Shot of a happy young farmer feeding her flock of chickens while sitting in a field

What Chickens Can and Can’t Eat

You want your chickens to be happy and healthy. You know that natural, whole foods are good for them, but you also know that chickens will eat almost anything. So what can and should chickens eat?

What Do Chickens Eat?

A free-ranging bird will find its own forage, especially in warmer months. During winter, and for flocks without yard access, you’ll want to provide nutritional chicken feed. With scientifically proven options like Nature’s Best Organic Feeds®, you can make sure all of your chickens’ basic needs are met. Once you set your flock up for success, you can use healthy, whole foods to supplement their diet.

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What Can’t Chickens Eat?

Some food and drink items clearly don’t belong in the chicken coop, such as alcohol, chocolate and caffeine. Foods that aren’t good for humans are usually poor choices for chickens, so keep your birds away from processed foods. These items are loaded with sugar and salt, leading to obesity and electrolyte imbalances. Too much salt can cause heart failure. Mold can also be deadly, so chickens should never be given spoiled food. If you wouldn’t eat it, your birds shouldn’t either.

Leafy vegetation can also pose a danger. Tomatoes, peppers and potatoes are members of the nightshade family, so their leaves are toxic to many animals. Raw, green potatoes can carry this toxin in their skins, so while the flesh is safe, chickens shouldn’t be fed peelings.

Fortunately, there are many wholesome treats for chickens to enjoy, some including cucumbers, raspberries, and apples. Make sure any produce is organic or washed clean of harmful pesticides. Keep a bird’s diet balanced by limiting treat portions to a few pecks.

Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?

Absolutely! Chickens love this healthy snack. Packed with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, tomatoes make a great chicken treat. Just don’t let them eat the leaves or flowers. Most free-range birds know better — and would rather steal a yummy tomato off the vine — but you might consider fencing off tomato plants to protect your chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Peppers?

Yes. Like tomatoes, pepper plants are a healthy fruit. Chickens usually feel less enthusiastic about peppers.

Can Chickens Eat Carrots?

Yes. Carrots are full of nutrients and can be served raw or cooked. The greens are also healthy, but should be chopped for easy eating. Stick with fresh carrots, as the canned variety is high in salt.

Can Chickens Eat Cucumbers?

Yes. Cucumbers are an excellent chicken snack. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, these water-rich veggies make especially good treats during hot summers. Chickens can eat the cucumber skin as well, but often times they usually just eat the middle flesh of the cucumber.

Can Chickens Eat Cilantro?

Yes. This herb is great for building healthy bones and rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

Can Chickens Eat Lettuce?

Sometimes. Lettuce is generally good for your birds, but beware of the iceberg variety. Iceberg lettuce has little nutritional value and can lead to diarrhea. Stick with dark, leafy greens.

Can Chickens Eat Cabbage?

Yes. Cabbage is a great example of nutritional roughage for your birds. It can also provide entertainment. Tied on a line or packed in a container with holes, chickens can peck at cabbage for hours.

Can Chickens Eat Celery?

Sometimes. Celery is rich in folate, fiber and vitamins K and C. But it can cause digestive issues because it’s so tough and stringy. If you’re going to feed chickens celery, cut it into small, manageable pieces.

Can Chickens Eat Onions?

No. Onion can cause anemia and affect egg flavor.

Can Chickens Eat Pineapple?

Sometimes. Pineapple should be fed in moderation due to its sugar content.

Can Chickens Eat Blackberries?

Yes. These tasty treats are high in vitamin C.

Can Chickens Eat Blueberries?

Yes. Chickens love these healthy berries. You may see some unusual poop colors after this treat!

Can Chickens Eat Raspberries?

Yes. Raspberries are another favorite for poultry. Raspberries contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide healthy nutrients to chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Pears?

Yes. Pears are healthy and low in sugar, although not always a chicken’s first choice.

Can Chickens Eat Grapes?

Sometimes. Since they’re high in sugar, grapes should be fed in moderation. Stick with the seedless variety and chop them up to aid digestion.

Can Chickens Eat Apples?

Yes. Apples are a healthy snack. They should be chopped and cored when used for chicken treats. Since apple seeds contain traces of cyanide, try to remove them first. As an apple alternative, chickens also can eat applesauce.

Can Chickens Eat Peaches?

Yes. Chickens love this nutritious fruit. The pit contains some cyanide, so remove the pit first.

Can Chickens Eat Cashews?

Yes. Small pieces of unsalted cashews provide great healthy fats.

Can Chickens Eat Popcorn?

Yes. Plain, unsalted, unbuttered popcorn is a vitamin and fiber-rich chicken snack.

Can Chickens Eat Cheese?

Sometimes. Feed only small portions of cheese, since chickens struggle to process dairy.

Can Chickens Eat Bread?

Sometimes. Chickens love bread, but it has low nutritional content. Feed this treat sparingly.

Give Your Birds the Best With Nature’s Best Organic Feeds

The cornerstone of a strong flock is nutrition. There are plenty of natural, wholesome treats to supplement your chickens’ diet, and you want the core of that diet to be healthy, too.

Nature’s Best Organic Feeds are scientifically tested, non-medicated and non-GMO. With seven products covering chicks, layers, and broilers, every bag is certified organic and created with one goal in mind — to help you build a healthy, productive flock.

Visit your local Tractor Supply Co. and give your chickens Nature’s Best!

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