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.
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  1. Buff Hooligans
    CHICKEN TREATS
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    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 https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/feedback-on-learning-center-treats-chart.21530/#post-188621
    At the bottom of the page are things you should avoid feeding your chickens.

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

    Also, greenbeans.
    Beets
    Greens also.

    .
    Berries
    All kinds

    A treat, especially strawberries.
    Breads
    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.
    Cucumbers

    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.
    Eggplant
    .

    .
    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.
    .
    Grapes
    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.
    GritsCooked

    "Leftovers"
    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.

    Mealworms
    (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
    Peas and pea tendrils and flowers (thanks to YayChick for the advice)

    .
    Peppers (bell)
    .

    .
    Pomegranates
    Raw

    Seeds are a big treat.
    Popcorn
    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.
    Raisins.
    Rice
    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.
    Tomatos
    Raw and cooked.
    Turnips
    Cooked.
    Not a huge favorite
    Watermelon
    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.

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    Yogurt's a favorite, and very good for their intestinal health.
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    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.

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    Here's BYC member Punkin's girls enjoying their first taste of yogurt in June 2008:

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    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.

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    Here's a Gold-Laced Wyandotte rooster belonging to BYC member "Addiedunn", leaping up for his favorite treat - a whole peanut:

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    Introducing odd treats can result in some very quizzical looks...

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    Here's a bowl of warm oatmeal, girls!

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    Warm oatmeal's even better after a big snowstorm:
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    Some leftover steamed rice with veggies:
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    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".)


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    Here’s why:
    Raw green potato peels
    Toxic substance called Solanine.
    Anything real saltyCan cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.
    Citrus
    .
    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:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/comprehensive-list-of-poisonous-plants-and-trees.627282/

    * 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 ...it 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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Comments

