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

    Share This Article


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. Wishapup
    Thank you, very informative, and some creative ideas! Might consider birdseed.
  2. sophyluvssilkie
    thank you for the help
  3. chikkenfriend
    I'm a rookie. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanx!
  4. 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??
  5. Beulah89
    Oh but why can't they have citrus?
  6. Beulah89
    Well this will explain why they weren't interested in the mandarin and raw bean lunch I gave them!
  7. 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 big plus I found is that the worms like to eat chicken pellet or crumble 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!
      cndlou and olepackrat like this.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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.
  12. 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??
  13. lillydaisy
    Great list going out to try the yogurt :D
  14. 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.
  15. 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!
  16. 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)
  17. chicksak
    great information, thank you!
  18. pizza101
    What a great link for someone like me that's just starting out with chickens! Thanks so much!
  19. OldFarmGirl68
    They say the citrus is bad for the hens eggs. It causes them to be thin and brittle, that's what I've read.
  20. Nutcase
    Wow, the pictures are superb!
  21. LittleBits
    Just found this list! I was wondering why they didn't like potato peelings and I've just started throwing them back on the garden compost since they don't eat them anyway. Also had posted a question elsewhere about feeding raw beans - like pinto beans - for added protein - now I know. Thanks! I'll be reading this more thoroughly later.
  22. mrealm
    Thanks for the list and info!
  23. Kourtnie
    Great article! Thanks for the very useful info...I reference this page often!
  24. ChickenLover200
    mine love bread :D i never heard of chick weed....
  25. Tlawler
    We have an invasive weed know as "chickweed" on the farm. Duiring the winter and late spring, every day the chickens -- 10 barred rock hens -- get cut up pieces of white bread and picked chickweed. They go nuts over the bread, but the chickweed is eaten every day. When the garden kicks in in summer, they'll get zuchinni, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and "other stuff"

    They also really like rice, grapes, and, well, a lot of other stuff.
  26. ChickenLover200
    what about carrots? like baby carrots i give them to my hens all the time but i don't know if they provide some nutrition or not....
      Freisian likes this.
  27. Tlawler
    We have chickweed growing like ... er ... a weed on our farm, and each afternoorn when I collect eggs they get a little bit of "cheap" white bread (their favorites) and some chickweed (they aren't free range, as we only have 10 hens, and we have off leash neighborhood dogs, foxes, and other predators). They also get some vegetable table scraps, and in the middle/late summer they get scraps from our garden -- tomatoes, various types of squash, etc. Later in the summer when I harvest the seeds from the approximately 600-700 sunflowsers we grow, they get those (shared with our horses)
      Freisian likes this.
  28. Tlawler
    I meant, of course, harvest, not replace the eggs. This May, we are on average getting about 9 eggs a day.
  29. Tlawler
    Aside from Purina Layeena Crumble in the morning, our ten barred rock hens get treats every afternoon when I give them new water and replace the eggs. The treats depend on the time of year. We have tons of chickweed growing on the farm, so currently they get chickweed and pieces of the cheapest white bread I can find (e.g., the 78 cents a loaf at Walmart). When we move later into summer, they get lettuce beyond what we can eat, tomatoes beyond whqt we can eat, squash beyond what we can eat, etc. (we have four different garden plots). When it's later in the summer, they also get sunflower seeds from the approximately 600 sunflowers we plant every year. (Just because they are pretty).
    We've only had the 10 barred rock hens since last march, but they great layers, and are most friendly. They love morning breakfast, and go no nuts over the afternoon "treat" time. I really wish I could let them free range, but we have multiple off leash dogs from neighbors that visit every day, as well as fox and raccoons. They do have an outdoor run that I built that is about 12 feet by four feet, and they have a great chicken coop that indoors is about six feet by five feet, but I'd love to let them free range, but have of them would be eaten in a week.
      Freisian likes this.
  30. Chicken Goddess
    I feed my chickens crickets, mealworms and pasta. OMG!! chickens love pasta, they scruff on it especially sphagetti ones. they think its a worm.
  31. chickery-do
    I also serve them pineapples, oranges and all sorts of fruits and veggies that they seem to love. What out when you feed them your leftover coleslaw! Especially when it's nice and wet!!!
  32. chickery-do
    My girls go crazy for the heart of the green pepper ( especially the red pepper) and the fleshy inside! I hold onto the top and let them peck at it.
  33. 859007
    thanks for the information
  34. emnicole514
    my chickens go NUTS for banannas and lettuce. they get ample time tof ree range but for some reason in their opinions lettuce is much better than what they have to usually munch on. they dont LOVE the mealworms, but do LOVE slugs and termites.
  35. DuccleLover101
    Awesome! My chickens LOVE blueberries.
  36. tlcnubians
    Our chickens will eat just about anything we put out for them. Goat milk is a favorite treat, especially when it starts separating.
  37. LittleHens
    Thanks for the interesting info!!!
    Oh BTW the golden hens are BEAUTIFUL!!!
  38. BirdMan32
    Thank you!!
  39. Janay
    Wow, this chart is sooooo helpful! Thank you so much!! I am going to print it out and hang on to it. :) I'm also new to BYC and also new to chickens! So I'm trying to learn as much as I can.
  40. saintdeer
    i tie bagels to a string and hang it in the coop...they go crazy every time!
  41. HomesteadDebi
    Great chart! Thank you so much :)
  42. Chikyn
    It is absolutley hilarious to watch the chickens eat my cream cheese and see them smacking with these 'beards'
  43. MrsWolfe
    Thank you for your knowledge and resorces. Being a newby I am always looking to find enough information as I can so I can raise healthy and happy chicks.
  44. redneck farmer
    very nice thank u
  45. lorililly
    what about cinnamon ?
    chickens love blueberries so much i don't even now what the word for it is!
  47. willowbranchfarm
  48. animallover505
    My hens LOVE citrus! Why can't they have it??
  49. Nutcase
    Great page guys
  50. ComfortChickens
    This is a very informative and helpful list! Thank you for sharing it!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by