Wild bird food for hens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by girlsat1435, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. girlsat1435

    girlsat1435 New Egg

    Feb 9, 2012
    I'm very new with raising backyard hens. Is it safe to give them wild bird seed as a treat? I've read that the sunflower seeds are good, but what about millet?
  2. HandLoad

    HandLoad Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2012
    I am interested in this also. Other issues are interesting also - like: If I let the Chickens run, and they get into the dropped seeds/"Droppings" of wild birds, can I expect any Chickens to survive? Would there be any Danger to eat the Eggs of the Chickens?

    We Love Feeding Wild Birds and Squirrels - Must we give that up to have Chickens?
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    As a treat fine, not as a complete diet.
  4. junglebird

    junglebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I use a wild bird seed that contains mostly millet and black sunflower seed in my grain mix. I mix it with oats, corn, and wheat. My flock also free ranges, and gets some greens and meat.
    1 person likes this.
  5. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    To both Handload and girlsat1435,

    First off and foremost [​IMG][​IMG] its a fun place to be thats all there is to it.

    They make a block with maple with all the sunflower and birdseed mix and the block foods they are a treat but they will not do at all for a healthy well balanced meal for new chix growing or juveniles growing or egg layer feed. You need to remember as babies they have baby stomachs and need to be fed like babies. Chopped and almost prepared foods. Remember that babies have food processed foods like carrot, pea's, and other veggies whipped or pureed up well that what Im saying baby food to start them right. Then to get medicated chicken feed for young chickens you will feed them until week 25 and then you will switch to another feed. During this time you will have the opportunity to feed them any on this list. So best of luck and welcome to the BYC.

    Food Treat Chart From the BYC


    General Opinions

    Raw and applesauce

    Apple seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient quantities to kill.


    Raw or cooked

    Okay to feed, but not a favorite.

    Without the peel

    High in potassium, a good treat.

    Well-cooked only, never dry

    Also, green beans.

    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.

    Raw and cooked

    They like carrot foliage too.
    Cat food * (see bottom of page)

    Wet and dry

    Feed in strict moderation, perhaps only during molting * (see bottom of page)

    Cheerios, etc.

    Avoid highly sugared cereal such as Cocopuffs, etc.

    Including cottage cheese

    Feed 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 wrong.

    On 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.

    Hard cooked 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.


    Make sure they haven't been treated with pesticides, such as florist flowers might be.

    Marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, etc.

    Pears, peaches, cherries, apples


    Bulgur, flax, Niger, wheat berries, etc.


    Seedless only.
    For chicks, cutting them in half makes it easier for them to swallow.

    Great fun - the cause of many entertaining "chicken keep-a-way" 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

    Cantaloupe, etc.

    Both seeds and flesh are good chicken treats.

    Raw or cooked

    Cooked is nutritionally better.
    Pasta / Macaroni

    Cooked spaghetti, etc.

    A favorite treat, fun to watch them eat it, but not much nutrition.

    Peas and pea tendrils and flowers

    Peppers (bell)




    Seeds are a big treat.

    Popped, no butter, no salt.

    Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes/Yams

    Cooked only - avoid green parts of peels!

    Starchy, not much nutrition
    Pumpkins / Winter Squash

    Raw or cooked

    Both seeds and flesh are a nutritious treat.



    Cooked only

    Pilaf mixes are okay too, plain white rice has little nutrition.

    Scratch 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.

    Wheat and oat sprouts are great!

    Good for greens in mid-winter.
    Summer Squash

    Yellow 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.

    Plain or flavored

    A big favorite and good for their digestive systems. Plain is better.
    The most favorite chicken treat of all – mealworms
  6. Hansen4211

    Hansen4211 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a copy of this list but I was wondering if I could feed my chicks any of these treats yet. They are 2 weeks old and seem really bored.
  7. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    At 2 wks mine loved little bits of fruit or cooked bits of noodles. You could spoon feed them some baby food...favorites were sweet potato or corn casserole. I've even given them uncooked oatmeal. They also loved when I cut grass up in small pieces. Make sure they have grit, dirt or sand available.
  8. junglebird

    junglebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've got 5 chicks that were just hatched by a hen 3 days ago. I'm following a Hawaiian Natural Farming feeding protocol for them: brown rice grains (uncooked and lightly ground), scrambled egg and chopped bamboo leaves. This diet is said to promote healthy gut growth, upon which so much of good health rests. So far so good - mama and chicks seem to love the food, and there's not a bit of pasty butt.

    My last 2 hen hatched/raised batches of chicks last year were great learning experiences. The mama hens taught me how to feed the babies: basically, they eat whatever she eats. Three day old chicks can eat whole grains within a few days - I know, I see them do it. I find these chicks are much more robust, and are better foragers than the chicks I raised on starter feed.
  9. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    All my chickens demand I open the bird seed bin every morning. They eat regular chicken feed but I do give them bird seed, scratch and leftovers too. They're all healthy and happy.
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    My chickens especially LOVE millet. I mix millet in with my scratch. They seem to pick it out first and than go to the corn.. leaving the oats and barley (?) for the end.

    Not as a complete diet for sure, but yes, they can eat it no problem.

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