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.
  1. Buff Hooligans
    This is a list of 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 worth a try.
    Your comments are welcome - please post them on
    At the bottom of the page are things you should avoid feeding your chickens.

    TypeGeneral Opinions
    ApplesRaw and applesauce
    Apple seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient quantities to kill.
    Raw or cooked
    Okay to feed, but not a favorite.
    BananasWithout the peelHigh in potassium, a good treat.
    Well-cooked only, never dry

    Also, greenbeans.
    Greens also.

    All kinds

    A treat, especially strawberries.
    All kinds - 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 head -

    Hang a whole cabbage from their coop ceiling in winter so they have something to play with and greens to eat.
    CarrotsRaw 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)
    CerealCheerios, 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 (alive)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 / Seafood
    Cooked 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.
    Seedless only.
    For chicks, cutting them in half makes it easier for them to swallow.

    Great fun - the cause of many entertaining "chicken keepaway" games.

    Only feed your chickens that which is 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 huge(!) favorite treat, probably the most foolproof treat on the books.
    Meat scraps of any kind.Not too fatty.In moderation, a good source of protein
    MelonCantelope, etc.Both seeds and 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.
    Peas and pea tendrils and flowers (thanks to YayChick for the advice)

    Peppers (bell)


    Seeds are a big treat.
    Popped, no butter, no salt.
    Potatos / Sweet Potatos/YamsCooked only - avoid green parts of peels!Starchy, not much nutrition
    Pumpkins / Winter SquashRaw or cookedBoth seeds and flesh are a nutritious treat.
    Cooked 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 zucchini
    Yellow squash not a huge favorite, but okay to feed.
    Sunflower Seeds
    Sunflower seeds with the shell still on is fine to feed, as well as with the shell off.

    A good treat, helps hens lay eggs and grow healthy feathers.
    Raw and cooked.
    Not a huge favorite
    Served 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 very good for their intestinal health.

    Here are two photos from Rooster-Red of 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, "better safe than sorry".)


    Here’s why:
    Raw green potato peels
    Toxic substance called Solanine.
    Anything real 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 Pit
    Skin 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 / mature cat / 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

