Generally speaking, chickens are considered low-maintenance birds that can be easily raised for profit or for your personal consumption. However, apart from building them comfortable chicken coop nesting boxes to lay their eggs, you must also pay attention to their diets, so don’t forget to check it out here for a complete list of foods you should offer your birds and the feeders you should place them in.
If you’re new in the field of raising chickens and are worried about your birds’ diet, chances are you’ll find a lot of confusing information on the Internet. It seems that everyone has an opinion when it comes to the right feed to offer your chickens, so how do you know which sources to trust?
These birds are known for eating almost everything, including human foods, so there shouldn’t be too many concerns regarding their daily diet. However, if you have doubts regarding certain ingredients, you can either ask a vet or other professional breeders. Keep in mind that each chick is different, meaning they won’t all have the same tastes.
What to feed your chicken
As we’ve previously mentioned, chickens can eat a lot of foods, including table scraps and human foods as long as they aren’t processed. As a general rule, your bird’s daily diet should consist of high-quality poultry pellets, table scraps, and fruits and veggies.
About two-thirds of the chick’s daily food must be pellets. You can either opt for counter food or make your own recipe and create a unique blend of ingredients that are delicious and nutritious. The good thing is that you can play with quantities the way you want, as long as your chicken receives every necessary ingredient for healthy growth.
A high-quality pellet mix should contain maize, wheat, sunflower seeds, oats, and a touch of salt. No matter if you choose a commercial product or decide to make your own mix, you need to pay attention to the quality of the ingredients. Try to provide high-quality feed made with organic, local-based ingredients if you can. The feed should be rich in proteins as well.
Keep in mind that a quality feed will help your chickens grow strong and lay more eggs. We cannot stress enough the importance of using non-GMO, organic ingredients, especially if you want to further eat the meat of the chickens.
What about table scraps?
No chicken diet would be complete without some delicious table scraps. As a general rule, chickens will have almost every type of food you’re eating, so it’s quite easy to keep them strong, healthy, and full.
You can offer your birds almost anything from rice, oats, pasta or wholemeal bread. Some chicks will even enjoy popcorn and pizza. The idea is to avoid processed foods and those that are rich in salt. Moreover, you should also stay away from sweets.
Fruits and veggies
Chickens will also enjoy some juicy and fresh fruits or vegetables. These foods can be fed daily and they not only represent delicious snacks but are also packed with vitamins and minerals to keep your chickens healthy.
Apples, peeled bananas, berries, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, eggplant, seedless grapes, carrots, Brussel sprouts, raisins, cooked potatoes, peppers, watermelon, lettuce, melon, squash, cooked turnips, tomatoes or pomegranates are only a few of the vegetables and fruits recommended for your chicken. All of them are safe and can be fed daily within reasonable amounts.
These foods should only be fed in combination with pellets and shouldn’t replace grains entirely.
What not to feed your chicken
Even though chickens will enjoy a wide variety of cooked and uncooked meals, there are certain ingredients considered dangerous that shouldn’t be part of their daily diets.
Dried beans are considered dangerous and even deadly for chickens if they are not thoroughly cooked before. They contain a toxin that won’t disappear completely by just soaking the beans in warm water or cooking them in a slow cooker.
If you want to introduce this ingredient in your chick’s diet, you should previously soak it in cold water for at least five hours. After that, the beans should be rinsed and put into boiling water for cooking for 10-15 minutes. Once properly cooked, they can be integrated into any home-cooked recipe and served to your chicks.
When it comes to avocado, the opinions of professional breeders and veterinarians are different. While some discard avocados completely, others mention that only some parts of the fruit shouldn’t be fed to your chicken. The truth is that the skin and the seed inside the fruit are potentially poisonous for chickens, while the actual flesh is good in moderation.
Avocado is considered a superfood and is rich in good fats, so you may consider feeding your birds a few slices once in a while.
Green potatoes and tomatoes also contain toxins that are not altered by cooking, meaning they will still harm your birds if you feed them. The toxin is named solanine and can cause paralysis. Thus, under no circumstances, your chickens should receive green tomatoes or potatoes.
It goes without saying that processed foods, salty foods, spicy ones or desserts should be avoided completely.
Chocolate can cause heart problems in birds, while salty foods can lead to kidney failure. Other fruits like lemons and oranges should also be avoided as they contain too much acid.
Can chickens have eggs?
We did mention that chickens can pretty much eat any type of human food, but are eggs really safe for consumption? Sure, they are full of calcium and proteins, but some breeders prefer looking for alternative sources of proteins.
Cooked or boiled eggs, just like meat can be fed to your chicks once in a while as they contain a rich source of proteins and help them grow strong and healthy. However, raw eggs shouldn’t be fed under any circumstances as it may encourage chicks to eat their own eggs.
Therefore, it is up to you if you include these ingredients in your birds’ diet or prefer opting for alternative sources of proteins, including dirt worms and vegetable proteins.