A comprehensive list of foods chickens CAN and CANNOT eat.
Are you looking for something other than traditional chicken feed to give to your chickens? It’s time to step outside of the same old mundane diet of dried pellets and spice up your chicken’s diet.
You can serve them up with all kinds of different foods to entertain them, enhance their feed diet, and to just plain ole spoil them.
If you’re curious about what types of chicken feed to give to your brood, read our article “Types Of Chicken Feed.”
So, What Exactly Can Chickens Eat And Not Eat?
It would take hours of research and reading on the different foods chickens can and cannot eat. For the sake of saving you time, we’ve compiled one of the most comprehensive lists of foods that are safe to feed to chickens. We’ve also included foods that are waving red flags that you should stay away from!
So have a seat, relax, and let’s peruse all of the different food options for your feathered babies.
Foods That You CANNOT Give To Your Chickens.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way before we go over foods that are safe to feed to chickens. It goes without saying that processed foods (junk food) are a big No-No for chickens. Junk food is high in sugar/carbs, salt, and chemicals that can be toxic/harmful for poultry of any kind.
For the sake of your feathered pets, you need to know what foods will kill chickens as well as what foods are poisonous/toxic for chickens.
Highly Toxic – can be fatal
|NEVER give chickens dry beans.
Beans that are fully cooked are an excellent source of protein for your chickens. Boiling them for 10 minutes or more reduces toxins.
|Avocado Skin & Pit
HIGHLY Toxic – can be fatal
|The avocado’s flesh is okay to give to your chickens but avoid giving them the skin or pit.
|Salt and Salty Foods
Toxic – can be fatal
|Sodium (salt) is required in the diet of chickens. However, too much salt causes salt poisoning.
Foods that fall in this category are nuts, chips, crackers, ham, pork, and more.
Toxic – can be fatal
|You should NEVER allow your chickens to eat or drink anything that contains caffeine. This includes coffee, coffee grounds, tea, tea grounds, and chocolate.
|Citrus Fruit Peel and Seeds
|There’s a lot of debate in the poultry industry about the safety of citrus. Many chicken owners give their chickens small amounts of the fruit’s flesh.
HIGHLY Toxic – can be fatal
|You should NEVER allow your chickens to consume raw nightshade plants.
|Eggs||Eating eggs (raw or cooked) doesn’t pose any danger for chickens. However, eating eggs should be discouraged because chickens will begin eating the eggs in the nesting boxes.|
|Plants (Toxic)||Before you plant something, make sure it’s safe for your chickens.
There are numerous common plants, flowers, and vegetables lurking in a yard that are toxic to chickens.
Onions fall within these toxic plants.
|Rhubarb is safe for chickens in minimal amounts. However, large portions are toxic.
|Seeds and Pits of Fruits
HIGHLY Toxic – causes death within a few minutes after ingesting
|Fruit seeds/pits are one of the most dangerous things to feed a chicken.
Foods That You CAN Give To Chickens.
Now that we have the red flag foods behind us let’s look at foods that you can give to your chickens.
Also, if you’re looking for some frozen treats to cool your flock down when it gets hot outside, read our article on frozen chicken treats here.
Dairy (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, plain yogurt) can be given to your chickens in moderation. Chickens aren’t able to properly digest dairy products and easily end up with diarrhea, or other digestive issues.
Nuts and Legumes
|Adzuki Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Anasazi Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Black Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Blackeyed Peas||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Chickpeas||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Corn||Offers no nutritional value|
|Kidney Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Lentils||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Mung Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Navy Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Oats/Oatmeal||Cooked is easier to eat|
|Pea Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Pine Nuts||Finely chopped|
|Pinto Beans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
|Rice||Only Cooked (wild or brown)|
|Safflower Seeds||Finely chopped|
|Soybeans||Only Cooked (never raw)|
Fruits and Veggies
We recommend organic produce to reduce the risk of any residual pesticide left behind. If you don’t have access to organic, be diligent about thorough washing all produce before giving to your chickens.
|Apple||Seeds are Toxic (Remove)|
|Apricot||Pit is Toxic (Remove)|
|Cherries||Pit is Toxic (Remove)|
|Peaches||Pit is Toxic (Remove)|
|Pears||Seeds are Toxic (Remove)|
|Plum||Pit is Toxic (Remove)|
|Potato||NEVER feed raw, must be cooked|
|Any cooked meat EXCEPT ham. (it’s loaded with salt)||Cut into tiny morsels|
|Cat or Dog Food (dry/wet)|
|Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Chicken DVM contains a list of other plants which are a danger to chickens.
Here’s The Breakdown…
The Last “Cluck…”
There’s no more asking, “What can chickens eat and not eat” because you are armed and ready with a list!
Although the lists above are comprehensive, there may be a few foods not listed. Don’t feed anything to your chickens if in doubt. Read up on it first, then feed.
You can get as creative as you want in feeding different things to your chickens as treats.