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. PurplePoppiPpl
    would i be able to give my chickens suet cakes/dough that is for wild birds?
  2. rocketmail
    Is it good to give them choclate flavored yogurt?
  4. givemewings310
    is there a printable available for these charts? I don't know how to use different Office programs to make my own, and copying and pasting isn't working too well... I would LOVE to print this as a reminder to post in my kitchen and next to the coop!!
  5. gypsy5583
    Is it ok to feed them egg shells?
    Very helpful. Thanks!
  7. love2carve
    I read on a chicken blog or in a chicken magazine a while back where one person fed crickets purchased from a pet store and her chickens got tape worms from them. I don't think its worth the risk!
  8. alaskamom
    My chickens LOVE cucumbers, warm oatmeal (we live in Alaska) and watermelon. They arent huge on lettuce or kale...maybe in a few months when they havent seen grass in a while! ;)
  9. LittleRedCoop53
    Super helpful....thanks~
  10. TriangleMaster9
    I tried feeding my girls some asian pears, oh my gosh they absolutely went nuts! They love those things, although you gotta get them in small peices otherwise they can't get them in their mouths!
  11. ilikehorses2
  12. JSW99
    Thank you! Now I will know what's safe to feed my friends!
  13. beccybumbles
    My 2 girls are obsessed with red seedless grapes, the grapes have been a god send when taming them! (or trying to!) now as a treat and to help keep them entertained, i hide the around the coop, under a rock pile etc.
    this chart is the best i have seen so far thanks :) x
  14. akangel1955
    I live in Alaska and it can get to 30 below here. I feed my girls warm oatmeal, cornmeal mush and prepared baby cereal. They love eating something warm. Some times I make cornbread and pour warm milk over it. They love all dairy products, cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, milk. I also give them sunflower seeds and hang suet for them in the winter. I either make my own suet blocks or buy the ones for birds when they go on sale at the end of winter and store them in the freezer. I love this website. Thank you so much for the info. :)
  15. din0nut
    part 2
    Many feeds have citric acid as a preservative.
    Here is an interesting little blurb I found:
    2. Citric acid can increase feed intake and daily gain, improve feed utilization, and enhance resistance to disease. Such as high-temperature season, in broiler diets to add citric acid, can improve Chicken's feed intake, feed utilization and daily gain; Citric acid can promote red blood cell C3b receptor on the synthesis, while the red blood cell C3b receptors exert immune function an important material foundation; Citric acid in the animal body is oxidized into carbon dioxide and bicarbonate, as a blood buffer to maintain the stability of blood PH value; In addition, citric acid is the antioxidant synergist.
    FYI--I give my flock citrus, but not terribly often. I have also been to a number of poultry shows where the birds were given halves of grapefruits to peck at.
    So: your rule is not true, but good luck getting your chickens to eat your orange tree's overflow!
      blackandtan likes this.
  16. din0nut
    so i asked my pet chicken about citrus and received this answer: part 1
    Thank you for contacting My Pet Chicken.
    A little bit of citrus won't hurt your birds, as with everything else: all things in moderation.
    Too much of any fruit can result in slowed laying, as many fruits contain low-levels of estrogen-like chemicals, which in turn start acting like a form of birth control. Some folks believe too much citrus can cause feather pecking due to increased levels of vitamin C (I have never seen any scientific proof in this, but I guess this is an issue with exotic birds)...others say it can interfere with Calcium absorption (no proof on this either).
      blackandtan likes this.
  17. 5chickenkid
    The mealwoms are hilareous!
  18. Peepsicle
    is it okay if I copy some of your info? I'm trying to put together a binder of some of the things that I know about chickens, and this is perfect. PLEASE??
  19. Peepsicle
    is it ok if i copy some of your info? I'm trying to put together a binder of some info about chickens, and this is perfect! PLEASE??!!
  20. beccybumbles
    WOW thanks, this page is fab to us new-be's chicken lovers :)
  21. TherryChicken
    VERY helpful! Thank you!
  22. TammyTootles
    great list =] I had trouble loading the link to toxic plants....anybody have another link to that list?
  23. honeyb
    i just gave mine a hole avocado cut in half. they only eat the flesh and theyre fine but i didnt know, i wouldnt risk it in the again .
