ranging without my supervision.
  45. Rock Home Isle
    Very nice...I liked the photos. Great list.
  46. 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 :)
  47. Bill56
    Thanks for the info!!!!!
  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. 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?
  50. jamesbwood
    Why not fresh raw fish?

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