what to feed chickens

by Raquel Boyer Published 1 year ago Updated 1 year ago

Comparison Table

Scratch and Peck Feeds Naturally Free Or ... 25lb Yes
Kalmbach Feeds Organic Layer Feed with O ... 40lb Yes
Mile Four Organic Layer Feed 50lb No
Prairie’s Choice Non-GMO Backyard Chicke ... 25lb No
Jul 3 2022

Good choices include leafy greens, cooked beans, corn, non-sugary cereals and grains, berries, apples and most other fruits and vegetables. Despite often voracious appetites and a willingness to eat just about anything you might give them, there are some foods to be avoided.

Full Answer

What food is harmful to chickens?

What Not to Feed Chickens From the Kitchen

  • Anything Containing Caffeine or Alcohol
  • Anything Salty
  • Anything Sugary
  • Avocado (controversial, certainly avoid the skin and pit)
  • Butter
  • Candy and Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Fried Foods
  • Junk food such as chips and pretzels
  • Ice Cream, Sherbet, Frozen Yogurt

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What is the best thing to feed chickens?

Here’s a list of common things they’ll consume in the wild:

  • Water plants
  • Leaves
  • Roots
  • Grass
  • Berries
  • Seeds
  • Snails
  • Fish eggs
  • Small fish
  • Earthworms

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What type of feed should I Feed my chickens?

Usually, commercial feeds will include grains like wheat, oats, or corn. These grains provide all the phosphorus, B-vitamins, and whole grains (as well as more protein) that your chicks need to stay healthy. Chicken need certain vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, and B. They also need salt.

What can I Feed my chickens to fatten them up?

You can supplement what you give the chicken to help it fatten up more. Cracked corn, whole wheat and soy can be fed to chickens throughout the day. These items help to pack on the weight.If you decide your chickens need better nutrition for better weight and muscle development I would recommend using a conditioning feed.


What should I feed my chickens everyday?

Chickens love fruit and vegetables, and you can give them this daily. Our girls love vegetable peels, bananas, apple cores, carrots, and broccoli. You are safe to feed chickens pretty much any vegetable or fruit except any raw green peels (such as green potato peel) and any citric fruits such as oranges and lemons.

What should you not feed chickens?

What Not to Feed Chickens: 7 Things to AvoidAvocadoes (mainly the pit and peel) ... Chocolate or Candy. ... Citrus. ... Green Potato Skins. ... Dry Beans. ... Junk Food. ... Moldy or Rotten Food. ... High Salt Content Items.

What is the best food for chickens to lay eggs?

FEEDING CHICKENS FOR EGG PRODUCTION IN SMALL AND BACKYARD FLOCKSProviding vitamin and electrolyte supplements for more than 10 days.Supplementing complete feeds with cracked corn, oats, or other grains.Regularly adding green chops, lettuce, or other low nutrition ingredients to the diet.More items...

What household foods can chickens eat?

Grains – Rice, wheat, and other grains are fine for your chickens. Vegetables – Most cooked or raw vegetables are okay to feed your chickens. Suggestions include broccoli, carrots (cooked or shredded), cabbage, chard, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, pumpkins, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Can chickens eat carrots?

Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries make healthy snacks for chickens when fed in moderation. A few flock favorites include: Vegetables: Lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, swiss chard, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

Can chickens eat banana peels?

Chickens can eat banana peels. Though some chickens won't eat the whole peel and prefer to chop into the little pieces. However, ensure that you are not exposing your birds to dangerous elements if you're thinking of feeding your flock banana peels.

Is bread good for chickens?

Bread is a nutritionally void food in chickens, ducks, and other birds, so don't gamble that your fowls would get any value from it. Chickens, especially chicks, require high protein diets for development. While bread can be a treat for chickens, it lacks the protein content they need.

How many times a day should I feed my chickens?

How Often to Feed Chickens. Ideally, you should split your chicken's feed into two servings daily. If you're home during the day, you can even make this 3-4 small feedings. Chickens enjoy small, frequent meals as opposed to large meals once a day.