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  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. HolyCow
    Thank You, this is so helpful to me as we're just starting out, We've had our chickens about 5 months now. We got them as adults from someone who could no longer keep them and we just love them. We got some baby chicks 3 months ago and they have been a joy to watch grow.
  4. FowlmouthChick
    I did not see cauliflower on the treat list nor was it on the toxic list. Has anyone tried feeding cauliflower to their hens? My buff orp's are very picky girls. Nothing seemed to work as a treat until last night when I tried a tiny piece of raw cauliflower. They all went NUTS trying to get to it. It seems like it should be a healthy treat but I just want to make sure.
  5. Daloorashens
    Very helpful, Thanks!!
  6. MSchickenmama
    Great list-My girls are Meal Worms Whores-Wal-mart & from the wild brid feed section are the least expensive( ones label "chicken treat" are more costly). We feed all our farm animals warm oatmeal in the winter.
  7. mamaschnecke
    Awesome list. I am glad to have stumbled across it. Planning on printing it to have as a quick reference!
  8. Billy73
    Are dandelion greens safe for a treat? If so, at what age? Curious because i could pick enough to fill a room lol and my rabbit loves them.
  9. Chicks Galore3
    I will have to try applesauce! My chickies are still young so they don't like solid foods yet.
  10. Susancnw
    At what point can we start giving treats?
  11. ButchGood
    I have probably every toxic plant named on the toxic plant chart on my property. My chickens free range the entire area. I have not had one sick chick. I think chickens may taste this and that, but when it comes to eating toxic levels I doubt they will. Anything man made I'll keep away from them and out of reach, but Im not yanking out flowers, vegetables, and natural growing plants due to toxicity. So far they have figured it out. The treat list is full of ideas to experiment with your chickens. Yogart and mealies are there favorites.
  12. FowlmouthChick
    This site gets more and more helpful everyday! I'm so thrilled to have found the treat section since my chicks are getting ready to move into their new coop and I want to be able to lure them in and out with treats.
    This morning I tried a handful of cracked corn. The first chick closest to me went for it. I didn't even see chick number two as she took off from her roost and bonked me right in the head! Crazy girls!
    As for Areca Palms mentioned on the toxic page. Does anyone know just how toxic? My backyard is lined with Arecas and I'd hate to rip them all out. On the plus side, the chickens won't be free ranging without my supervision.
  13. Rock Home Isle
    Very nice...I liked the photos. Great list.
  14. ThreesACharm
    kellya126 -- moist & mushy grains are fine for chickens -- I feed it to our babies once they're a few weeks old, and to any chick who's having issues with eating :) even brewer's yeast is okay to feed to chickens. You just have to make sure that the grains aren't moldy, so feed it to them right away, because wet grain can moldy very fast -- sometimes by the next day!
    I usually mix some mushed-up bananas or strawberry pieces in with it for extra treats, kind of like chicken oatmeal. They love it :)
  15. Bill56
    Thanks for the info!!!!!
  16. tracylo09
    Thank you for all the info on feeding, my girls love grapes but it a fight to make sure everybody gets some. They also love meal worms I scatter them on their scratching area, they are gone in a flash. I am going to try them with yoghurt tomorrow as this seems to be a popular treat, can't wait to see their reaction.
  17. kellya126
    Here's a strange question, what about grains that have been steeped to make beer? We made a batch of beer today and rather than throwing the steeped grains in the compost, thought they looked like something the chicks might enjoy. They are not fermented, just steeped in water, no hops (heard that hops are lethal to dogs, so figured would not even consider it with the chicks), just the grains, and organic to boot. Grains are listed as treats, but curious about the steeped grains used for beer. Any ideas?
  18. jamesbwood
    Why not fresh raw fish?
  19. woodyrasa
    Thank you so much for the info.
    My coop is coming and the chickens shortly after
  20. donald main
    Wow a great page. Now I will know what treats to give them. I am new at this and BYC has been a great help so far. Best info on the net. THANKS
  21. ThreesACharm
    Our Jersey Giants are particularly fond of cat litter, especially right from the litterbox. Not sure how nutritious it is, though!
    Leftover corn-on-the-cob, bananas, stale bread and strawberries are HUGE hits with all of our birds (except the wyendottes, who are the pickiest birds I've ever met) -- our Rhode Island Reds will even take strawberries over earthworms & mealworms.
  22. ChickenCrazy8
    Thanks sooo much for this list it is super helpful :)
  23. americana-lover
    This helped me sooooooo much!
  24. MrsSerfesME
    This is excellent information as I have many people who have worked on chicken farms or think they know about chickens who have said you can feed chickens anything. While there is a pretty good list of things they can eat, it is good to know what they can't so that I can avoid given them those and also make sure that I don't know have things harmful to them planted in my gardens (or can keep them inaccessible to my chickens). Thank You!
  25. BeulahBreezes
    Thanks for the information!
  26. hermione123
    Very useful list! I appreciate the time you took to make this out for me a very big Thank you!
  27. 6chicksinatub
    "I gave up on my birds knowing what was best for them when I caught them all eating a block of Styrofoam pellets."
    Our chickens eat the Styrofoam out of our jacuzzi cover every chance they get.
  28. fmburson
    This is a fantastic and informative page, thank you so much for the work you did in creating this for all of us, especially a beginner like myself!
  29. happycamperkid
    Thanks for this I will keep this in my files for the rest of my chicken raising life! :p
  30. TabbyChickens
    are all of those treats okay to feed to chicks?
  31. bigbike4
    Hummmmm. . . there may yet be a reason for leaving that dirt floor room-a dirt floor-see I have a large amount of cave crickets in there and have often thought of concreting it over. ( I will eventually) , but if the chickens could catch and kill the darn things in the meantime. . . . .
  32. karhpern
    Thank you so much! being new to the chicken world this is VERY helpful!
    Looking forward to more posts and learning all I can!
  33. kilby
    At five months they are almost ready to lay. Your choice. One thing to note my nine month old comets still love their chick scratch. More so than hen scratch even. I tested with smaller bags. The hen scratch they did not go for too early in life so I think your vet is right.
    Scratch helps them be active. Popcorn at that age I think is dangerous. Mine had one stuck in her beak and If I wasn't there I don't know what. Supervise!!! They have learnt to break it up and they are stronger now so I don't worry.
  34. see0508
    When do I begin introducing these treats and other chicken scratch, etc? I have 2 Australorps that are about 5 months old. I have been following the Feed Store's advice and giving them only chick scratch until they begin laying eggs. Is this right?
  35. Bambi bird
    i am feeding my "rainbow" (a silki, a red shaver, a polish and a half orpington) of chickens crushed maze, is this correct?
  36. redrooster78
    this is great info,thank you
  37. Chicken Lover 1
    Love this page thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  38. alexandherpets
    i offered my silkie chicken a fresh strawberry yesterday and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. With just one little peck she was done with strawberries, lol. what a silly chickie!
  39. ALRwild
    This is a great list! Your chickens look nice and healthy! :)
  40. TeenChickNQueen
    VERY helpful because I have picky chicks.....just like their parents(prabably cause their spoiled).........they like herbs and Iwas wondering if they can eat green onions
  41. simplegirl1970
    This is very helpful! Just what I've been looking for. I can't wait to give the girls some yogurt.
  42. krys2000
    This is the most useful thing I have found on your site! I refer to it almost EVERY DAY! It has saved me from feeding the wrong thing to my girls! BYC ROCKS!
  43. allygb99
    thanks a bunch! i had no idea i shouldnt hae been feeding avocado to my chickes.i will STOP! i wish i would have know chickens like oatmeal, i had some extra yesterday.and yogurt, thanks again
  44. heddahawaii
    Thank you for the advice! I also have aquarium fish and I was smiling when reading how to introduce new members to the flock (after quarantine!!!) because many of the tricks mentioned also work for fish! I would also like to know why citrus is bad. We are in Hawaii and I have an abundance of all kinds of citrus and I was hoping to be able to supplement my chicken’s diet with all things from the garden. I also used to raise parrots and avocados were a big no no for them. But I see there is conflicting info on the flesh (no pits or skin is ok) but again, with so many avo trees; I was hoping they could enjoy them too! I'm new to BYC and it is great!
  45. dixiem
    thanks for the info, so far our little one's love meal worms and yogurt. The oldest one who is 9mos old will eat applesauce. I put wheat germ on the yogurt also, they love it. So far they are not interested in any veggies, or anything else. But I will keep introducing it. I am for sure going to try the ear of corn in the pen, that should be fun and interesting.
  46. Jobele
    I like to get a fresh ear of corn and hang it from the wire on top of their pen.....they are definitely occupied on days when they can't go out into the pasture and they love the fresh corn. Funny to watch too!
  47. Mpracey
    a couple of more toxic foods - the vet told me to stay away from Parsley & avocado both are toxic to chickens.
  48. thebeckster
    This is great! My office building has recently been adopted by a pair of roosters and I was wondering what to feed them, but more importantly, what NOT to feed them :)
  49. iluvsedward
    44Wolves,
    Citrus is bad for many animals because it gives them diariah.
  50. 44Wolves
    Why is Citrus bad? There is only a period in the reason. xD

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