What Can Chickens Eat, Anyway?

As backyard chicken enthusiasts, we all want to make sure our feathered friends are well-fed and healthy. But with so many different foods out there, it can be tough to know what’s safe and nutritious for chickens to eat.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the best foods for chickens, along with some important tips to keep in mind.


Before we discuss further, we just want to make this quick point: this blog is run by backyard chicken enthusiasts. We strive to provide accurate and reliable information in this blog, but please remember we’re sharing our personal experience as chicken owners. Our shared experience should not be considered a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

The Basics of Feeding Chickens

Before we dive into specific foods, let’s talk about the basics of feeding chickens. First and foremost, it’s important to provide your birds with a balanced diet that includes all of the nutrients they need to thrive.

In general, a good commercial feed that’s designed for chickens should meet most of their nutritional needs. However, it’s also important to supplement their diet with healthy treats and snacks to keep them happy and engaged.

When it comes to feeding chickens, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Always make sure chickens have access to clean, fresh water.
  • Provide food and treats in a clean container to reduce the risk of disease.
  • Offer grit or other small stones to help chickens digest their food.
  • Avoid feeding chickens anything that’s spoiled or moldy.
  • Make sure your birds have plenty of space to move around and forage for food.

Fruits and Vegetables

Chickens love fruits and vegetables, and these healthy treats can be a great way to supplement their diet. Some of the best fruits and veggies for chickens include:

It’s important to note that while most fruits and veggies are safe for chickens, some should be given in moderation. For example, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons can be too acidic in large quantities and may cause digestive issues.

Grains and Seeds

Chickens also love grains and seeds, which are a great source of carbohydrates and other nutrients. Some of the best grains and seeds for chickens include:

Chickens also love seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, which can provide a healthy source of fat and protein.


Proteins are essential for chickens to grow and maintain healthy feathers and egg production. While commercial feed often contains enough protein, it’s also important to supplement their diet with additional sources of protein.

Some of the best sources of protein for chickens include:

  • Cooked meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc.)
  • Cooked fish
  • Cooked eggs
  • Insects (mealworms, crickets, etc.)

In general, it’s best to avoid feeding chickens raw or uncooked meat, as it can pose a risk of disease. We’d also recommend staying away from other animal food, such as dog food.

Dairy and Other Treats

In addition to fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins, chickens also love other treats like yogurt, cheese, cracked corn, and even cooked pasta. These treats should be given in moderation, as they can be high in fat and salt.

But we would avoid sweets like cookies, as they hold no nutritional value.

Overall, the key to feeding chickens is to provide a balanced diet that includes all of the nutrients they need to thrive, along with healthy treats to keep them happy and engaged.

Learn more about how you can feed chickens without buying feed here. And if they’re eating their own eggs, read this.

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