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  • Writer's pictureBrowns' Family Farmstead

Feeding Your Flock: A-Z Guide of What Chickens Can Eat

Summary

  • Fruits, vegetables, and leftovers provide a nutritious and entertaining treat while preventing food waste.

  • You can supplement your chicken's diet from a variety of sources such as scraps/leftovers from preparing meals, an overabundance from the garden, or even from the clearance rack at your grocery store.

  • t is recommended to feed chickens treats after they have eaten their regular feed and should not account for more than 10% of their diet.

Barred Rock Chickens Eating

Chickens can eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even leftovers. These foods can supplement their diet and provide nutrition. However, for your flock to be healthy it is important to know what chickens can and can't eat.


Table of Contents

What is The General Rule of Thumb for Foods Chickens Can’t eat?

Food that is highly processed, high in fat, sugar, or salt are generally not recommended to feed your chickens.


Typically, fruits are okay, but not the seeds are not as they contain toxic chemicals. See specific fruits for more details.


It should be noted that some commercials foods may not provide the grit required for chickens to digest other food. This is most common in food for baby chicks or some crumbles. Check out When Do Chickens Need Grit for more detailed information.


Why Feed Chicken Supplemental Food?

Quality feed should provide a well-balanced diet for your flock. If you have been following the recent chicken feed conspiracy you may want to explore supplementing your feed, you may be new to chickens, or perhaps you want to reduce waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.


Also a balanced diet is crucial for chickens to live long and healthy lives. When the average chicken only lives 3- 7 years, this becomes a very important factor.


For more information of how long chickens live and lay eggs, read our article.


We have been giving our chickens scraps/treats since they were old enough to be in the coop (8 weeks). We have found that it brings out their natural instinct for foraging and provides them with entertainment when they are confined to the run.


Where Can I Get Free Food To Feed My Chickens?

Year round you can feed your chickens scraps from meal prep/cooking. In the summer and fall when the garden is in full bloom we regularly give our chicks a portion of the bounty.

During the winter when we do not have an abundance at our fingertips we will browse the discount fruit and vegetable section at our local grocery store. It is important to find scraps that are not spoiled or rotting.


When Can I Give My Chickens Treats?

It is recommended to give treats after your flock has eaten their regular feed. This is because, similar to scratch, Chickens will fill up on their treats rather than their feed and it can lead to an imbalanced diet.


A great time to give your chickens treats is in the summer. This can be as simple as mint leaves or apple chunks that are frozen in ice-cubes. This is not only provides chickens with entertainment, but also helps to keep them cool.


For more ideas on how to keep your flock cool in extreme weather, read our article.


How Many Kitchen Treats Can I Give My Chickens?

Treats are supplemental and should be given to chickens in moderation. The rule of thumb is up to 10% of your chicken's diet.


Note that some foods should be given in moderation such as bread as it can swell in their stomachs leading to medical issues.

Brown Easter Egger Chicken Eating

A-Z Comprehensive Guide of What Chickens Can Eat

Here is a comprehensive list of foods we approve of feeding your flock.


Note there are some foods that may technically be digestible by your birds, but due to general guidelines such as salt restrictions we may not recommend it.


A

Food

Yes/No

Acorn Squash

Yes

Acorn Squash Seeds

Yes

Acorn Squash Skin

Yes

Alcohol

No

Alfalfa

Yes

Almonds

Yes

Amaranth (Died/Cooked)

Yes

Amaranth (Raw)

No

Ants

Yes

Apple Leaves

No

Apples (Seedless)

Yes

Apple Pie

No

Apple Seeds

No

Apple Skin

Yes

Apricot Leaves

No

Apricots (Pit less)

Yes

Apricot Skin

Yes

Apricot Pit

No

Artichokes

Yes

Asparagus

Yes

Avocados (Pit less)

Yes

Avocado Pits

No

B

Food

Yes/No

Bananas

Yes

Baked Beans

Yes

Banana Bread

No

Banana Peel

Yes

Basil

Yes

Beans (Cooked)

Yes

Beans, Dry

​No

Beans (Uncooked)