Is rice good for chickens?

Rice is a good treat to give to your chickens from time to time. However, it should not replace any essentials of your chickens' diet. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Chickens would most likely eat whatever you give them.

What is toxic to chickens?

Foods that are poisonous to Chickens Raw or dried beans. These are dangerous for both humans and also chickens, consumption will result in serious illness or death. Apple seeds. Feel free to feed your chickens apples, but do not feed them apple seeds.

Can chickens eat carrot peels?

Chickens like carrot tops and can eat the peelings as well. They can consume carrot top stems and leaves safely. This part of the carrot contains nutrients that the hens can enjoy. Carrot tops are nutritious and easy for the chickens to consume.

Can chickens eat apples?

Can chickens eat apples? Yes. Your girls can eat apples and apple sauce too. It's best to chop them to aid digestion although you may notice that they will peck at windfalls.

Chicken Feed and Supplements

We’ll start with the obvious, what can chickens eat? Chicken feed of course!

Feed Chickens Bugs

There’s no denying it, one of the the best things you can feed to chickens is bugs!

Feed Chickens Weeds and Flowers

One of the most satisfying things to feed your chickens is the weeds that pop up in your yard and garden!

Feed Chickens Kitchen Scraps

Food waste from the kitchen is an unfortunate fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a problem when you have chickens!

Feed Chickens from the Garden

If you have a vegetable or herb garden, or even an orchard, your chickens can reap the benefits!

What is poultry feed?

Over many years now the poultry feed industry has researched and refined the essential nutritional requirements of poultry, from chicks to adult, from chickens to quail, turkey and others. The feed that they produce is formulated to maximize the growth and egg laying potential of each bird.

What is chicken pellets?

Here’s a list of the most frequent terms: Pellets: Chicken feed is made into pelletized form for ease of use and decreased waste. Crumbles: Pellets that have been reduced to chick size pieces for ease of eating. Mash: Mash is basically unprocessed feed. The particles are very small almost powder-like.

What is the difference between starter feed and grower feed?

Starter feed has 20-24% protein content to give the chick’s metabolism all the energy it needs for rapid growth. Grower feed has slightly less protein at around 18%. You may think this is not a big difference, but an overload of protein can cause kidney problems later in life.

How to give your flock complete nutrition?

In order to give your flock complete nutrition you will need to know the exact nutritional requirements of your flock (protein, vitamins, minerals etc.) in order to provide optimal healthy feed for them. You will also need enough space to mix all your ingredients together.

What is chicken mash?

Mash: Mash is basically unprocessed feed. The particles are very small almost powder-like. It can be used for chicks or adults and it can be fed dry or wet. Fermented: This is any type of chicken feed that has been mixed with water and allowed to ferment naturally.

How long does it take for a chicken to eat before it is culled?

The life of a broiler chicken is very short, sometimes as little as 5 weeks before they are culled. During this time they need a high protein diet, between 22-24% is recommended. Several feed companies have made it easy for us. They make a 22% protein feed specifically for broilers.

What are the most common amino acids in food?

There are usually some amino acids – lysine and methionine are the commonest. Vitamins – most often A, E, D3 and B12 plus trace mineral elements such as phosphorus and copper sulfate. Enzymes to help with digestion and of course fiber in the form of the grain in the product.

What do Chickens Eat?

Chickens are omnivores, just like us. This means that naturally, they would eat seeds, plants, insects, earthworms, snails, small animals such as frogs, mice, and even some snakes.


Although it has no actual nutritional value, insoluble grit is necessary to help chickens break down their food in the gizzard .

Oyster Shell

Besides grit, the mineral calcium is required to build strong bones and form a hard egg shell. One of the best and easiest ways of providing calcium is by feeding your hens ground oyster shells as part of their diet.

