One of the most common first questions first time chicken owners ask us is how to feed their new flock. So, just what can chickens eat? Read on to find out about what and how to feed your feathered friends…
Can chickens eat bananas?
Absolutely! Bananas are an eggcellent source of nutrition for your girls! Extremely high in vitamins A, C and B6, they also contain magnesium, iron, niacin, as well as other essential trace elements. And the best part? Most hens simply love them – so it’s a great idea to feed your chickens bananas!
Can chickens eat grapes?
Yes – in moderation. Grapes are another cracking source of vitamins A and C, as well as the vitamin B, complex, and also contain important trace elements such as copper and calcium. However, they’re also eggstremely high in sugar, so make sure you only give small amounts to your girls, once a week. It’s also important to roughly chop them first, so your flock can digest them more easily.
Can chickens eat apples?
Yes. Your girls can eat apples and apple sauce too. It’s best to chop them to aid digestion although you may notice that they will peck at windfalls. Apple seeds do contain small amounts of cyanide, so try to remove them if possible.
Can chickens eat tomatoes?
Absolutely -chickens love them! And they’re super healthy too, high in antioxidants, fibre and potassium, as well as vitamins C, K and B9.
Can chickens eat strawberries?
In moderation. Strawberries are full of health-giving goodness like vitamins A, C and B9, as well as an anti-inflammatory component called quercetin. They are also high in sugar though so think of them more as an occasional treat for your girls.
Can chickens eat mushrooms?
Again, in moderation. Provided they are not of a poisonous variety(!) chickens can eat mushrooms, although too many may upset their stomachs.
Can chickens eat lettuce?
All kinds except iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce could end up giving your girls upset stomachs, but all other types are a healthy treat.
Can chickens eat celery?
Yes, and it’s another choice that’s really good for them, containing loads of useful vitamins and minerals. They don’t love it though, so try chopping it up really small to make it more acceptable!
Do chickens eat grass?
Yes, just make sure that the grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals and is cut into short strands. Long grass can cause crop impaction if eaten, a condition where the chicken’s crop becomes blocked and food digestion is restricted.
Can chickens eat cucumbers?
Cucumbers are a super healthy treat for your girls, full of vitamin and minerals. They also contain antioxidant properties and are a full of water so great for keep your flock hydrated!
Can chickens eat blackberries?
Yes, chickens can eat blackberries and they tend to really enjoy them!
Can chickens eat rice?
It depends! Can chickens eat cooked rice? Yes. But never, ever feed your girls uncooked rice as it can expand in their stomachs, causing blockages or even perforating the intestines. Opt for brown or wild rice if possible – white rice has very little nutritional value.
Can chickens eat cheese?
In moderation. Cheese is actually a great source of protein and calcium, but please remember that your hens can’t process protein very well so only give it to them in small amounts.
Can chickens eat peppers?
You can feed your flock the fruit but it’s by no means a favourite! Definitely do not feed them the leaves, plants or flowers which contain poisonous compound solanine, also found in the green parts of potatoes.
Can chickens eat blueberries?
Chickens love blueberries, which is great news as they’re full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
Can chickens eat potato peelings?
Chickens can eat potato peels – and potatoes – as long as you make sure never to feed them any green parts, which contain the poisonous chemical solanine. Leaves, flowers and plants should be avoided, as they can be poisonous to chickens.
Can chickens eat raisins?
In eggstremely small amounts! There is some evidence to suggest that feeding your girls too many raisins could cause them to get kidney failure. While not conclusive, it’s definitely cause enough to limit their raisin consumption to an occasional treat. They are also high in sugar so could risk causing obesity if you feed your chickens too many.
Can chickens eat oranges?
They can but they don’t tend to like them! Oranges are super healthy for chickens but, generally, they’re not fans of this zestiest of fruits. Try adding them to fruit salads to ensure your flock get to gain from their health benefits.
Can chickens eat melon?
In moderation. Chickens love melon. They can eat the flesh and seeds and pick at the rind. Just don’t risk giving them too much or they could get diarrhoea.
Can chickens eat peas?
Absolutely! Peas – and pea pods – are a healthy snack for chickens.
Can chickens eat mealworms?
