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. LazerClaire
    My chickens LOVE coconut! I make my own coconut milk from coconut flakes & so I have a ton of leftover flakes. I dry them in the sun or oven & mix some in with their food daily or let them eat some from my hand to win their love. They like it as much as they like mealworms!
  2. itsthelaw37801
    The mealworms are like getting them hooked on drugs. My husband and I actually call the mealworms "crack". I can shake the container and they all come running like we are best friends.
  3. California_chickie
    This is a great article!
  4. clucky3255
  5. clucky3255
    i will keep away from citris too!
  6. clucky3255
    THe page is very informative and fun!!! thank you for the page! i loved it! and tommorow i am going to treat my chickens and ducks to a tasty treat!! thanks to anyone who helped make BYC possible!
  7. CountryGeorge
    I figure to a chicken there are but two classes of things in the world, things that eat chickens and things put there for chickens to eat. If it don't eat them they will try to eat it!
  8. Chickenhill
    Who needs a dog to help with leftovers...Chicken power! Love to watch the looks and the circling when new foods are offered. Quite entertaining.
  9. Shelby12
    I love learning something new everyday, an all the articles on byc is so informatial:) Thank you.
  10. love my animals
    Thanks for all this info.!
  11. NoZolbitty
    With chocolate , its a naturaly occuring chemical that causes the trouble. many birds cannaot handle it.
  12. Troy6671
    Thanks for the information. I will be offering my girls some new things to eat!
  13. dlbickar
    I read on the net somewhere , to give your chickens cat food because it is high in protein... I also feed my barn ca in the barn where the girls have access, and my girls will get up on his feeding platform and help themselves, I had been giving them wet cat food at night... They love it .. I. guess you shouldn't take everyones advice on the net... I think it was an old farmer that suggested cat food for added protein especially during moult... So this is bad for them?
  14. animallover505
    thanks for the info!
  15. teckelhut
    I have to laugh at treats and how smart chickens are. I was doing some digging and found a small worm so I said "Who wants a worm?" and held it out in my hand until one curious hen came over and grabbed it. Well the word got out. The next time I found a worm, I got out nothing further than "Who wants a..." and I was up to my knees in chickens.
  16. dusky
    :( :( :( My chickens LOVE eating styrofoam, crazy birds! I always yell at my dad when he leaves containers out.. I gave them a banana once and they looked really shocked when they took a bite. lol Must've tasted very weird to them.
  17. chickenlovex3
    my chickens love eating corn. we always give our leftover corn to our 3 chickens. (corn can also be used to play fetch!)
  18. 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 :)
  19. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, Buff Hooligans! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
  20. csargent27
    our chickens love strawberries, cherries, cucumbers, corn, watermelon, pasta, tomatoes and some other things as well
  21. emberspapa
    Thank you for sharing....this is information I needed to know.
  22. jkraze
    I've been feeding my girls mangoes for months now, and they love them! I have not had any problems at all.
  23. 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.
  24. KritterKeeper
    Very informative. Thank you!
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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!
  28. 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.
  29. 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!
  30. ariconnie48
    Very helpfull list.
  31. 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!
  32. 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!
  33. 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??
  34. questions543
    my girls HATE yogurt :p
  35. FarmerCyndi
    Anyone know if there's any harm in giving them kiwi fruit?
  36. michelleml
    at what age can they start eating treats?
  37. 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.
  38. jamescarroll001
    how can i get this in a smaller printable version?
  39. UnderHisWings
    Does the same go for chicks? I mean, do they like the same things adults like?
  40. 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.
  41. AnnaerbR
    Ty SOOOOO Much this amazignly helped
  42. Krissy12052
    Thank you for sharing this!! :D
  43. 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.
  44. 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
  45. 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?
  46. LazoRanchPeeps
    Great Info on this page:) TY
  47. 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!
  48. bucksbiddies
    Thank You for the chart it is most helpful
  49. 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!
  50. 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.

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