Your guide to feeding human foods to your chicken and answering the question: can my chicken eat that?
If you like giving your chickens some human food every now and then, you might yourself wondering about specific items. If you let them free-range, you’ll notice that they eat everything from frogs to your garden, and they aren’t too picky.
Before we dive into individual food guidelines for your birds, I’d like to encourage you to not get too uptight about feeding them human food. It’s a great way to lower your feed costs, they like it, and you’re very unlikely to hurt them by feeding them anything from your kitchen.
(If your flock free ranges, they are getting into all kinds of things and balancing out any treats you give them with greens and insects. This is one of the best things about free-range chickens.)
🐓 As a general rule, chickens can eat almost every human food, with a few exceptions. Some foods will affect egg flavor in large quantities, and very few (avocado skins, coffee grounds, and potato skins) can be toxic. 🐓
Foods Chickens Should Not Eat
There are a few foods that chickens should not eat, as they can be toxic. These include:
- avocados (skin and pit, the flesh is fine)
- rhubarb leaves
- citrus fruit peels and seeds
- potatoes skins
- onions in large amounts
- uncooked beans of any variety
- kidney beans (even cooked)
- coffee grounds
- fatty foods in large amounts
The complete list of what foods you can and can’t feed your backyard chickens
Can chickens eat acorns?
Yes, in small amounts. They contain tannins which can be harmful in large quantities. If you let yours free-range, you could consider removing acorns from your property, but in all honesty, they don’t seem to like them that much anyway.
Can chickens eat apples or apple seeds?
Chickens can eat apples, but should not eat apple seeds as they contain trace amounts of cyanide. Some say that apple cores contain enough cyanide to kill birds if eaten in large quantities – but the specific amount is still debated. You should remove seeds from apples before giving them to your flock and just feed them your own apple cores, a few at a time.
Can chickens eat avocado?
Yes, avocado flesh is fine. But the skin and pit and not good for them. However, you should only give your chickens small amounts of avocado, as it is high in fat. Why are you feeding this to your chickens anyway, it’s expensive!
Can chickens eat bananas or banana peels?
Yes, chickens can eat both bananas and banana peels.
Can chickens eat bell peppers?
Yes, chickens can eat bell peppers. The flesh and seeds of bell peppers are safe for chickens. Bell peppers are safe for chickens but not green bell pepper leaves and plant stems. Leaves, stems, and plants of bell peppers contain toxic solanine which is harmful to chickens. (Although they are unlikely to want to eat them anyway.)
Can chickens eat bird food or wild bird seed?
Yes, chickens can eat birdseed or wild birdseed. In fact, they love it! However, it’s important to note that this is not a balanced diet for chickens and should only be considered a treat. Chickens are not as diverse in their diet as wild birds, so they need a variety of other food sources to stay healthy.
Can chickens eat blueberries?
Yes. Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, which help keep your chickens healthy. They also contain plenty of Vitamin C, which can help boost your flock’s immune system.
Can chickens eat bread?
Yes, they love all baked goods. Ours will eat stale bread, pizza crusts, and anything else. But like with any treat, feed in moderation.
Can chickens eat broccoli?
Broccoli is a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for chickens. Additionally, broccoli is high in antioxidants, which can help protect your flock from disease.
Can chickens eat cabbage or cabbage leaves?
Yes, chickens can eat cabbage. Cabbage contains goitrogenic agents which interfere with the normal production of thyroxine, but it seems that regular amounts are safe. Other foods that contain goitrogenic agents include soybean, rapeseed, kale and turnips. But in reality, a small amount is unlikely to do any harm. The leaves of cabbage and broccoli are safe for chickens to eat.
Can chickens eat cantaloupe or cantaloupe seeds?
Yes, chickens can enjoy cantaloupe seeds. All parts of the fruit including rind, flesh and seeds are a favorite treat for chickens. If you one that’s overripe or have too many in your garden, cut it in half and let them feastt. The rule of thumb for fruit pits is that if it’s a stone fruit, pit or seed can contain toxic levels of cyanide. Melons are fine.
Can chickens eat carrots or carrot tops?
Yes, chickens can eat carrots and carrot tops! In fact, they are a great source of nutrition for your backyard flock. Chickens can eat both raw and cooked carrots as well as carrot tops, leaves, and greens. Carrots are healthy for chickens and provide them with essential nutrients like vitamin A.
Can chickens eat cauliflower?
Yes, chickens can eat cauliflower. However, it’s important to note that cauliflower contains goitrogenic agents, which can lead to avian goiter and immune deficiency. There is limited information on cauliflower and chickens, so feed in moderation.
