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Feeding Hens with Kitchen Scraps

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.

Chickens love kitchen scraps

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.55 common foods from the kitchen for hens

  1. Apples (it’s true that the seeds contain cyanide, but not in sufficient amounts to kill.)
  2. Apricots
  3. Asparagus (limit the amount; it can taint the taste of eggs.)
  4. Bananas (do not feed the peels.)
  5. Beets (plus greens)
  6. Blackberries
  7. Blueberries
  8. Bread (try to offer healthy bread to give your chickens for the biggest bang for their buck.)
  9. Broccoli
  10. Brussels Sprouts
  11. Cabbage
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Carrots (plus greens)
  14. Cereal (try to avoid sugary cereals, though.)
  15. Cherries
  16. Collard Greens
  17. Corn (most chickens especially love corn on the cob.)
  18. Cranberries
  19. Cucumbers
  20. Eggs (hard-boiled eggs are yummy. Warm scrambled eggs are perfect on a cold morning.)
  21. Fish
  22. Garlic
  23. 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.)
  24. Grapes (you can even cut grapes in half for chicks.)
  25. Grits
  26. Honeydew melons
  27. Kale
  28. Lettuce
  29. Meat (you can also give your flock the bones and they will pick them clean.)
  30. Nuts (avoid salted, seasoned, and sugared nuts.)
  31. Oats (cooked or raw oats are fair game.)
  32. Parsnips
  33. Pasta
  34. Peaches
  35. Pears
  36. Peas
  37. Plums
  38. Pomegranate
  39. Popcorn (leftover movie theater popcorn is great. Refill your bag as you leave the movie and make sure not to add butter or salt.)
  40. Potatoes (cooked)
  41. Pumpkins
  42. Radishes (including greens)
  43. Raisins
  44. Rice
  45. Seafood
  46. Seeds
  47. Spinach (feed sparingly as too much can interfere with calcium absorption.)
  48. Sprouted seeds
  49. Squash
  50. Sweet potatoes
  51. Tomatoes (do not feed green tomatoes, leaves, or vines.)
  52. Turnips
  53. Watermelon
  54. Yogurt (watch the flavors though. Try to stick with plain or natural flavors like strawberry, banana, or blueberry.)
  55. Zucchini

Watermelon: a treat for chickens


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 and friend

Pam Freeman is the editor for both Backyard Poultry magazine and Countryside magazine. Her first book, Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basicsis full of lessons for expanding your flock, keeping a rooster, understanding chicken behavior, adjusting for the seasons, keeping your chickens healthy, and more.

Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics by Pam Freeman



  1. 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.


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