Essential Nutrition

Just as in a human diet, the key is variety and balance. Many chickens live their entire lives only being fed on ready-made commercial chicken feed. Commercial feed is a complete feed and carefully balanced by poultry nutrition experts to contain all the essential nutrients your chickens need.

Different Types of Chicken Feed

To take the guesswork out of feeding chickens a complete and healthy diet, it is best to use a good quality commercial feed made for the type of birds you have. While it may be tempting to make your own DIY chicken feed, it can be difficult and expensive to create a mix that meets all of your chickens nutritional needs.

Pellets vs Crumbles vs Mash

Commercial feeds are sold in three forms: pellets, crumbles, and mash. This simply refers to the size of the feed.

Speciality Feeds

You can find a number of specialty chicken feeds, including organic, soy-free, corn-free, and non-GMO. These types of feed will cost more than the average bag of commercial chicken feed.

What are the best foods for chickens?

Yogurt and kefir and even cheese are highly loved by chickens and the action of the microbes on the proteins and lactose improve digestibility. In this case, the microbes do the same thing for the chickens that they do for us; probiotics and a properly colonized gut are the first line of defense against disease.

What do commercial producers feed their chickens?

Commercial producers feed a highly controlled diet to their birds, and there are good reasons for that. Backyard hobbyists and homesteaders love to give treats to their girls. We'll talk about what to feed chickens and what not to feed chickens to keep your flock happy and healthy. Contents.

What can chickens not eat in compost?

When you have a compost pile accessible to your flock, you will find various detritus tossed off into the lawn. Onions, citrus rinds, melon rinds, potatoes and potato skins, corn husks, plant stems, carrot tops, solid chunks of hard, raw veggies will be avoided by the chickens.

What to use for chickens in winter?

Hanging mesh baskets filled with greens can also be used, or beefy weeds like dandelions. This is especially valuable in winter, because it provides exercise and a snack! Another popular “entertainment treat” is dried mealworms. These are great for when your chickens have limited access to fresh worms and bugs.

How to feed feathered friends?

Start with a balanced ration, and then relax and enjoy your birds. With very few exceptions, your feathered friends can eat almost the same things that you do. Remember, as in life, moderation is the key.

Why is a slower growth curve beneficial for birds?

For birds intended to be layers or breeders, a slower growth curve is beneficial to give a chance for really robust internal maturation.

Do potatoes have nutrition?

Potatoes contain more nutrition than you might think. While I wouldn’t make them the base of any diet, moderate consumption of the cooked spud is not a problem. Editor's note: In The Resilient Gardener, the author uses potatoes as a significant portion of her winter duck food ration.

What to feed chickens to keep them healthy?

If you want to offer some variety and more nutrient-rich options, try feeding them leafy greens. Kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, and chard are all great choices. Chickens probably won’t immediately gravitate to greens as they do to sweet foods like berries or dense starches like bread.

What is the best food for chickens?

1. Scratch Feed. Scratch feed is a mixture of different grains and seeds–it usually contains wheat, cracked corn, barley, and sunflower seeds. It gets its name because chickens will peck and scratch to get to it. Scratch feed can encourage chickens to forage, and it’s great for reducing boredom.

What to feed chickens in winter?

When you think about what to feed chickens, oatmeal probably isn’t what first comes to mind. But oats are a major ingredient in chicken feed, so it makes sense that chickens like oatmeal, too. Warm oatmeal can be a great snack for them, especially in winter.

What to feed a chicken to get rid of stale bread?

However, bread is a popular treat among many chicken keepers. Feeding your pet chickens bread is a great way to get rid of stale bread. Make sure it isn’t moldy, though–mold can make your chicken sick.

What is it like to raise chickens?

Raising chickens is a fun and rewarding experience. When you spend time with your birds, you’ll get to know their individual personalities. Sometimes they’ll even eat out of your hand! And just like people, your chickens will appreciate some variety in their diets. If you’ve been wondering what to feed chickens, you’ve come to the right place.

What do chickens eat?

