Tips for Feeding Chickens

Chickens are omnivores; which means they will eat just about anything (regardless of if they are allowed too or not)! So what exactly should you be feeding your chicken?

Firstly, a chicken’s main source of nutrition should come from a high quality Laying Feed. After that they can enjoy a range of Natural, unprocessed foods as treats. Chickens, much like us will have their favourite treats and absolutely hate others. Only feed a chicken something you would be comfortable eating yourself.

What NOT to feed chickens

  • Potato – Raw and green potato and peels contain solanine which is toxic. Potatoes have a very low nutrition content anyway.
  • Salt – Could end up with salt poisoning, won’t take much as they have such little bodies.
  • Raw, undercooked, dried beans – Contains Hemaglutin which is very poisonous to birds
  • Avocado- Skin and seeds contain Persin which is toxic, best to avoid them all together
  • Raw Meat – Can contain parasites
  • Processed meat – They can’t digest it
  • Mould – Anything mouldy/off or questionable should be binned. Don’t risk it
  • Chocolate – Is poisonous to just about every animal including chickens
  • Lollies, candy, sweets, sugar – Very bad for their digestive system
  • Don’t leave food in the cages to go mouldy or spoil

In Moderation

  • Garlic & Onion – Low nutritional content and high volumes can affects the taste of eggs
  • Cooked meat and seafood – No salt or sauces or heavy oils
  • Citrus – Too much can cause diarrhoea in chickens
  • Sweet Potato/ Cooked potato – Low nutritional value, risk of poisoning if not fresh
  • Breads/Pasta/Rice – Wholemeal is best, small quantities, no mould (stale is fine)
  • Dog and Cat food – Doesn’t meet the nutritional requirements of a chicken but can be used as a small treat

Fruit

  • Give anything a try – Remove seeds/stones first (especially apples and apricots)
  • Cut them in half, they want the juicy flesh not the skins
  • Frozen watermelon/melon makes a refreshing treat in summer
  • Seedless grapes are often a favourite
  • Juicy, Seasonal fruits tend to be a big hit – Mango, Strawberry, cherry

Vegetables

  • Give everything a go! (both cooked and raw)
  • You may need to cut or section things so that they can really get into it
  • Hang up cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach in cages for some exercise and fun
  • Corn is often a big favourite, especially if still on the cob! But they will eat it canned, removed from the cob
  • Lettuce (in all varieties) is a good treat, however they don’t love it all the time.
  • Pumpkin seeds and flesh is often a favourite

Other

  • Oats can be fed both raw and cooked. Warm cooked oats make a nice treat on a cool winters morning
  • Cereal can make a nice treat, just make sure there is a low sugar content (not froot loops or coco pops etc)
  • Natural Plain yoghurt is ok, keep away from flavoured yoghurts due to processed sugar and flavourings (stand back it will make a mess)
  • Eggs should be cooked
  • Popcorn should be popped, natural and free from butter, salt, oil and flavourings
  • Bugs of all descriptions are a big favourite. Mealworms, crickets, spiders etc
  • Other grains suitable for chickens can also be used as a treat. They can be cracked, rolled or whole and includes; corn, sunflower, wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, milo etc
  • Spouts – if grown correctly wheat sprouts make a nice treat for your hens
  • Plants are also another big favourite, make sure that they aren’t on the dangerous list and pick away – or let them run wild through your gardens and they will find their favourite in no time
  • Herbs both planted and picked can be given to hens for a tasty treat

Chicken’s do not understand the concept of nutritional value, a chicken will eat till they are full regardless of what it is they are actually eating. This is why it is important to offer a complete and balanced laying formula as their main source of food.

Complete meal leftovers can be given as long as they don’t contain any hidden nasties. For example a batch of left over fried rice may be given to chickens, along with some fruit salad, however the coleslaw and salad premixed with thick dressing is not suitable.