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The Very Best Healthy Treats for Chickens

We’re going to explore the best healthy treats for chickens, and share what you definitely shouldn’t be feeding to your birds!

Chickens can be the best little beggars you’ve ever seen! They’ll put your dog to shame, because they have no shame. Try having a picnic outside while your chickens are running free. You’ll be spending more time moving chickens off the table than you will eating!

Chickens love treats and will eat just about anything you’re willing to give them. But, what treats for chickens are the best?

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A chicken eating cracked corn.

The Very Best Healthy Treats for Chickens:

Backyard chickens are wonderful for so many reasons, not only do they give you breakfast every day, but they can help you take care of those mushy leftovers lurking in your fridge too! It’s your job as chicken keepers to know which treats are good for chickens and which are bad.

While you can feed your chickens a wide variety of foods, these are considered to be the most nutritious and enjoyable treats for chickens.

Always remember, treats are just that, treats! They’re not meals.

Chickens should still get their regular chicken feed and supplements like oyster shells, but if you want to really be their favorite human, these are the best treats for your flock.

Vegetables and Fruit

Your flock should be getting a wide variety of fruits and veggies to ensure good health.

Favorite fruit and vegetables include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Watermelon
  • Pumpkins
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Cooked Carrots
  • Squash
  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Grapes

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the vast majority of them are fine to feed to your flock, there are a few that are off limits, however. We’ll cover that at the end.

Chickens eating a pumpkin

Frozen veggies and fruit

Our chickens just love summer treats on a hot day! We like to freeze various fruits and veggies with a little water or yogurt in muffin tins, then pop them out and watch the flock go wild pecking at their treats!

Meat

Meat scraps are perfectly fine for chickens, and a good source of protein if they can’t find insects to eat. We feed our flock leftover meat from the fridge, or meat that managed to get freezer burned.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a healthy treat for chickens, and as a bonus, it helps even out the bacteria in their guts, making it easier to digest food. Feed them plain yogurt, they don’t need the added sugar in other types.

Insects (Especially Mealworms)

Feeding bugs to chickens is very entertaining and satisfying, especially when the bugs you’re feeding them were just in your garden, eating your tomatoes. Insects are a great source of protein for chickens, and they just love them.

Chickens can hunt for their own insects while free-ranging, or you can provide them by digging them out of the soil or pulling them from plants. Our free range flock loves to chase after moths and crickets in the woods, it’s good entertainment and healthy chicken treats all in one!

If you don’t free range your flock, you can still feed them insects. Dried mealworms can be purchased from the feed store, bought on Amazon, or raised in your own home, if you’re not the squeamish type. You can also buy dried grubs, and some stores even sell dried crickets.

Chickens eating dried grubs out of someone's hand

Chicken Scratch

Some people believe that chicken scratch is a meal in itself. It’s certainly not. Scratch is mostly made up of corn and is to be fed only as a treat. We use it in the winter to keep chickens occupied during the day and help them put on a little insulating fat. Scratch grains are a great treat in small amounts.

Flock Block

The Flock Block is the perfect chicken treat. Full of nutrient dense seeds and grains, this treat is held together with suet. One block will last a small flock several weeks, and will not only serve as a snack but as a boredom buster as well. This is by far our flock’s favorite treat, we always keep one or two flock blocks as winter treats, as it’s a great way to keep them busy and moving on cold days.

Sunflower Seeds

Black oil sunflower seeds are highly nutritious and a favorite chicken snack. They can be purchased at your local feed store or online.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a big favorite with our girls, especially on a cold winter’s day. You don’t need to add sugar to chicken oatmeal, but the ladies do appreciate some fresh or frozen fruit tossed in.

Check out these 100 foods that you can feed your chickens.

A buff orpington chicken

Treats for Chickens in Moderation

These treats aren’t necessarily bad for your chickens, but if you do give them to your chickens, they should be fed in moderation to maintain optimal health.

White Breads, Rice, Cereal & Pasta

White starches have practically no nutritional value and only serve to put on excess weight. We rarely feed these foods to our flock unless they’re part of a leftover veggie casserole.

