A chicken feeder is a great way of feeding your girls as it will allow them to eat in a structured manner and you to observe how much food they really need. Just toss some handfuls of feed in there and watch the fighting commence. Of course, if your birds are mild and well-mannered, there will be no fighting and everybody will get to eat.
Even though most people know how to feed them, they still frown at the question of “What to feed them?” Many chicken owners like to use them as a sort of garbage disposal and throw pretty much anything their way when it comes to food. While these birds have earned this reputation, treats that are high in sugar can still be damaging for them.
For this reason, you should pay attention when you want to toss them grapes, cake and so on. While not harmful if you only give them a few, everything should be done in moderation as a fat rooster or hen is not a great situation for their health or for your egg production.
Separating Fact From Fiction
It’s true that it can sometimes be fun feeding your chickens anything and everything. Sometimes we love them so much that we just want to give them plenty of treats, even though some may not actually be good for them.
People who grow plants, especially, like to treat their birds with some green produce. But we’re sure that as you’ve watched them run around you’ve asked yourself if sweet food like grapes, strawberries, blueberries and things like these are good for them.
Truth: Chickens make great garbage disposals. The reason for this is because they will eat almost anything you put in front of them, fruit included. For instance, berries are a perfect example because they are soft and small enough that they can eat it in one bite.
Another truth is that chickens know what food is good for them and they love eating it. In this situation, berries are full of vitamins and beta-carotene so they’re a great choice, in moderate amounts.
False: Chickens are supposed to eat fruits. That is completely false information and potentially dangerous for your birds. When it comes to grapes, it has been established that they can indeed eat grapes in small amounts as it will cause them no harm but you should not overdo it.
Furthermore, your birds will get spoiled and will oftentimes refuse their normal food if they grow accustomed to the tasty stuff. If this happens, you’ve given yourself quite a problem as it may prove quite hard to get them back to eating feed again.
As we said, don’t be surprised to find out there are things chickens should really not eat. We know people who admit they feed their birds anything and that some of them are even addicted to junk food.
Other than that, you will come to see over time that your chickens even have individual preferences, so it’s quite difficult to know their tastes beforehand. They love nature and eating out, so anything that includes grass, weeds, flowers, and bugs is perfect for them. They’ll also eat plants, pasta, and cooked rice should you choose to offer them this.
Worms are considered a delicacy usually since they have a lot of protein but some of your girls will not touch them, regardless of what you tell them. Many chickens love apples but won’t eat cucumbers, while others hate apples but go crazy for grapes. The main thing is not to worry, as you will learn what they love over time, and don’t spoil them too much when it comes to food.
If you really want to offer them grapes, it’s strongly advised that you choose seedless ones. While chickens can and will eat the ones with seeds, they might hurt their beaks or even choke, since they cannot chew their food and simply swallow it.
Don’t worry about the possibility of certain fruits having larvae in them, as this will simply be a “two treats in one” kind of deal. The bugs will never survive the chicken’s stomach due to the high pH there, so you’re in the clear when it comes to this.
Another tip is to slowly introduce a new food in their diet. If you really want to diversify it and don’t trust the commercial feeds, offer a small amount at first and watch how they react to it. Are the chickens sleepy after eating? Does their poop turn extra runny, red, or blue? Do they get grumpy or, on the contrary, talkative? These are all signs, so pay attention and decide.
What Not To Feed Your Chickens
Take into consideration that maybe finding out what your chickens can eat is easier after documenting yourself on what your chickens cannot eat. Here are a few foods you really want to keep away from your birds to ensure they live a long and healthy life.
Apples are really bad since their seeds contain arsenic. Even if one apple only contains a small quantity of it, the more the seeds are consumed, the closer you get to that lethal dose. They would have to eat a lot of apples to reach it but still, don’t risk it. Offer apples only sparingly.
Citrus fruits have given birth to quite the debate within the chicken community. Even though the opinions are separated, very few scientific studies contain evidence about these fruits being harmless while quite a few have found them to contain limonene which was proven to be a toxic compound for your girls.
Chocolate and candy are always a no-no. It’s a known fact that it’s toxic to dogs due to the compound theobromine and it is believed this also applies to poultry. It’s really not good for them and you should never do it.
Since you shouldn’t eat green potato skins, why should your chickens? These skins contain solanine which is a toxic substance, even though it goes away when properly cooked. However, why go through the hassle when there are tons of easier, tastier alternatives?
While cooked beans are great for your chickens because they have a lot of natural substances, dry ones are another thing entirely. Dried beans contain hemagglutinin, a substance widely-regarded as harmful for chickens, even life-threatening.
As we said earlier, junk food isn’t good for you or your chickens. The chemicals, the sugar, the sodium are all terrible and could really affect your and their health in the long-run. While your body may be equipped to deal with moderate consumption of this, never make your birds go through this.
Another thing to avoid is moldy or rotten food. This is common sense actually, because if you wouldn’t eat it, why should they? Even if they’ll eat it because they’re chicken and that’s what they do, it’ll really make them sick.
End Of Story
The moral of this story is that even though chickens will eat anything and everything perishable that’s not cardboard or paper, you should really practice your qualities as a good owner and ensure they get an adequate diet.
Even though you can throw in some grapes, blueberries, and other fruits like these, don’t interrupt their main diet as they will not thank you for it!