Why not spoil them?


Apr 13, 2016
North-Central IL
Before balanced commercial feed was available or before people could afford it, sure. But now we have complete feed, so anything other is considered a treat. I'm betting chickens live longer these days on the whole too, partly because of the good feed available, and partly because Mom doesn't go out every Sunday and wring a neck for dinner, lol.


Apr 18, 2018
Upstate SC
My neighbor and I can't get either of our flocks to eat scratch--it would sit for days on the ground if we let it. So strange to hear it called a treat (even on the bag, it says "no more than 10% of total diet should be scratch"). I'd love to know what goes on in their fowl little minds. LOL

OhZark Biddies

Free Ranging
Apr 13, 2018
Sittin on a rock
My Coop
My Coop
Keep in mind that sOme folks keep chickens as pets, and want to see them live forever...

others keep them as livestock and have their end of life planned out based on diminishing productivity...

...and many folks do something in between.

My advice would just be To take in the info on nutrition of feeds and treats, apply that to your real world experience, adjust as needed, and do what makes the most sense to you, and let everybody else do what makes the most sense to them!

OhZark Biddies

Free Ranging
Apr 13, 2018
Sittin on a rock
My Coop
My Coop
...can't get either of our flocks to eat scratch.... So strange to hear it called a treat...
So far my young flock (14 weeks) is confined to our enclosed coop and run, for their own safety.... so scratch is very much a treat to them.

But when I was a kid I recall our free ranging chooks would turn their beaks up at scratch in the summer, when they had bugs and green stuff, come winter though they loved them some cracked corn!

Dona Worry

Jul 5, 2018
Mine have their food in their feeders free-choice, and a couple of times a day they get scratch sprinkled in their yard to give them something to do.

When they were free ranging, they did not eat nearly as much of their feed, so their 'treat', ie reward for coming when called, was their grain sprinkled on the ground, and a tiny, tiny bit of scratch with it.
On hot days, they get some frozen fruit/veggies or watermelon chunks as a treat, given to them in the shade.
Since my cockeral has been injured, I have been making a mash out of their grain, and mixing some liquid vitamins and yogurt into it. Really only the boy needs it, but he want to be with his flock, so everyone gets it and no harm done.
Non-ration treats easily make up less than 5% of their diet, but they seem to be quite content anyways.


7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
I find it odd how 'treat' here seems to mean anything except commercial feed. Before corporations got in on the act, weren't most of the so called treats mentioned above considered to be chicken feed...?
No, most of the food that chickens ate was grain and other things that they picken out of Cow, Horse, Mule, Hog, and Dog droppings. They also liked to forage under the little house out back of the big house, or IOWs the house that had the crescent moon shape cut out of the front door.

I also doubt that the chickens back in those days read the pages torn out of the Sears & Roebuck Catalog that they also found laying under this little house.


Oct 12, 2017
High Desert, S. CA.
Well, I feel better, because my "treats" are usually something healthy like veggies, fruit, scrambled eggs, a little cat food, yogurt, mealworms. I mix it all up together. But I also give them little bits of pasta, a small amount of scratch and sometimes rice or something left over from my dinner the night before. I also sometimes soak cereal in milk until it's mushy, but they don't get a large amount. I have not offered them bread. I get those new frozen veggies that are mixed with healthy foods in the pouch (can't remember the name of it now) and include that in what I call their "brunch." They get breakfast that is just wet or fermented crumbles, and dinner, and the brunch is where they get the extras. So, while the "extras" are definitely more than 10% of their diet, they are still eating a pretty decent amount of the crumble morning and night. A total of maybe a little less than a cup a day for 1 hen and 4 pullets. Thank you all for your input!


Mar 11, 2018
I feed what is in front of me. By this I mean all my animals are individual. I try to stay away from processed foods. The dogs are all on the slim but healthy size, I have 3 with hip dysplasia, the weight has to stay good or it can cause problems. They haven't eaten store bought treats in years. I dehydrate treats on occasion, otherwise they get gullets, tracheas, and in the summer quite a bit of fruits and veggies. All of my animals get Spirulina, bee pollen and garlic. The chickens and ducks get cilantro, parsley, peas, blueberries. Grapes and watermelon are super treats. I now pull weeds for them and they think it's a treat but it's not anything they would not eat daily free ranging anyway. They are all healthy.

IMO it's not about treats, it's about healthy treats.


In the middle
Premium member
6 Years
Apr 9, 2013
My Coop
My Coop
I treat my chickens every day. They love fruits, veggies, different scratch grain mixes, meat and mealworms.

They wouldn't eat just mush if they were wild, I'm not going to feed em just mush. They work hard to give me eggs, shouldn't I put in a little effort to make sure they're happy? After all, I'm the one who decided to keep them.


Crossing the Road
Premium member
May 27, 2015
There is the issue of diluting the nutrition needed for optimum egg production. My chickens don't care if they lay less eggs, but I certainly do. They only get scratch or other foods in the late afternoon when most of their feed is gone. And after that, they usually get to free range about 2 hours every evening. Foraging for their own 'treats' is their greatest pleasure.
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