Cheese, Milk, and Whey

Dairy products are fine for chickens, even good for them, but too much of a tasty treat can lead to diarrhea and digestion problems. We occasionally give our chickens milk, cottage cheese, and cream, but we keep it to a minimum. It’s a good idea to feed these as an occasional treat.

A girl feeding chickens through a fence

Unhealthy Treats for Chickens

These are the worst treats for your chickens. Some are poisonous to chickens and others are just going to make them sick or fat.

Junk Food

Your chickens should never be eating junk food. This includes sugar coated foods, fried foods, anything salty or heavily processed. Although most junk food doesn’t pose a big threat to your chickens, feeding it to them will cause them to gain unnecessary weight. Excess weight on a chicken puts strain on body, just the same it does for you. Always choose healthy treats for your chickens.

Dried or Uncooked Beans

Dry beans are toxic to chickens, just don’t do it!

Avocado Peels or Nuts

Avocado and guacamole are fine as long as they don’t contain the fuzzy brown seed cover, which contains a deadly compound called persin. If you want to be on the safe side, don’t feed avocado at all to your chickens, eat this delicious snack yourself!

Chickens eating scratch grain

Citrus Fruits

While citrus is not technically bad for chickens, it’s just not something that they like to eat. Tossing citrus in your chicken coop is more likely to attract lots of flies while it sits there, uneaten.

Green Potatoes and Potato Peels

Even you shouldn’t be eating green potatoes, so definitely don’t give them to your chickens. Green potatoes contain a toxin called Solanine. Potato peels should also be avoided if they aren’t cooked, as they’re difficult for chickens to digest.

Spoiled Food

When feeding treats to chickens it’s tempting to just give them anything that you don’t want to eat. Chickens should never be eating food that is moldy, rotten, or spoiled in any way.

A good general rule when it comes to treats for chickens is, if it’s not good for you to eat, don’t give it to your chickens. Chickens are omnivores and will eat practically anything, but it’s up to you to moderate what goes in. Remember, everything they eat, you’ll eat later through their eggs and meat.

Here is our list of more food you should not feed to your chickens. 

So, what do you think? Do you agree with our list of healthy treats for chickens or disagree? Have any to add? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

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Sam Miley

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Thank you so much for the article, My family and I are constantly researching as we are just a year into raising backyard chickens. WE LOVE to spoil our girls and my daughter and I like "cooking" for them. We serve them gourmet meals, such as Yogurt and cherry tomato parfait with fresh thyme garnish, or fresh peas and cantaloupe salad with mint garnish...well, you get the point. This article was very helpful as i have been tempted to spread fresh potato peels and know know it's a no-no. Thank you again!

Kristi Wheeler

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Thanks for the great list of healthy chicken treats! My chickens like oatmeal too.It's so hot here, so when we do have the rare cold weather even in the wintertime, the chickens really appreciate some warm oatmeal!

Doug

Saturday 30th of November 2019

Hi thanks for your help. My chooks are my friends, your information has been wonderful, and I have passed it on to other people. Thanks again

Kimberly Boone

Friday 27th of September 2019

Love your article! Even though I've had chickens for years, it's always good to have reminders. Currently I have 29 girls and one handsome roo. They love to see me coming with a bucket full of weeds and herbs (they have a super large run because coyotes and fox make it difficult to safely free range). Each day they have a mix of fruits and veggies along with layer crumbles. We had volunteer cantaloupe and spaghetti squash in our garden this year and they just love both of these.

Shirley Rose

Friday 28th of June 2019

I'm so careful about feeding my girls only organic feed, fresh fruits and veggies. However I do worry about letting them turn over the compost. Would you consider the compost spoiled food?

Sherry

Friday 17th of July 2020

My girls head over to the compost often. They seem to know what to eat, mainly looking for bugs and scraps that are still good. They do a good job of turning it. I've read lots of articles about the beneficial relationship between garden, compost, and chickens. Hope this helps a little.

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