Healthy Treats for Chickens - A Handy Guide


Chickens are true omnivores. They are not vegetarians. When left to their own devices as they have been for generations on family farms, they will seek out a wide variety of weeds, grasses, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables....and yes even 'meat' or protein, usually in the form of bugs, slugs and worms. But woe to the lizard, snake, mouse or toad that ventures into a chicken run. Farm chickens have also been known to drink fresh cow or goat milk.

As with humans, a varied, healthy diet will lead to healthy chickens. While their layer feed should comprise the majority of their diet and always be fed first thing in the morning to ensure the chickens are filling up on that, later in the day, a few 'treats' won't hurt. Offer a wide variety, feed everything in moderation, and choose from this list to be sure your chickens are eating what they need in order to stay healthy and lay nice, beautiful eggs.

Vegetables including -
Beans (fresh or cooked, dried beans contain a toxin and should never be fed uncooked)
Beets/beet greens
Broccoli, raw or cooked
Brussels sprouts, raw or cooked
Cabbage
Carrots/carrot tops
Corn/Corn on the cob (fresh, frozen or canned)
Cucumbers
Garlic
Kale/collards 
Lettuce (preferably romaine or any type other than iceberg which doesn't have much nutrition)
Parsnips
Peas, fresh raw or cooked 
Pumpkins, raw or cooked (seeds especially are good)
Radishes (vegetable and greens)
Spinach (in moderation, too much can interfere with calcium absorption)
Sprouts (mung bean, alfalfa, broccoli, wheat berry etc)
Squash, flesh, skin and seeds, raw or cooked
Sweet potato leaves, vines and peels (no white potato, it is part of the nightshade family and can be toxic)
Tomatoes, fully ripe, no green ones and not leaves or vines
Turnips
Zucchini

Fruits including -
Apples/Applesauce
Apricots
Bananas (peel them and discard the pesticide-laden skins unless the bananas are organic)
Berries
Cherries
Cranberries
Grape halves
Melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew - cut in half)
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Pomegranates (cut in half)
Raisins

Note: many stone fruit pits contain trace amounts of cyanide. Probably not a problem, but if in doubt, skip the pits/seeds from apricots, apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums.

Grains, nuts and seeds including -
Bread (in moderation - whole wheat, whole grain or oatmeal is more nutritious than white)
Cheerios or other whole grain, non-sugar cereal
Grains - millet, oats, quinoa and others, cooked
Nuts (unsalted)
Oatmeal (raw or cooked)
Pasta, cooked (in moderation, no butter or salt, and again, whole wheat is more nutritious)
Popcorn (air popped, unsalted, no butter) 
Rice, cooked (brown is more nutritious than white)
Seeds - safflower, sunflower, sesame etc.

Meat and proteins including -
Beef, ground - cooked or raw
Crickets
Earthworms
Eggs, scrambled or hard boiled
Fish (skin and flesh, cooked)
Grubs 
Lobster, cooked (as if, I mean our chickens are spoiled but lobster!) 
Mealworms
Meat scraps, including steak, cooked pork, lamb, chicken or turkey, bones and carcasses okay
Shrimp and shrimp shells, cooked

Dairy including - 
Cheese 
Cottage cheese 
Milk
Plain yogurt 

note: chickens can't digest the milk sugars, so dairy products should be fed in strict moderation

Herbs including -
Basil
Bay leaves
Borage
Catnip
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel
Garlic
Ginger
Lemon Balm
Marjoram
Mint
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme

Weeds and flowers including -
Bee balm
Calendula
Chamomile
Chickweed
Clover
Dandelions
Echinacea
Lavender
Marigolds
Pansies
Nasturtium
Roses
Squash blossoms
Sunflowers
Violets 

So next time you clean out your fridge, have garden trimmings or kitchen leftovers, put some aside for the chickens!

(Nothing too salty, sugary, fried. Nothing moldy, although stale or wilted is fine.  For a complete list of potentially toxic foods read HERE.)




BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST BETTER WITH CHICKENS!


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7 comments:

  1. May I ask the name of the breed of those beautiful light gray chickens featured in the last photo of this blog? And in your expert opinion, would they be suitable for Wisconsin winters?

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  2. Three different breeds if you can believe that! Top is an Andalusian - not suited for the cold with her smallish body and large comb. Middle is a Lavender Orpington - perfect for Wisconsin and bottom is a Blue Copper Marans - also good for cold climates.

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  3. What about Kombucha scobys? I'm thinking the probiotics would be great for them?! Thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. Yes I believe some do feed scoby to their chickens. I don't personally but yes the probiotics are so beneficial.

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  4. I have seen chickens grab voles right out of the ground and swallow them..makes me wonder why they label some eggs vegan or "only fed a vegetarian diet". If that true then those birds NEVER go outside and their "area" is kept bug free..wonder how they do that?

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    Replies
    1. Aah, a very savvy consumer you are! Yes, commercial egg farms market vegetarian-fed chicken eggs as if that's somehow a good thing? Chickens are meant to eat bugs and worms and proteins. And yes, I believe to be labeled as such that means they NEVER step foot outside ever - I've also read that organic eggs are laid by chickens who never go outside either since grass and bugs are not certified organic. How insane is that? Just another reason to raise your own chickens.

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  5. kristy schemrichJuly 3, 2015 at 9:12 PM

    Hi, I was wondering, are peppers ok for chickens? I noticed they were not on the good or bad list.

    ReplyDelete

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