Can chickens eat celery?
Celery is a low-calorie vegetable that is high in water content. It also contains vitamins A, B6, C and K, as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Celery is also a good source of dietary fiber.
Can chickens eat cheese?
In fact, they love it! Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium for chickens.
Can chickens eat cherries or cherry pits?
Yes, chickens can eat cherries and cherry pits. Cherries are a high-nutrient snack for chickens, providing vitamins A, C, E and K as well as choline. Cherries in uncooked forms should be free of added sugar. Cherries are a good source of nutrients without being too high in calories. You should not feed chickens cherry pits because they contain cyanide and can be harmful to them.
Can chickens eat chicken?
They absolutely WILL eat it, but you might feel weird about this. Cooked chicken is the one thing I will not feed our chickens. They will also eat other poultry, such as ducks or geese.
Can chickens eat chocolate?
No, skip the chocolate. It’s not recommended that they eat a lot of it as it can be harmful to their health. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are stimulants. Too much of either of these substances can cause chickens to become hyper and have trouble breathing.
Can chickens eat citrus fruits?
Yes, it’s fine. Only feed citrus peels in limited quantities, but citrus fruits are fine.
Can chickens eat cranberries?
Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C and other antioxidants. They also contain fiber, which can help keep your chickens’ digestive systems healthy.
Can chickens eat cucumbers?
Yes, they love them. Like melons, they’re a favorite treat. Cucumbers are a good source of vitamin A and C as well as potassium. They also contain antioxidants that can benefit chickens’ health.
Can chickens eat cottage cheese?
Yes, and they love it!
Can chickens eat dog food or cat food or rabbit food?
Some people may be wondering if it’s okay to give their chickens dog food, cat food, or rabbit food. The answer is yes–chickens can eat all of these foods. However, don’t intentionally feed it to them instead of chicken feed. But if they get into it (ours often eat our barn cat’s food), it’s no big deal..
It’s important to remember that each pet has different nutritional needs, so it’s best to feed poultry on a diet that is tailored to their individual dietary needs. Otherwise, you could throw off their nutrition levels and this could lead to health complications down the road.
Can chickens eat eggs?
Yes, scrambled eggs and crushed eggshells and fine and healthy for them. But be careful not give them whole eggs or they’ll develop a nasty habit of eating their own raw eggs, which is obviously a terrible trait in laying hens.
Can chickens eat grapes?
Yes. Grapes are a good source of Vitamin C and other nutrients for chickens.
Can chickens eat green beans?
Yes, chickens can eat green beans. All cooked beans are safe for chickens to consume except kidney beans because these contain toxins that can be harmful or fatal in large amounts.
Can chickens eat lettuce?
Yes. Lettuce is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and it’s also high in water content, which makes it a good choice for chickens on hot days. Chickens will enjoy eating different types of lettuce, so feel free to mix things up occasionally.
Can chickens eat meat?
Yes, and free-ranging chickens will eat a lot of it. They will eat frogs, mice, small snakes, and thousands of insects.
If you want to feed them cooked meat from your table scraps, that’s totally fine as well.
Can chickens eat mushrooms?
Chickens enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, so adding mushrooms to their diet is a good way to add some variety. But (obviously) be sure to only give your chickens mushrooms that you know are safe for them to eat; some mushrooms can be toxic.
Can chickens eat oats or oatmeal?
Yes, it’s another favorite of theirs. We often give cooked oatmeal to them that our kids haven’t finished.
Can chickens eat peaches?
Yes. In addition to peaches, chickens will enjoy just about any other stone fruit. But don’t give them the pit.
Can chickens eat peanuts or peanut butter?
Yes, chickens can eat peanuts and peanut butter. In fact, peanuts are a great source of protein for your backyard flock. However, it’s important to feed them in moderation due to their high fat, carbohydrate, and protein content.
Can chickens eat pears?
Yes. Pears are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
Can chickens eat peas?
Yes, they love peas. Chickens love fresh fruits and vegetables, and peas are a good source of protein and Vitamins A and C. Feeding your chickens peas will help keep them healthy and happy.
Can chickens eat pineapple?
Yes, chickens can eat pineapple. The fruit is a good source of Vitamin C and contains other nutrients that are beneficial to chickens, such as potassium, magnesium and manganese. Additionally, chickens enjoy the sweetness of pineapple.
Can chickens eat plums?
Yes. But remove the pit first.
Can chickens eat popcorn?
Yes, popcorn is fine. Popcorn is a good source of fiber and protein for chickens. It also contains some essential minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus.
Can chickens eat potatoes? What about raw potatoes?
Yep, cooked or raw and both fine.
