One of the most frequently asked questions first time chicken owners ask us is how to feed their new flock.
Just what can chickens eat?
Read on to find out about what and how to feed your feathered friends…
Can chickens eat bananas?
Absolutely! Bananas are an eggcellent source of nutrition for your flock! Extremely high in Vitamin A, C and B6, they also contain magnesium, iron, niacin, and other essential trace elements. Most hens simply love them – so it’s a great idea to feed your chickens bananas!
Can chickens eat grapes?
Yes, but in moderation. Grapes are another source of Vitamin A and C, as well as Vitamin B complex that chickens are eggcited for, and also with important trace elements of copper and calcium. However, they’re also eggstremely high in sugar, so make sure you only give small amounts to your chickens once a week. It’s also important to roughly chop them first, so your flock can digest them more easily.
Can chickens eat apples?
Yes, chickens can eat apples and apple sauce too! It’s best to chop them up to aid digestion. Apple seeds do contain small amounts of cyanide, so try to remove them if possible.
Can chickens eat tomatoes?
Absolutely – chickens love them! They’re super healthy and high in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and Vitamins C, K and B9.
Can chickens eat strawberries?
Chickens are able to eat strawberries in moderation. While they are full of health-giving goodness like Vitamins A, C and B9, as well as an anti-inflammatory component called quercetin, strawberries are high in sugar and should be more of an occasional treat for chickens.
Can chickens eat mushrooms?
Another one that’s good in moderation! Ensuring that the mushrooms are not poisonous, chickens are able to eat mushrooms, but too many might upset their stomachs.
Can chickens eat lettuce?
Lettuce is a-ok, except for iceberg lettuce! Iceburg lettuce usually ends up with an upset stomach for chickens, but all other types are a nice, healthy treat.
Can chickens eat celery?
Yes! Celery is an excellent choice for chickens as it’s packed with useful vitamins and minerals. However, chickens themselves aren’t a huge fan of it, so try chopping up the celery for more smaller, peck-sized pieces.
Can chickens eat grass?
Yes! It’s important to make sure that the grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals though! Make sure the grass is also cut into short strands as long grass can cause crop impaction if eaten (a condition where the chicken’s crop becomes blocked and food digestion is restricted).
Can chickens eat cucumbers?
You know it! Cucumbers are super healthy for chickens, full of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidant properties. Since they’re also full of water, cucumbers also help keep your flock hydrated.
Can chickens eat blackberries?
Chickens can eat blackberries and tend to really enjoy them.
Can chickens eat rice?
It depends! Chickens can eat cooked rice, but uncooked rice is an easy no-go. Uncooked rice can expand in chicken stomachs, causing blockages or even intestine perforation. Opt for brown or wild rice if possible – white rice has very little nutritional value.
Can chickens eat cheese?
Chickens can eat cheese in moderation. As a great source of protein and calcium, cheese provides some essential dietary needs for your flock. Just know that chickens are unable to process protein very well, so make sure to only serve cheese in small amounts.
Can chickens eat peppers?
You can feed your flock peppers, but it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Do not feed them the pepper leaves, plants or flowers which contain the poisonous compound solanine.
Can chickens eat blueberries?
Chickens love blueberries – a fruit that’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
Can chickens eat potato peelings?
Yes, as long as you make sure to never feed them any green parts as they contain the poisonous chemical solanine. Leaves, flowers and plants should always be avoided as they can be poisonous to chickens.
Can chickens eat raisins?
In eggstremely small amounts! There is evidence that suggests raisins as the source for kidney failure in chickens, so it’s best to either serve as an occasional treat or to avoid them altogether. Raisins are also high in sugar so feeding chickens too many can also cause obesity.
Can chickens eat oranges?
Yes! Oranges are super healthy for chickens, but they typically don’t like them. Try adding them to fruit salads to ensure your flock will eat them.
Can chickens eat melon?
