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What do Chickens eat

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What do Chickens eat

So, what do chickens eat?

Here at Chicken Review, we receive lots of questions from readers.  The top three being:

  1. What do chickens eat?
  2. Are there foods I should not let my Chickens have?
  3. How much do I feed my chickens and how can I fatten them up?

What do chickens eat?

Chickens eat most anything they can get down their throats! Chickens are not picky, (No pun intended) they will eat most anything! Chickens that are confined to a Chicken Coop will most likely be on a diet of mostly food purchased from a retail outlet such as a Farm and Garden place.

They get fed a mix of feed to keep them healthy! They also get a controlled amount of scratch. Many of these chickens become or are raised as pets and are given Chicken Treats along throughout the week. Yes, there are chicken treats and chickens love to eat them just like anything else they can stuff in their beaks!

A good rule for this is the same rule we use for our children, if I will not eat it, I probably should not feed it to my chickens. If it is bad for me, it is probably bad for them. Worms, bugs, pebbles, dirt, etc are not included. Common sense tells us many things if we will just use it!


Chickens love bugs. Grasshoppers will give you a wonderful chicken show if they don’t get caught too soon! Watching a chicken chase a flying grasshopper is a treat to a chicken owner! Yeah, I know, we are easily entertained! Bugs, worms, flies, ticks, mosquitoes, small mice, you name it! If they can swallow it, it is fair game to them!

What do Chickens eat There are things they need to eat besides the bugs and such. They need a balanced diet just like you and I, in order for them to produce a good steady egg flow. Just like us they can have too much of anything. We love it when they come running to us for their daily treats but we need to be careful what and how much we feed them.


We should feed our chickens foods that are high in protein, whole grains, low in salt, low in sugars, fruits and vegetables. These are all healthy foods for us and they are also good for our chickens! My findings is that chickens love mealworms and scrambled eggs also! They both contain lots of protein and they love them both!

Now, chickens are not animals who nurse their young and there is a reason for this! Chickens do not digest the milk sugars correctly and this can cause severe sickness or even fatality in your chickens. Although many folks feed their chickens a diet of yogurt, I personally think probiotics specifically for chickens are better. Yogurt is ok in small portions but it is not a good food in high quantities.

I mentioned treats earlier and I am all for giving our chickens treats as it makes them love and adore us more! Well, it makes them chase us more anyway! We can always pretend it is love! Chicken treats are fine when controlled and not over fed!

Over feeding your chicken with treats can cause several problems including a reduction in egg production, overweight (Obesity), protein deficiencies, and others things that can create a lot of problems for you and your pet. Too much of a good thing is bad for them just like with us!

When we purchase our mixed feed for our chickens it has been mixed to contain all the vitamins, minerals and protein they need daily. If we replace that with too many treats it affects them just like over eating treats affects us! Chickens that are free range find all kinds of minerals and protein in the fields and woods.

As stated earlier, they will eat all kinds of bugs, fruits, berries, etc. They get a good balanced diet in the wild but still they should be fed grain foods that you purchase or make to be sure that get all the minerals and nutrients they need daily. Just like us, they need a good balanced diet. A healthy chicken is a happy chicken.

Good table scrap foods for Chickens:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Grains (Rice and Wheat)
  • Fruits (Melons, berries, apples, etc.)
  • Corn
  • Bread (Avoid Moldy Breads)
  • Most cooked foods (Cut up for consumption so they do not get choked if you feed them meats)

There are several other list out there and ideas for foods good for your chickens.

There is a good article over at “The Chicken Chick” on this topic of treats. Stop by and give her a visit.

Are there foods I should not let my Chickens have?

What do Chickens eat Many people feed their table scraps to their chickens and this is ok as long as you know the good scraps from the bad. Yes, there are food items that your chickens should not consume. Several processed foods are not good for them and can even be hazardous and fatal.


There is lots of information about  “Feeding your Chickens Table Scraps”. Some good and bad scraps that you need to take time to check out before you take a chance on hurting or even poisoning your pet. Some scraps are good for them and some bad.

Just to touch on a couple of foods that are not good for your chickens in this article.

Foods Chickens should NOT eat:

  • Avocados: Larger doses of avocados can be fatal. Small doses are ok but do not overfeed this to your chicken.
  • Green Potatoes: These are not good in high quantities. The potato plants are not good for them either. As with the avocado, small doses will not hurt them but large doses can.
  • Onions: Do not give in quantities. A small bit every now and then will not hurt them but a lot will.
  • Chocolate: This is not good for your other pets either such as dogs and cats.
  • Citrus: This is a hot topic around the forums. Some say yes some say no. I have never know a chicken suffering from eating citrus.
  • Dry Beans: Cooked is ok, but not dry!
  • Rotted or food with mold: I would not eat it for obvious reasons and your chickens don’t need it either.

So, remember, if some of this gets mixed up in your scraps that is ok. Just do not feed them these things daily. Remember to read the article on Table Scraps to get a lot more information on this subject!

How much do I feed my chickens and how can I fatten them up?

If you want to learn “How To Fatten Your Chickens” you will need to purchase or make some good feed with lots of protein and minerals that are good for them.

What do Chickens eat 4_optHow often do chickens eat? Well, most chicken owners leave feed out for their chickens all day. Over time you learn how much they will consume in a day and then this can be measured daily. The chickens need fresh water along with daily feed. The water needs changed daily, at least a couple of times each day. Chickens are no different than any other animal who needs fresh clean water.

Your chickens are your pets and responsibility and they need you to take care of them. The type of feed can be changed from time to time. Hens need oyster shells after they start laying. Scratch and corn are good but is just not a balanced diet with all the supplements they need. If they are not free range chickens they need grit left out for them daily also.

These are some things that I hope will help you in making your decision when deciding on purchasing your chickens for the first time. There is a lot of information on the internet about all of this and if you search you will find it. You can view a very good book on this here, A good resource in one book. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers..

We have lots of information on our blog here for your help and enjoyment. Please feel free to ask any questions and post them in our forum for our other readers to be able to help you with your questions or problems.

References I used to put this article together other than my own:

“Tilly’s Nest “

“Backyard Chickens “

“The Prairie Homestead “

If you have enjoyed our article on what do chickens eat, leave us a comment below. Have suggestions or things you would like to add? Post them here or in our “CHICKEN TALK FORUM”.

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