What you should know about giving treats to your chickens

Favorite Treats for Chickens

A lot of people want to know what do chickens eat? One thing is treats. Chickens absolutely love to eat treats–most treats. Some they don’t like, but more important, did you know that some treats are good for chickens and others can be dangerous?

For example, while chickens love potatoes, you should only provide them with cooked potatoes and for sure avoid any green peelings—just like for people.

  • watermelon
  • green beans
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • potatoes
  • celery leaves
  • meal worms
  • oatmeal
  • carrots
  • apples
  • bananas
  • cauliflower
  • yogurt
  • milk (especially clabbered milk)
  • Worms
  • meat (cooked or not)
  • the mouse you caught in a trap (not poisoned!)
  • leftovers

Really just about anything! Chickens are omnivores meaning they eat meats, fruits and veggies.  There’s very little chickens won’t eat.

Meat including chicken!!!

Okay it’s a bit creepy, but not really.  Chickens are carnivores and will eat any and all meat—even raw!  Some people mix a bit of raw hamburger in their food for extra protein. Great for encouraging laying, especially in winter.  They also love scrambled eggs (or any type of eggs although I suggest cooked and not raw as this will allegedly encourage egg eating).  It’s not unusual for chickens to catch mice or lizards and here at Flip Flop Ranch, we also provide fly larvae for our chickens to eat.


Good for them, but unless it’s grass or weeds they tend to be uninterested—for example, your leftover salad from dinner. Worth a try but you may have cleanup duty afterwards. I’ve had chickens that absolutely love it and chickens that turn up their beaks.  You’ll just have to try and see.

Seasonal treats

Hot Mash is great in the winter. This is when you take soaked lay pellets mixed with things such as rice, corn, oatmeal, raisins and really just anything that mixes together well and you have on hand.  It’s a nice way to keep your girls going through a cold winter night.

On a really hot day, some people make ice treats.  For example, fill your ice cube tray with peas, sunflower seeds, corn, fruit and anything else chickens may like.  Top off with water, freeze and then toss some ice cubes to them.  It helps keep them hydrated and cool.

I usually raise pumpkins which store really well and the chickens eat these all winter long.  If you carve out a pumpkin for halloween, store the ‘guts’ in a freezer bag and then toss the frozen block out to them.

What your chickens shouldn’t eat

As mentioned earlier, chickens shouldn’t eat raw or green potatoes/peelings. Also while cat food is fine and can be helpful in mounting because of the high protein content, it is also high in Methionine.

Methionine is good and essential, but it is very toxic in excess and too much can kill your birds. Don’t be afraid to give cat food to your chickens, but only a handful per bird and not a huge free fed bowl of it.

Salt is also toxic in too high of doses so avoid salty foods. With a chickens small body, it’s easier for them to get overloaded.

Dried or undercooked beans contain a poison called hemaglutin which is toxic to chickens.

Avocado skins and pits have low levels of toxicity.

Any junk food is as bad for you as it is for your chickens.

What are some of your chickens favorite treats?

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