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  1. jgrove
    How old do my baby chicks need to be before they are allowed treats?
  2. Nooreddin
    What kind of yogurt can I feed? Or does it not matter?
      Hazel Bosco likes this.
  3. Jim&Dee
    I've asked twice and nothing yet. I don't know what happened to my post's. So here I am. How much feed should it take to feed nine chickens and six ducks.
  4. Laura Gerrard
    Don't feed apple core because the seeds have cyanide in them
      Jim&Dee likes this.
  5. 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. Jim&Dee
      I would like to know the same thing.
      Tane Z likes this.
    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
      Jim&Dee likes this.
  6. extrememainer
    I love the pictures of them with oatmeal but I would not really like them eating chicken...
      Jim&Dee likes this.
    1. Nooreddin
      My uncle back home feeds his chicken, chicken almost every week lol
  7. 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.
  8. blackandtan
    If I could figure out how I'd post a video of my girls...and the ducks...and the pet Turkey arguing over a deer carcass! Also note that birds like shiny stuff and will eat anything they can fit in their beaks. Like sockets. And screws.
    Then there was the time my hubby saved a hen from choking on a big toad.....
    Really it would be easier to list what they DONT eat!
      Jim&Dee, Susan Dye and IzzyMom like this.
  9. ViolinPlayer123
  10. cyberdave
    Well Done!:> Thank You!!!!!
  11. extrememainer
    My chickens basically attack my dog when he eats his wet dog food
      Lisa Wood and Susan Dye like this.
    1. Lisa Wood
      We have a tamed feral kitty who MOVED into chicken run of her own accord!? She gets her can of wet food at night, but only AFTER chickens have retired. The big ones will chase her out of her little crate, occupy her crate, and eat her canned food. They LOVE it!
    2. malmohuset
      We have to feed our dogs in a large kennel to keep the chickens out. Our Rooster will push the dogs off their dinner and they are not brave enough to come back.
      JimNKC and Jim&Dee like this.
  12. Jim&Dee
    Very informative article. Thanks.
  13. LMB1959
    Thank for this list, we have 6 chicks, and they are growing so quickly, I'm trying to keep up with their appetites!
      Jim&Dee likes this.
  14. Grits Chick
    Thanks for all the info- very informative and like your comments on feeding chickens chicken and catfood. Seems cat and dogfood all have chicken in them, also. Doubly, ugh, wrong to me ... just saying! Want to add that I lost a chicken, presumably to wild growing mushrooms. I try to pull up all of these, but with 2 acres of free ranging available to my chix-an impossible task. Second the comment on not trusting your chickens to know what is best for them!!!
    1. extrememainer
  15. BabyGirl2
    My chickens weren't sure about the raisins I gave them but after one brave hen gave it a try others joined.
    I also buy unsalted sunflower seeds at the checkout counter, they disappear so I guess they eat them. But their favs are tomatoes, watermelon, and lettuce, and a few like the eggs I don't get to before they do.
  16. Featherbrain1986
    Do mangoes count as citrus? I just cheese-grated a small frozen chunk for I'm worried that I hurt them. I know they aren't known as citrus, but they do have that citrus pucker...
  17. Wildkatzchicken
    I love feeding my hens big, fat horn worms. Usually found while weeding on my tomato plants (bad worms)! They are fun to watch as they run after one another!
      cndlou likes this.
  18. Susan Dye
    I feed my hens Happy Hen Treats Party Mix and my one hen, so far, who isn't afraid to eat out of my hand, eats all the raisins first! She plucks them out as quickly as she can to be sure there are none left for the others.
  19. Chicken Wisperer
    This is a very good article. I personally never give my chickens anything I wouldn't eat, except for freeze dried meal worms. They love them, they are spoiled and the worms are about $30,00 and lasts a week or so. Your article gives me other choices from my pantry that they can eat. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. It really helps us new chicken farmers.
      Jim&Dee and Susan Dye like this.
    1. bruceha2000
      They also like earwigs, Japanese Beetles, etc. Free food :D
  20. bruceha2000
    We had some leftover taboule that was getting old (back of the refrigerator) so I put it out for the 11.5 week old girls (didn't tell the older girls, they wouldn't have let the littles near it). They stood back for all the world looking like a crowd at a crime scene. Inching forward until FINALLY one got brave and pecked at it. Others got brave when the first went went back for more, then all seven beaks were in the container.
  21. LucyBW
    My chickens thought yogurt was weird at first, then they got to REALLY like it. They were stepping in it, it was all over their beaks and faces... it was hysterical, a big success all round!
  22. bruceha2000
    I'm pretty sure I posted on this a couple of years ago but:
    Meat and fat. ANY kind. Mine love bacon grease (no NOT hot out of the pan o_O ), they lick the container clean. And any fat or gristle (I cut gristle into pieces maybe 1/8") from the dinner plate.

    And the "no go" on the raw eggs? I don't know, I have a 5 Y/O Ancona who is laying thin shelled eggs. When I've found a broken egg in the nest I toss it and whatever shavings got egg on them into the run and the girls come scarf it down. I have NEVER had one of them turn into an "egg eater" that will intentionally break an egg in the nest, nor have I had one of Yue's eggs broken open and eaten in the nest.
      Susan Dye likes this.
  23. 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.
  24. Show Chicks
    My chickens will get in the house and eat the cat food!
      mseely and Marie Gilkey like this.
  25. Show Chicks
    My chickens will get in the house and eat the cat food!
      cndlou likes this.
  26. 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.
      Katie Scarlett likes this.
  27. 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.
  28. 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
  29. 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!
  30. 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!
  31. 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.
      cndlou likes 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. mohdhamza
    Once I also caught my hens feeding on styrofoam. Here we call it thermocol.
      cndlou likes this.
  36. Chickenrunlady
    Thank you for this list, it answered a lot of questions for me.
  37. 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
  38. 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.
  39. Flufferes
    My chickens despise carrots, but like eating the leaf part. Ugh, when they get in the garden they cause havoc....
  40. 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.
  41. tjogowin
    My girls favorites, they love yogurt, watermelon and Corn on the cob, I hang it and it gives them hours of entertainment.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
      cndlou, Susan Dye and nenebynature like this.
  44. bergmanchicken
    My Little's chicks love grape and lettuce blended in blender and mixed with scratch
      cndlou and nenebynature like this.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. Fluffers
    i can't stand it! Your chickens are SOOOO ADORABLE!!!
      southern yankee chick likes this.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.

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