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5 Ways to Feed Chickens for Free

Want to know what to feed chickens for FREE? There are many free chicken feed ideas to supplement your feed bill. You just need to get creative!

Most people get backyard chickens so they can save money on eggs and meat. Then they quickly realize that it costs more money to feed chickens than you save at the grocery store on chicken products. It doesn’t need to be this way, there are many ways to supplement your chicken feed and feed chickens for free, you just need to get creative!

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Chickens eating greens out of half of a pumpkin.

5 Ways to Feed Chickens for Free

1. Free-Range your Chickens

Letting your flock out to free-range is the number one way to cut down on feed costs. Chickens are hard-wired to search for their own food outside. They’ll pick at grasses and weeds, dig for worms, and even hunt down larger prey like mice and lizards.

Free-ranging is very easy on you, all you have to do is open the door and let them go wild. The chickens will do all the hard work. Best of all it’s a completely free way to feed your chickens. And your flock will help to keep the pest and weed level down in your yard. It’s a great way to put your chickens to work!

Chickens walking out the open door of a coop.

2. Feed Kitchen Scraps

Wilted lettuce, mushy berries, stale bread, unappetizing leftovers… don’t let this food make its way to the trash can! Feed it to your chickens as a snack. Giving your flock the weekly kitchen scraps can put a big dent in your chicken feed costs.

Your flock should be getting a wide variety of food to ensure good health. Most fruits and veggies will be appreciated by your flock, and go a long way towards your effort to feed chickens for free. Meat scraps are also perfectly fine for chickens, and a good source of protein if they can’t find insects to eat.

Lastly, plain yogurt is a great treat for chickens, and as a bonus, it helps even out the bacteria in their guts, making it easier to digest food. Be sure the kitchen scraps headed to the coop include only whole and nutritious foods, chickens don’t need junk food!

Check out these 100 Foods Chickens Can Eat

A bucket full of kitchen scraps.

3. Grow a Chicken Garden

There are tons of easy to grow plants that are beloved by chickens. Consider growing a chicken garden to feed your chickens for free. Chickens especially love these garden treats, and they’re easy to grow as well!

  • Pumpkins/Squash very well loved by chickens and very nutritious
  • Leafy greens– lettuce, kale, mustard, and arugula are easy to grow
  • Tomatoes– Grape tomatoes are fun, toss them in the coop and watch your chickens play keep away!
  • Sunflowers– These are easy to grow and you can chop off the whole flower head and toss it into the coop
  • Perennial PlantsPlant these perennials once and they’ll feed your flock year after year.

4. Feed your Chickens Weeds!

Most of the weeds in your yard are very well liked by chickens. If you don’t want to let them out to free-range in your space, you can at least pick some treats for them in your own backyard!

The following weeds are well loved by chickens:

  • Plantain
  • Dandelion- leaves and flowers
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Lambsquarters
  • Chicory

Discover more weeds that chickens love to eat!


5. Utilize Grocery Stores, Restaurants and Bakeries

Making a simple phone call to the local bakery or a favorite restaurant can save you tons of money in chicken food. Thousands of pounds of food are thrown away weekly, simply because it’s a little mushy, bruised, or stale.

A lot of times food is thrown away simply because it’s one day past the expiration date, still fine to eat but not fine to sell. These foods may not be sellable to patrons, but your chickens will love it. Many stores and restaurants are glad to give away food that would go to the trash. A simple phone call can reap huge rewards for your flock. 

Getting permission first will not only keep you out of trouble, but grocers are often willing to set aside food for you if you simply ask. They get the pleasure of knowing the food isn’t going to waste, and you get to feed chickens for free, win-win!

A basket full of bread.

We hope these 5 ideas of what to feed your chickens for free will help you to cut down on food costs!

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these, we love to chat chickens!

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Chris B

Monday 23rd of August 2021

I live next to the community green belt so I bought a cheap push mower. Now my hens have fresh green grass clippings every day. City parks, and public school yards make for great sources too, for those who don’t have their own lawns.


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

Thank you for sharing these ideas! Very helpful especially for beginners like me. Appreciated it!!


Wednesday 13th of February 2019

Grocery stores save the old bread an veggies an sell it to local in the high desert in southern cali.


Friday 31st of August 2018

I'm leaning about chikens..I appreciate you sharing. .. I need to prepare my back yard this fall and hopefully next year my husband will build me a chicken coop and the run. I'm so excited! I'm an animal lover and also I love healthy eggs.

Rose Lopez

Saturday 23rd of June 2018

I wish groceries stores would give the old lettuce and stale bread here. They rather throw it away. We had asked for our chickens. Their comment was they can't do that. You have given me alot of ideas. I appreciate that. I'm on a fixed income. A senior citizen.

I love chickens


Wednesday 5th of September 2018

Don't say it's for your chickens Tom it's for your compost pile maybe I'll have better luck