Berries. Berries, and especially strawberries, are a major treat for chickens. They taste sweet and can give your birds an energy boost. Berries are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Even if you have a picky flock, almost any chicken will jump at the chance to eat some blueberries or strawberries.

How long does it take for a chicken to switch to layer feed?

This type of feed is intended to make sure they get all the nutrition they need. After about 18 weeks , you’ll need to switch them over to layer feed. This feed is made for adult birds and has enough calcium to support laying hens. Make sure you do this gradually–switching feeds abruptly can result in upset stomachs.

What are some good treats for chickens?

The best treats for chickens are natural, healthy and wholesome. Purina ® Farm to Flock ™ Treats allow you to spoil your hens but not their diet.

How to feed chickens a balanced diet?

Feeding chickens a balanced and complete diet is simple if you follow the 90/10 rule and are mindful of the foods your birds have access to. Start with a complete feed as the baseline and then be careful not to over-treat your birds with goodies. When you do provide treats, choose healthy, wholesome treats that complement a bird’s diet.

How much should laying hens eat?

Laying hens eat approximately 0.25 pounds of complete feed each day, which is about the same as one-half cup. When putting the 90/10 rule into practice, this means treats should not exceed 2 tablespoons. A few small chicken treats are all they should have each day.

How many taste buds do chickens have?

Backyard chickens have fewer than 350 taste buds compared to humans’ 10,000. Still, treats and foraging can be fun pastimes for the flock. If you’d like to offer treats and free-range time, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

How many nutrients does a chicken need?

Chickens require 38 unique nutrients at the correct levels. Purina ® complete feeds are formulated to meet these demands. Choose one complete starter-grower feed for day 1 through week 18 and one complete layer feed for laying hens. To prevent nutrient dilution, provide complete feed for at least 90 percent of the bird’s diet.

What vegetables can chickens eat?

Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries make healthy snacks for chickens when fed in moderation. Vegetables: Lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, swiss chard, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

What plants can birds eat?

Perennials: Daylilies, hostas, daisies, roses, coneflowers and ferns. If birds are free-ranging, they will find their favorite plants and snack on them. Install a chicken fence or tunnel in the yard to keep them away from your favorite gardens and consider planting a chicken-friendly garden for them to explore.

What vegetables can chickens eat?

Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, and tons of other veggies are chicken-safe. Avoid feeding raw potatoes and potato peels, as well as other nightshades, as these can make your chickens sick. Veggies can be fed on a daily basis. Fruits: Bananas, apple cores and peels, melons, and grapes are good options, ...

Why are chickens important?

Chickens are great additions to both traditional and urban farms. They help with pest control and produce enough eggs that many people sell them or give them away. Chickens are also foragers by nature, so they will happily spend the entire day pecking around for something to eat.

What to do if your chicken isn't eating?

What to Do if Your Chicken Isn’t Eating. If you have a chicken that isn’t eating, you can offer things like a mush of commercial feed mixed with warm milk or water. Sometimes, all your chicken needs is to be handfed for a little while, so you can try this as well as attempting feeding via syringe or spoon.

What to do if chicken refuses to eat?

If your chicken continues to refuse to eat or if you have multiple chickens who are suddenly showing inappetence, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s possible your chickens may have encountered toxins or poisons and need veterinary care. When in doubt, contact your vet!

How much water should a chicken drink?

They should always have access to clean water to prevent dehydration. A single chicken can drink up to a liter of water daily , and sometimes will drink even more during hot weather.

Why do you feed small meals twice a day?

A major benefit of feeding small meals twice daily is that it decreases the risk of attracting pests from food left sitting in the feed trough. Pick up any unfinished food at night to avoid attracting mice, possums, and other pest animals. Image Credit: Merrimon Crawford, Shutterstock.

Can chickens eat table scraps?

Others are dangerous to their health, like citrus and raw potatoes, and some table scraps aren’t necessarily “good” for your chickens, but they’ll enjoy eating them. Image Credit: Suriyawut Suriya, Shutterstock.

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