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. bergmanchicken
    My Little's chicks love grape and lettuce blended in blender and mixed with scratch
      cndlou and nenebynature like this.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Fluffers
    i can't stand it! Your chickens are SOOOO ADORABLE!!!
      southern yankee chick likes this.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. twinsmom6
    thank you for the details.. really feel like these chickens are more than just egg layers.. and want them to stay well.
  9. rtj18175
    I just picked off, thinned my apple tree, about one inch size. Can they be fed to chickens ?
  10. Black Beauties
    reviewed once again
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Vbrown71
    Thank you for Posting very helpful
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. Black Beauties
    thanks for this great advice!! Mine love persian melon they tear into it demolish in no time 15 young hen black Astralorps
  17. 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.
  18. Black Beauties
    thank you this helps I have some cooked fish and frozen peas I want to feed them
  19. 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.
  20. Birdlover 13
    Great info, thanks a lot!!!
  21. 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.
  22. chickenychicken
    Thanks for the info!!!
    They do love yogort so much, funny to watch them eat it with yogort all over their beeks!
  23. 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!
  24. amelia123
    Thank you!!
  25. countrydreamer8
    what about 4 day old chicks? what can I give them for a treat?
  26. happyowner
    I love this article. Thank you. Alot of helpful information. I like options for the winter months.
  27. ChicksN Coffee
    Thanks for Sharing,
  28. WinterChicks
    Whats wrong with citrus?
  29. Lizard King
    Awesome Page, It Gave Me Some Very Good Guideline For When I Get Chickens In The Near Future!
  30. 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...
  31. ChickyChickens
    Nice page, I have always been wanting to know what TO FEED MY CHICKENS AS TREATS!!
  32. 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
  33. DairyChickenGal
    Thank you for making this! How come you can't give chickens any sort of cirtus?
  34. ezekiel5
    very helpful thanks
  35. arkansas55
    awesome advice,thank you so much,oh boy i'm going to give them some yogurt tomorrow!
  36. jaseyboy1986
    My chickens love strawberries, pears and dandelion leaves.
      cndlou likes this.
  37. 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!!
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. lillieegg
    Awesome chart! Thanks!
  41. Braxton1
    thank you! I printed and saved this page!
  42. teneyck farms
    i always wonderd
    now i know
  43. Wood Lily
    I hang a cabbage in the pen and they spend hours playing "cabbage ball"
  44. 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.
  45. 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!
  46. Aronia
    Eggs and Yogurt.
  47. ANG2010
    love this post. we refer to it every few days.
  48. Stumpy
    Great information and lovely photos!
  49. 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.
  50. 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.

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