No

Beef (Cooked)

Yes

Beef (Uncooked)

No

Beef Fat

Yes

Beets

Yes

Beet Leaves

Yes

Bell Peppers

Yes

Bell Pepper Leaves

No

Bell Pepper Seeds

Yes

Bird Seed

Yes

Blackberries

Yes​

Black Olives

Yes

Blueberries

Yes

Bread

Yes

Broccoli

Yes

Broccoli Stems

Yes

Brussels Sprouts

Yes

Butter

No

Butternut Squash

Yes

C

Food

Yes/No

Cabbage

Yes

Caffeine

No

Cake

No

Cantaloupe

Yes

Cantaloupe Rind

Yes

Cantaloupe Seeds

Yes

Carrots

Yes

Carrot Tops

Yes

Cauliflower

Yes

Celery

Yes

Cereal

No

Cheese

No

Cherries (Pit Less)

Yes

Cherry Pits

No

Chia Seeds

Yes

Chicken Meat (Cooked)

Yes

Chicken Meat (Raw)

Yes

Chives

Yes

Chocolate

No

Cilantro

Yes

Citrus

No

Coconut (Unsweetened)

Yes

Coffee Beans

No

jell

No

Collard Greens

Yes

Corn (Canned)

Yes

Corn Chips (Unsalted)

Yes

Corn Husk

Yes

Corn on the Cob

Yes

Cornbread

Yes

Coriander

Yes

Cottage Cheese

Yes

Crab Shells

Yes

Cranberries

Yes

Crawfish Meat

Yes

Crawfish Shells

No

Crickets

Yes

Cucumbers

Yes

Cucumber Peels

Yes

Cucumber Seeds

Yes

D

Food

Yes/No

Dairy

No

Dandelions

Yes

E

Food

Yes/No

Earthworms

Yes

Edamame

Yes

Eggs (Cooked)

Yes

Eggs (Uncooked)

​No

Egg Shells

Yes

Eggplant

Yes

Eggplant Leaves

No

Eggplant Seeds

Yes

Elderberries

Yes

F

Food

Yes/No

Fatty Foods

No

Figs

Yes

Fish

Yes

Flax Seeds

Yes

French Fries

Yes

Fried Foods

No

Frogs

Yes

Fruit Pits

No

Fruit Seeds

No

G

Food

Yes/No

Garlic

​No

Ginger

Yes

Grapes

Yes

Grape Seeds

Yes

Grapefruit

Yes

Grapefruit Peels

Yes

Grass

Yes

Grass Cuttings

Yes

Green Beans

Yes

Green Olives

Yes

Green Bell Peppers

Yes

Green Tomatoes

No

H

Food

Yes/No

Ham

No

Honey

Yes

Honeydew

Yes

Honeydew Rind

Yes

Honeydew Seeds

Yes

I

Food

Yes/No

Ice cream

No

J

Food

Yes/No

Jalapenos

Yes

Jalapeno Seeds

Yes

Japanese Beetles

Yes

Jell-o

No

K

Food

Yes/No

Kale

Yes

Kidney Beans

No

Kiwi

Yes

Kiwi Skins

Yes

L

Food

Yes/No

Lemons

No

Lentils (Dried)

No

Lentils (Cooked)

Yes

Lentil Sprouts

Yes

Lettuce

Yes

Limes

Yes

Lime Seeds

Yes

M

Food

Yes/No

Maggots

No

Mangoes

Yes

Mango Pit

Yes

Mashed Potatoes

Yes

Mealworms

Yes

Mice

Yes

Micro Greens

Yes

Milk

No

Minnows

Yes

Mint Leaves

Yes

Mosquitos

Yes

Mushrooms

Yes

N

Food

Yes/No

Nectarines

Yes

Nectarine Pits

Yes

Nightcrawlers

Yes

Noodles (Cooked)

Yes

Noodles (Uncooked)

Yes

Nuts

Yes

O

Food

Yes/No

Oatmeal (Cooked)

Yes

Oatmeal (Uncooked)

Yes

Okra

Yes

Olives (Pit less)

