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 should you be giving them? We’re going to explore the best healthy treats for chickens, and share what you definitely shouldn’t be feeding to your birds!
Healthy Treats for Chickens:
While you can feed your chickens a wide variety of foods, these are considered to be the most nutritious and enjoyable treats for chickens.
Vegetables and Fruit
Your flock should be getting a wide variety of fruits and veggies to ensure good health. Favorites include: Leafy greens, watermelon, pumpkins, broccoli, bananas, and tomatoes. There are a few that are off limits, however. We’ll cover that at the end.
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 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. Feed them plain yogurt, they don’t need the added sugar in other types.
Insects, especially meal worms
Feeding bugs to chickens is very entertaining and satisfying, especially when the bugs you’re feeding them were just in your garden, eating your tomato leaves. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Black oil sunflower seeds are highly nutritious and a favorite chicken snack. They can be purchased at your local feed store or online.
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.
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 and pastas
White starches have practically no nutritional value and only serve to put on excess weight.
Cheese, milk, and whey
Dairy products are fine for chickens, even good for them, but too much of a good thing can lead to diarrhea and digestion problems. Feed these in moderation.
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.
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!
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.
Foods that have spoiled
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.
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!