In moderation. Chickens tend to love melons and can eat the flesh, seeds and pick at the rind. Giving too much melon can lead to diarrhea, however.
Can chickens eat peas?
Absolutely! Peas and pea pods are a healthy snack for chickens.
Can chickens eat mealworms?
Chickens can eat both fresh and dried mealworms, which are especially good for when they’re moulting. It’s best in moderation as they’re also high in protein.
Can chickens eat cauliflower?
Absolutely! Cauliflower is a healthy food for chickens, and they’ll eat both the stems and the leaves.
Can chickens eat raspberries?
Yes, chickens can eat raspberries!
Can chickens eat kiwi?
Kiwis are a healthy treat in moderation for chickens as they’re high in sugar.
Can chickens eat asparagus?
Most definitely, but they tend to not like it as much. If you can get your chickens to eat asparagus, make sure to limit it to small amounts as it can taint the taste of their eggs.
Can chickens eat mango?
Yes! Chickens can eat both the flesh and the skin of mangoes.
Can chickens eat plums?
Plums can be fed to chickens in moderation as they are high in sugar. Try to remove plum seeds as well as they contain traces of cyanide.
Can chickens eat beetroot?
Yes! Chickens can eat both beetroot and beetroot leaves.
Can chickens eat cherries?
Definitely! Cooked and uncooked cherries (make sure there’s no added sugar) are high in minerals and Vitamins A, C, E and K. They also contain choline which is essential for chickens’ health.
Can chickens eat kale?
Absolutely! Kale is incredibly healthy for chickens.
Can chickens eat parsnips?
Yes, but they’re not a favorite. Grated or chopped parsnips might make your flock more inclined to eat them.
What can they NOT chickens eat?
As there are so many different things that chickens can – and should – eat, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they can eat pretty much anything. However, there are still many things that chickens should never eat, so please keep in mind to avoid these foods:
Avocado – While they can technically eat the flesh of the avocado, avocado skin, leaves, and contains persin, a chemical that is highly toxic to chickens. It’s better to be safe, so it’s best to avoid avocados altogether!
Rhubarb – Both rhubarb stems and leaves contain oxalic acid, a deadly component for your flock. Absolutely avoid rhubarb for your chickens.
Onions – Onions can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition which destroys red blood cells in chickens. For the sake of your flock’s health, avoid onions in their diets.
Food which is high in refined sugars. Just like they can cause obesity in humans, they can in chickens too.
Salty foods as chickens cannot digest large amounts of salt. Too much can even kill them!
Moldy food – Just as you shouldn’t eat moldy food, neither should your feathery friends. Many types of mold are extremely toxic!
Anything with caffeine – Caffeine is highly toxic to chickens, even in small amounts. Please avoid!
Chocolate and alcohol should never be given to chickens.
How much do chickens eat?
The average hen eats 1.5 lbs of feed per week – slightly more in winter, slightly less in summer. Bigger birds will consume more than the smaller ones.
Chickens can be fed at intervals throughout the day or you can hang feeders so the hens can peck at them whenever they wish.
Hanging the feeders is probably the easier choice as it’s also a great way to prevent the more dominant birds “bullying” the others out of food. Just make sure you have more than one feeder if you have over six birds and you space them far apart.
Hens aren’t generally overeaters, so you’re unlikely to see them pecking away all day.
Where do chickens eat?
Whether it’s from the feeders hanging in the coop or a scattered feed while they’re free roaming, your flock will happily peck away wherever the food is. The key is to make sure that their eating area is a safe, happy and comfortable environment.
If you’re a veteran chicken keeper with wisdom to share, we’d love to know what you feed your chickens! Or maybe you’re considering owning chickens for the first time and have a burning question? Pop on over to the ChickenGuard Facebook profile to get in touch with our wonderful community. We’ll be happy to hear from you!
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And here we’re summarised all that into a What Can Chickens Eat infographic.