Yes

Onion

​No

Oranges (Seedless)

Yes

Orange Peels

Yes

Orange Seeds

No

Oregano

Yes

P

Food

Yes/No

Papaya

Yes

Papaya Pits

Yes

Pasta (Cooked)

Yes

Pasta (Uncooked)

Yes

Peaches

Yes

Peach Pits

Yes

Peanut Butter (With Xylitol)

No

Peanut Butter (Without Xylitol)

Yes

Peanuts

Yes

Pears (Seedless)

Yes

Pear Seeds

No

Peas

Yes

Pea Pods

Yes

Pecans

Yes

Peppers

Yes

Pepper Leaves

No

Pepper Seeds

Yes

Pickles

Yes

Pie

No

Pineapple

Yes

Pineapple Rind

Yes

Plums (Pit Less)

Yes

Plum Pits

No

Pomegranate

Yes

Pomegranate Seeds

Yes

Popcorn (Popped)

No

Popcorn (Un-popped)

No

Pork (Cooked)

Yes

Pork (Uncooked)

No

Potatoes (Cooked)

Yes

Potatoes (Uncooked)

​No

Potato Peels

No

Pumpkin

Yes

Pumpkin Rind

Yes

Pumpkin Seeds

Yes

Q

Food

Yes/No

Quinoa (Cooked)

Yes

Quinoa (Uncooked)

Yes

R

Food

Yes/No

Radishes

Yes

Radish Greens

Yes

Raisins

Yes

Raspberries

Yes

Red Grapes

Yes

Rhubarb

​No

Rice (Cooked)

Yes

Rice (Uncooked)

No

Rodents

Yes

Romaine Lettuce

Yes

Rosemary

Yes

Rotten Food

​No

Rye Bread

Yes

S

Food

Yes/No

Salmon (Cooked)

Yes

Salmon (Uncooked)

Yes

Salty Foods

​No

Sardines

Yes

Seaweed

Yes

Shrimp Meat

Yes

Shrimp Shells

Yes

Slugs

Yes

Snails

Yes

Snakes

Yes

Soy

No

Soybeans

No

Spaghetti (Cooked)

Yes

Spaghetti (Uncooked)

Yes

Spaghetti Squash

Yes

Spaghetti Squash Rind

Yes

Spaghetti Squash Seeds

Yes

Spinach

Yes

Sprouts

Yes

Squash

Yes

Squash Bugs

Yes

Squash Leaves

Yes

Strawberries

Yes

Sugary Foods

No

Sunflower Seeds

Yes

Sweet Potatoes

Yes

Swiss Chard

Yes

T

Food

Yes/No

Termites

Yes

Ticks

Yes

Tomatoes (Green)

No

Tomatoes (Red)

Yes

Tomato Leaves

No

Tuna

Yes

Tukey (Cooked)

Yes

Turkey (Uncooked)

Yes

Turnips

Yes

Turnip Greens

Yes

V

Food

Yes/No

Vanilla

Yes

Venison (Cooked)

Yes

Venison (Uncooked)

Yes

W

Food

Yes/No

Walnuts

Yes

Wasps

Yes

Watermelon

Yes

Watermelon Rind

Yes

Watermelon Seeds

Yes

Wheat

Yes

Worms

Yes

X

Food

Yes/No

Xylitol

No

Y

Food

Yes/No

Yams

Yes

Yarrow

Yes

Yogurt

Yes

Z

Food

Yes/No

Zinnias

Yes

Zucchini

Yes

Zucchini Seeds

Yes

Zucchini Leaves

Yes

Easter Egger Chicken Eating

Can Chickens Eat Fruit Seeds?

Typically, not. Pits and seeds often contain cyanide, which is not recommended for chickens to ingest as it can be fatal. Even if they are ingested in small doses.


Can Chickens Eat Fruit Leaves?

Typically, not. Fruit tree leaves, similar to the seeds often contain cyanide, which is not recommended for chickens to ingest as it can be fatal.


Final Thoughts

We hope you have found this list helpful. If you have another food, you would like to suggest please send us a message or leave a comment.


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