  24. honeyb
    i read that they like parsley?
  25. honeyb
    whats wrong with banana peels?
  26. pennychaney89
    Really helpful :)
  27. helenshens
    My chickens go crazy for styrofoam too. I try to keep it away from them, but found a styro cooler in the garage missing a huge hole from the corner. What do you suppose happens to it - just passes on through?
  28. 5chickenkid
    They can like dandeilion greens.
  29. Tlawler
    I meant our barred rock hens, though our neighbors are friendly as well (or they wouldn't get any eggs!)
  30. Tlawler
    This list was incredibly useful. We had a summer garden as well as a large field (about 600) of sunflowers, and knowing what "the girls" can/should and cannot/should not eat was most helpful. While our tomato crop was seriously hurt by critter damage, that just meant more for the girls! Out ten barred rock hens, which we got from Tractor Supply on March 2nd, 2012, are laying on average about eight eggs a day, a sufficient number to meet the egg needs of my wife and I and all of our close-friend neighbors. It's pretty kewl. And they are so friendly!
  31. goodmorninglove
    I'm a bit confused. The list above says that cabbage and kale can be given as treats but the link to toxic plants says that they are toxic. Are they safe or are they toxic?
  32. Ellochicken
    Thank You for the very useful important info! My chickens will love you! Thanks for posting!
  33. Gabriellea
    extremely helpful page..Thank you!!
  34. peepsbwithu
    great list. Can they have a bit of green onion mixed in with something else?
  35. JayBaby
    I will definately print this page! Thanks for all the good information!
  36. Hot wing gal
    Thank you so much for this list. I am new to having chickens and I find this site to be very helpful.
  37. RulerOfTheSkies
    I took the pop corn machine outside and popped some corn. My girls went nuts going after the popcorn!
  38. itsthelaw37801
    Since reading this article, I have gotten seedless grapes, cut them into fours, and given them as a treat. They went crazy for them. Must be the juice and the smell. Today, I took tomatoes, cut them up into pieces, and I thought they were going to kill each other over them. We have a watermelon in the floor. May give it a couple of days and see which one wins: grapes, tomatoes or watermelon.
  39. jimandscott
    my girls just go mad for meal worms. i am sure i could train them with mealworms!! (although they are a bit stupid) i am going to get some crickets for my granchildren to give them. that sounds like an absoloot hoot.
    they havent touched brocoly so going to sprout some beans and pulses with the kids to see if fresher stuff will attract them. yogurt is getting a try today. brill article lots of ideas . and will stay away from citrus and cat food. thanks al lot of fun to follow
  40. PurplePoppiPpl
    how old do chickens need to be before they eat corn kernels?
  41. PurplePoppiPpl
    can chickens eat corn kernels whole??
  42. ChickInDelight
    I have also been feeding flax seeds. Please clarify whether it is safe or not.
  43. ChickInDelight
    My kids insist that feeding chicken to chickens is forced canabolism and illegal.
  44. Mendel
    my chickens are like garbage disposals!!!!!
  45. jimandscott
    fantastic info. mealworms are so funny . they run from the other side of the garden tripping over each other to get to them... and they make it so easy to get them back to the saftey of the pen if im going out. we get a lot of foxes round here as we back onto a country park, so if im not around they need the security of the pen,
    again great info, will try more interesting thing for there pen to keep them more entertained.
  46. GuineasGirl
    Thank you so much! I've been wondering what type of table scraps I could give them to add some variety to their diet.
  47. Reurra
  48. jchny2000
    This is fantastic! I am planning ahead for the winter months, so its great knowing whats safe for them well ahead of time.
  49. Our Roost
    Because we are surrounded by the Northern woods in Michigan, forest ferns are at a premium. Both our chickens and 2 ducks seem to enjoy eating the stripped leaves off of them. I have yet to investigate whether these may contain natural toxins harmful to the poultry. The deer in the area eat them all the time which is what drove me to try them as a green for the birds. Any horticulturalists out there with information?
  50. SOchic4
    i got lost on the cat food part, ive fed our chickens can cat food probably ever other couple days because i didnt know any better, so should i completely quit giving it to them or its ok for every once in a while? thanks im a beginner

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