There are plenty of common foods we eat all the time that are yummy and beneficial to chickens too. Integrating various foods into your flock’s diet helps give them balanced nutrition and keep them healthy, plus feeding hens your food scraps that would otherwise go in the garbage saves money and reduces food waste.
Pam Freeman, author of the fabulous book Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics has shared her list of common human foods that are good for hens as well. Reach for any of these easily attainable foods the next time your chickens are feeling, well, peckish.
Common Foods That Can Be Eaten and Enjoyed by Your Flock
By Pam Freeman
This hen-tested list contains foods that are safe, healthy, and enjoyable for chickens to eat.
- Apples (it’s true that the seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient amounts to kill.)
- Asparagus (limit the amount; it can taint the taste of eggs.)
- Bananas (do not feed the peels.)
- Beets (plus greens)
- Bread (try to offer healthy bread to give your chickens for the biggest bang for their buck.)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Carrots (plus greens)
- Cereal (try to avoid sugary cereals, though.)
- Collard Greens
- Corn (most chickens especially love corn on the cob.)
- Eggs (hard-boiled eggs are yummy. Warm scrambled eggs are perfect on a cold morning.)
- Grains and Seeds (sunflower seeds can be given with or without the shell. You can purchase black oil sunflower seeds in bulk in the wild birdseed section of the store.)
- Grapes (you can even cut grapes in half for chicks.)
- Honeydew melons
- Meat (you can also give your flock the bones and they will pick them clean.)
- Nuts (avoid salted, seasoned, and sugared nuts.)
- Oats (cooked or raw oats are fair game.)
- Popcorn (leftover movie theater popcorn is great. Refill your bag as you leave the movie and make sure not to add butter or salt.)
- Potatoes (cooked)
- Radishes (including greens)
- Spinach (feed sparingly as too much can interfere with calcium absorption.)
- Sprouted seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Tomatoes (do not feed green tomatoes, leaves, or vines.)
- Yogurt (watch the flavors though. Try to stick with plain or natural flavors like strawberry, banana, or blueberry.)
Want to learn more about feeding hens the nutrition they need? Find out about herbs for hens.
Reprinted with permission from Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics by Pam Freeman © 2017. Published by Voyageur Press. Photography courtesy of Voyageur Press.
About the Author
Pam Freeman is the editor for both Backyard Poultry magazine and Countryside magazine. Her first book, Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics, is full of lessons for expanding your flock, keeping a rooster, understanding chicken behavior, adjusting for the seasons, keeping your chickens healthy, and more.
Do the vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, grits, seafood, etc) need to be cooked?
My chickens love watermellon, leftover rice, and leftover grits. Lol. They go insane over the grits!
Sorry, I am English….. Grits?
Like polenta, dried corn.
My mom would feed the chickens all kitchen scraps. cooked. Even ground up egg shells. they loved corn on the cob but went wild over oatmeal. just oatmeal & water mixed. Mom made sure we had healthy birds.
LOVED this article!!!! So helpful. I was questioning about raw grits and rice or cooked first?