What Chickens Eat

A quick guide to what chickens eat and how to feed them.

See our downloadable guide for the most detailed information about what chickens love to eat and how chickens can gain the below essential nutrients.  We also include suggested feeding amounts to get you started!

Whether you are new to keeping chickens or have raised them for years, considering what you are feeding your flock is a good habit to practice. We constantly consult guides for what we can and cannot feed our chickens (because who can remember all of that!), from table scraps to backyard plants around the coop. It is always a good idea to be informed about the dangers or benefits of what your chickens are exposed to.

Chickens, like any other living thing, have certain nutritional requirements to live a healthy life.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR CHICKEN NUTRITION INCLUDE:

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Fresh water

All living things need fresh water to maintain healthy body function and metabolism.

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Protein

Protein is important for muscle and tissue building and repair.

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Carbohydrates

Provides “quick” energy to the birds throughout the day.

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Fats and Oils

Provides long term energy the birds can burn off throughout the day and keeps feathers and skin healthy.

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Vitamin A

Needed for normal growth, disease resistance, vision, and reproductive health.

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Vitamin B Complex

Needed to maintain optimum growth rate and reproductive health.

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Vitamin D

Healthy growth, prevention of rickets, strengthens eggshells.

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Vitamin K

Improves circulation and keeps blood healthy.

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Calcium

Strengthens bones and eggshells.

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Phosphorous

Strengthens bones and eggshells.

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Zinc

Needed for healthy skin and feather development.

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Manganese

Strengthens eggshells and creates a good hatching rate.

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Iodine

Control of metabolism

Chickens eating corn off the cobb

Are you looking for even more ways to increase your chickens’ health?

Learn how to ferment chicken feed or what your chickens’ egg yolks are telling you? See our easy chicken raising videos for the answers!

Treats Chickens Can Eat

Treats should be fed to chickens in moderation and consist of only about 10% of their total diet.

 

Daily Feed = 1/3-1/2 cup (5.3-8 Tablespoons)
Daily Treat = 10% = between 5.3/10 and 8/10 Tablespoon

Treats Chickens Can Eat

Apples/Pears (without seeds)

Bananas

Beans (cooked)

Berries

Breads

Bugs (Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Mealworms, Crickets)

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts

Carrots (especially leaves!)

Cereal (no sugar)

Corn

Cucumbers

Eggs (thoroughly cooked)

Flowers (untreated with pesticides and no bulb flowers)

Fruit (no pits)

Grains

Grapes/Raisins

Leafy Greens (Lettuce, Broccoli leaves, Kale)

Melons

Oatmeal

Pasta (cooked)

Peppers

Pomegranites

Plain Popcorn

Squash

Scratch

Sprouts

Sunflower Seeds

Sweet Potato

Tomatoes (nothing green on the plant though)

Yogurt

Treats Chickens Can’t Eat and Why

Apple/Pear Seeds

Contains trace amounts of cyanide.

Anything Really Salty

Can cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.

Avocado

Skin and pit have low levels of toxicity. Fruit contains Persin, which is potentially fatal.

Butter

Too fatty for chickens.

Citrus

Can cause salt poisoning in small bodies such as chickens.

Coffee/Coffee Grounds

Caffeine is not good for chickens.

Dried/Undercooked Beans

Raw, or dry beans, contain a poison called hemagglutinin which is toxic to birds.

Eggplant Fruit/Leaves

Contains solanine that can cause gastrointestinal and neurological disorders.

Green Tomato and Leaves

Contains solanine that can cause gastrointestinal and neurological disorders.

Onion

Can flavor eggs in small quantities and can cause anemia in larger quantities. Best to stay away from it.

Raw Eggs

You don’t want to introduce your chickens to the tastiness of eggs which may be waiting to be collected in the nest boxes.

Raw Green Potato Peels/Leaves

Contains solanine that can cause gastrointestinal and neurological disorders.

Rhubarb and Leaves

NOPE. Can contain oxalic acid which is harmful to the birds.

Sugar

Sugar is not good for birds.

Treats Chickens Can’t Eat

These foods can make your chicken VERY sick, so it is best to avoid them.

Phone

661-523-3820

Address

P.O. Box 80620

Phoenix, AZ 85060-0620

Chickens.org is a program of Capax World, a 501-c-3 charity dedicated to sustainably alleviating malnutrition and poverty.