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What Can And Can’t Chickens Eat?

Last Updated: 25.02.24


Chickens don’t seem to be picky eaters, from the moment they come out of their chicken coop nesting box until they must be sacrificed. You have probably already thought about investing in a no waste chicken feeder to automate the way you supply your poultry with food. But what should you feed your chickens? Are there any foods they should never eat?


What should a chickens’ ideal diet contain?

Before delving into the details of what you should and shouldn’t feed your chickens, here are the basics for a perfect diet.

First of all, you need to ensure that your chickens have a plant-based source of protein. This is essential for them as it helps them grow big and strong. Also, your chickens should be able to get enough vitamins and minerals from the diet you’re feeding them so that they keep healthy.

Don’t forget that they should also get enzymes from food, which is essential for a healthy digestive system and proper absorption of nutrients. Fats are also required in small quantities as they are necessary for the adequate functioning of specific internal organs. Chickens have no reason not to eat carbs, as these are a vital source of energy.

Chickens love and can eat vegetables

As mentioned earlier, plant-based protein is necessary for a chickens’ diet. That’s why you should not shy away from giving your chickens plenty of veggies. For instance, they seem to like tomatoes a lot, and that’s a good thing. An excellent source of vitamins C, K, and B9, tomatoes are full of antioxidants and great for keeping healthy chickens.

Chickens won’t mind if you feed them small treats containing broccoli or asparagus. Potatoes, despite some myth circulating online right now, are safe for your chickens, and they also love them. For tomatoes and potatoes, you should remember not to feed your chickens the leaves, flowers, or other parts of the plant, because these are poisonous.


They are huge fans of fruits

Chickens won’t need any convincing when you want to feed them some bits of fruits. They love almost any fruit, and nearly all fruits are great for them. Bananas are on top of the preferences, which is a great thing since you won’t have to throw away those that have brown spots on them. Your chickens won’t be fussy and will devour any bananas you throw their way.

Strawberries are other fruits that chickens love. Apples are among the favorites, too, but make sure to remove the seeds. Chickens are also fans of blueberries and will eat such fruits in large quantities if allowed.

While chickens love fruits that are high in vitamin C, they are not big fans of oranges and pineapples. However, you should know that feeding them fruits that are too high in sugar is not good for their diet, so they are better off without them. Also, if you want to feed them raisins, use small quantities, for the same reason.


What other things do chickens eat?

Let’s take a look at other things you can feed your poultry without a guilty conscience. Grass is an excellent choice, but chop it a bit, as long strands won’t be easy to digest. Also, if you introduce grass to your chickens’ diet, make sure that it wasn’t treated with any chemicals in advance.

You can also feed them rice, but only cooked. Never feed your poultry uncooked rice as this will absorb humidity in the chickens’ intestines and can lead to blockages. Bread soaked in milk is a typical treat used for fattening up hens. However, you should use bread in moderation as a snack.

Some cheese and meat off the carcasses of other poultry can be fed to chickens, but only in moderation. Plant-based sources of protein are preferable. Fresh or dried mealworms can be introduced to a diet for poultry, but here, moderation is advised, once more, due to the high content of protein.

Are nuts okay?

For the most part, yes, but be aware of the high content of fat present in nuts. You should consider chopping the nuts before feeding them to chickens so that they can eat them. Another thing that you should remember is that nuts affected by mold should never be fed to chickens. Your poultry may end up developing respiratory problems.


What should you never feed your chickens?

Now that you have a good image of what a good diet for your chickens should contain, it’s time to talk a little about those things that you should always stay away from.

Uncooked beans are particularly dangerous for your chickens as they can cause blockages and other problems, even in adult chickens. While cooked beans can be fed to your poultry, it is better to be safe as even partially uncooked foods of this kind can cause issues.

Avocadoes are mainly a problem, and the skin and the stone can be poisonous for chickens. The flesh can be fed in moderation, but there is a toxin sometimes present in avocadoes called persin that is bad for chickens.

Chocolate can cause heart problems

If your hens notice a few flakes of chocolate fallen from the package of your sweet treat, they will eat them right away, and nothing terrible might happen. However, feeding your poultry chocolate is never a good idea. Chocolate can be so bad for chickens that cardiac arrest can install in less than 24 hours and death will occur.


Onions are unexpected troublemakers

While generally, chickens can feed on almost any fruit and vegetables, there are notable exceptions to this case. For instance, onions can be quite dangerous for your chickens, especially if eaten in large quantities. Something called hemolytic anemia can appear.

Eggplants are also an exception. Nothing from the plant, including the fruit, should be fed to chickens, although there are some who say that their poultry didn’t suffer from having a little bit of eggplant. Pickles and other processed foods should never be fed to hens, either, as they contain too much salt and sugar.




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