Chickens can eat both fresh and dried mealworms, which are especially good when they’re moulting. Do feed them in moderation as they’re high in protein.
Can chickens eat cauliflower?
Cauliflower is a healthy food for chickens, who will eat the stems and the leaves.
Can chickens eat raspberries?
Yes! Chickens can eat raspberries.
Can chickens eat kiwi?
Kiwis are a healthy treat, although high in sugar so be sure to feed in moderation.
Can chickens eat asparagus?
They certainly can! Although anecdotal evidence suggests they don’t tend to like it that much. If you can get your girls to peck on this healthy snack, make sure they don’t have too much, as it can taint the taste of their eggs.
Can chickens eat mango?
Yes, chickens can eat both the flesh and the skin of mangoes.
Can chickens eat plums?
In moderation. Plums are high in sugar so don’t give the girls too much! Try to remove the seeds however, as they contain traces of cyanide,
Can chickens eat beetroot?
Yes! Chickens can eat both beetroot and beetroot leaves.
Can chickens eat cherries?
Cooked and uncooked cherries (make sure there’s no added sugar) are high in minerals and vitamins A, C, E and K. They also contain choline, which is essential for chickens’ health.
Can chickens eat kale?
Absolutely! Kale is incredibly healthy for chickens!
Can chickens eat parsnips?
Yes, although they’re not a favourite. Grated or chopped parsnips may be preferred by your flock.
What can’t chickens eat?
There are so many different things that chickens can – and should – eat, that it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that chickens can eat pretty much anything. However, that’s definitely not the case, and there are many things that you should never, ever give to your teeny feathery friends. Here are some specific foods to avoid:
Can chickens eat avocado? It’s best avoided. While they *can* technically eat the flesh of the avocado, the skin, leaves and stone contain a chemical called persin which is highly toxic to chicken so to be safe, it’s best to consider avocados a no-no!
Can chickens eat rhubarb? No! Both the stem and the leaves contain oxalic acid, which can be deadly for your flock.
Chickens shouldn’t eat onions as large amounts can cause hemolytic anaemia, a condition which destroys red blood cells.
As well as the specific things listed above, there are some general rules you should follow when feeding your flock. In general, avoid:
- Food which is high in refined sugars. Just like they can cause obesity in humans, they can in chickens too.
- Salty foods – your girls cannot digest large amounts of salt and too much can even kill them.
- Mouldy food – just as you shouldn’t eat mouldy food, neither should your feathery friends. Many types of mould are extremely toxic!
- Anything with caffeine – caffeine is toxic to chickens, even in small amounts.
- Chocolate and alcohol – they may be favourites for us humans, but they should never be given to chickens.
Remember, we are absolutely NOT saying feed your chickens food waste. That would go against the Animal and Plant Health Agency guidelines and advice – you can read those here.
How much do chickens eat?
The average hen eats 1.5 lbs of feed per week – slightly more in winter, slightly less in summer. Bigger birds will consume more than the smaller ones.
They can be fed at intervals throughout the day or you can hang the feeders all day where the hens can peck at them whenever they wish. Hanging the feeders is probably the easier choice and it’s also a great way to prevent the more dominant birds “bullying” the others out of food! Just make sure you have more than one feeder if you have over six birds and that you space them far apart. That way a bully hen can’t guard both!
And don’t worry hens aren’t generally overeaters, so you’re unlikely to see them pecking away all day.
Where do chickens eat?
Whether from the feeders hanging up in the coop, or scattered feed while roaming in their pen, (or free), your girls will happily peck away wherever the food is. The key is to make sure that wherever they eat is a safe, happy and comfortable environment.
Are you a veteran chicken keeper with wisdom to share? We’d love to know what you feed your girls! Or maybe you’re considering owning chickens for the first time and have a burning question? Pop on over to the ChickenGuard Facebook profile to get in touch-our wonderful community will be happy to hear from you!
Here at ChickenGuard we’re passionate about all things poultry. Our mission is to protect chickens against predators with our high quality, innovative products- guaranteeing chicken owners lasting peace of mind.
And here we’re summarised all that into a What Can Chickens Eat infographic.
Click this link to download the infographic as a PDF – What Can Chickens Eat Infographic