Chickens love treats, there’s no doubt about that, but there is a few things that chickens shouldn’t eat. Not only that, but treats should only be about 10% of their diet. With that being said, it still is a good idea to give your chickens little treats to keep them entertained, and I think your chickens will defiantly appreciate a little snack. Here’s a list of treats chickens can and can’t have, and how often they should have it.
These defiantly should be avoided, but chickens can eat a few of these foods in small amounts. Chickens can eat most table scraps, along with culinary scraps, so there’s not much to worry about. Anyways, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Nightshade family Eggplants, potatoes (except for sweet potatoes, which are part of the Morning Glory family) and tomatoes (in small amounts tomatoes are ok) Members of this family contain solanine, which is toxic to chickens. However, this can be broken when cooked, but not completely, so it’s better to avoid them.
- Apple seeds: Seeds contain cyanide, but the other parts of the apple are perfectly safe.
- Citrus fruits: Fine in moderation is fine, but too much can cause calcium absorption and a drop in egg production.
- Avocado: Contains toxin persin, which has been led to heart failure in chickens, or myocardial necrosis.
- Onions: Contains thiosulphate which destroy’s red blood cells, can sometimes even be fatal in large amounts. If cooked, the thiosulphate is cooked off, but not completely, so it’s best just to avoid them.
- Beans: Uncooked or dried beans contain hemagglutinin. Cooked are perfectly safe, however.
- Dairy: Chickens can get diarrhea from dairy, as they cannot digest the milk, but small amounts of yogurt is actually beneficial.
- Salt: To much salt can cause a chicken to suffer from salt poisoning, as they cannot digest salt properly.
- Asparagus: Taints the eggs flavor
- Mouldy Food: Mold can cause illness and is potentially fatal.
- Caffine: Can be found in chocolates and tea bags and coffee, and alongside theobromine, can cause heart failures in birds.
- Scratch Grains: These are a great winter treat as the corn warms up your chickens, but be sure to limit how much they get as their main food source needs to be their feed.
- Grass, Clovers, Weeds, Non-toxic Plants, Culinary Herbs: These are extremely good treats to give your chickens, and there’s no unhealthy amount for them! My chickens love these, as do any chicken, and eating these can actually make their egg yolks more orange. As ling as they aren’t sprayed with pesticides, these are perfect and cheap! Read here for a list of herbs for chickens.
- Eggs: No, this doesn’t make your chickens cannibals, it’s actually good for your chickens! Eggs have a lot of essential vitamins and protein in them, and it’s a perfect cheap treat!
- Watermelons: This is really beneficial in the summer because of its water content, and serving it will help your chickens stay cool, plus they love it!
- Pumpkins: Thought to be a natural wormer, these are amazing to give your chickens, plus they’re full of vitamins and chickens love them! Read here for fall worming recipes.
- Oatmeal: A staple in my coop, it’s an amazing winter treat when served warm and it’s really beneficial to your chickens. It’s said that chicks fed oatmeal are healthier than those aren’t, and it’s also a way to help prevent pasty butt. Here’s my oatmeal recipe that my chickens love!
- Seeded fruits and Pitted fruits: Chickens love these, but be sure not to give them the seeds! Some include grapes, apples, pears (etc.)
- Berries: Strawberries are a favorite, but my birds also really enjoy blackberries and raspberries.
- Vegetable assortments: Sweet Potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, beets, broccoli, collards, lettuce and spinach, corn, bell peppers, green beans, peas are all good examples and high in vitamins.
- Seeds, Nuts: Breads, unsalted nuts, oats, grains, flax, millet, sunflower (a favorite!) and safflower seeds, and plain popcorn are tasty snacks for chickens, and whole grain is prefered.
- Insects, Meat and Seafood: High in protein, these are a perfect treat for chickens. Mine seem to enjoy leftover salmon dinner, which is perfect as salmon is high in omega 3’s, and mealworms, solider fly larvae, grasshoppers and roaches are the favorites in the insect department! Live insects and dried are both good, so be sure to give your chickens all those unwanted bugs!
When’s Treat Time?
A grown hen typically eats her feed intake (about half and cup of feed per chicken) in the morning, leaving the afternoons full of empty time for bordem. A good bordem buster is giving your chickens treats. With this being said, DON’T give your chickens treats in the morning because chickens need to eat their feed that’s full of vitamins before eating any treats in order to stay healthy.
On another note, as with other animals, it’s hard to tell how much of something is too much, which is why some things on this list are described as potentially toxic. I stay away from these foods all together, just in case. The last thing anyone wants is sick chicken! I hope this makes it easier for you to decide which things your chickens should have at their next snack time! And don’t forget, there’s some plants that are toxic to chickens as well, so be sure to check out my post on toxic plants. Happy chickening!
Here’s a few articles you might find interesting on toxic foods:
Dancing with Chickens