Can chickens eat potato peels or potato skins?
Yes, chickens can eat a small amount of potato peels and potato skins. However, they do contain small amounts of toxic chemicals, so don’t overdo it. This goes for sweet potato skins as well.
Can chickens eat pumpkin or pumpkin guts or pumpkin seeds?
Yes, chickens can eat pumpkins. In fact, it’s very healthy for them. The seeds of the pumpkin are a natural dewormer and will act best if they’re eaten raw.
Can chickens eat raisins?
Yes, but they are a treat. While raisins are not poisonous to chickens, they should not be a part of their regular diet. Raisins are high in sugar and can cause weight gain and other health problems in chickens.
Can chickens eat rice or cooked rice?
Yes, chickens can eat cooked rice. However, you should only give it to them in moderation as too much can cause health problems. Chickens also enjoy other cooked grains like brown or wild rice, which is a better option than white rice. While rice is safe for chickens, it is high in carbohydrates and low in protein, so it should not be a staple of their diet.
Can chickens eat shrimp?
Yes, any cooked meat is fine and they’ll enjoy it.
Can chickens eat spinach?
Yes, all greens (except rhubarb leaves) are good for chickens. In fact, spinach is a great source of nutrition for chickens and is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron and other minerals. Spinach also contains antioxidants which can help protect your flock from disease.
Can chickens eat strawberries or strawberry tops?
Yes, chickens can eat strawberries and strawberry tops. In fact, they are packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that help your chicks stay healthy. Strawberries contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium and Vitamin B.
Can chickens eat sunflower seeds?
Yes, chickens can eat sunflower seeds! Sunflower seeds are a great source of protein, and they also have essential fatty acids that help keep chickens healthy. Additionally, sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which is important for maintaining the health of your flock.
Can chickens eat sweet potatoes?
Yes, chickens can eat sweet potatoes. In fact, they’re a great source of nutrition for your backyard flock! Sweet potatoes are high in starch content and low in sugar levels, making them a great choice for chickens after eating processed food like grains and vegetables. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese.
Can chickens eat tomatoes or tomato leaves or green tomatoes?
Yes, chickens can eat tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes are safe for chickens to eat, and they contain a substance that is safe for them. However, green tomatoes, tomato leaves and plant stems are toxic to chickens and should not be fed to them.
Can chickens eat walnuts?
Walnuts are on the list of foods to avoid because they contain a toxin that can be harmful to chickens.
Can chickens eat watermelon or watermelon rind or watermelon seeds?
Yes, chickens can eat watermelon. Watermelon is a juicy fruit that is hydrating for the birds and a nice treat on a hot day.
Can chickens eat zucchini?
In fact, they love it! Zucchini is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and it’s low in calories. It’s also high in water content, which makes it a refreshing snack for chickens on a hot day.
Choosing healthy chicken treats
As you can see, you can feed your chickens almost everything. That doesn’t mean it’s all super healthy for them. Humans can eat bread and potatoes all day, but i’s not healthy for us either.
Here is a list of some of the best foods for chickens:
- Insects: Chickens love to eat insects! They especially like grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.
- Seeds: Chickens enjoy eating sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and millet.
- Fruits: Chickens love to eat apples, bananas, cherries, grapes, and strawberries.
- Vegetables: Some good vegetables for chickens include broccoli, carrots, celery, corn on the cob, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.
So what’s the ideal chicken diet?
That’s really a matter of opinion. If you let your chickens free range, feed them a commercial chicken feed, and give them table scraps, they’ll be doing just fine.
Chickens love to eat a variety of things, but they should have a mainly balanced diet. Feed them scratch grains, like oat groats, wheat berries and corn, to give them some variety. They’ll also love kitchen scraps. Supplement their diet with oyster shell grit to keep their beaks healthy and provide them with plenty of clean water at all times.
What about homemade chicken feed?
You can also make your own chicken feed at home. This is a great way to save money and ensure that your chickens are getting the best possible diet.
Does feeding chickens human food affect egg production?
No, it shouldn’t. As long your chickens are getting enough water, food and sunlight, they should lay eggs.
How Many Treats Should You Feed Them?
Chickens love treats, and giving them a little bit each day will make them happy and healthy. Make sure to only give them food that is safe for them to eat, and avoid giving them too many treats, which can make them sick. Chickens are very smart animals, and they will appreciate all the tasty treats you give them!
We keep a bowl on the counter of table scraps and deliver them to them every time we go outside.
The bottom line
Chickens can eat just about everything, from fresh fruit to pumpkin seeds. Give them treats in moderation, and you don’t need to worry.