Chickens aren't fussy. In fact, they're quite the opposite as they'll try to eat just about anything. Being omnivores they'll have a go at anything in your backyard from insects to fruits to your vegetation.
In the wild chickens explore, forage, and find their sources of various nutrients. But, in the backyard, they rely a lot more on what we give them!
Chickens need adequate protein, carbohydrates, and balanced nutrients such as calcium and other vitamins. This is all formulated into their layer pellets or seed mixes, so you can be confident that your chicken is getting the nutrition it needs for its busy days.
Although the majority of the chicken's diet should consist of layer pellets or a layer-seed mix feeding chickens table scraps as a treat once or twice a week is a no-waste solution that's absolutely safe and healthy for your chooks. Chickens will eat fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, herbs, oats, wholegrains, seeds, and other safe table scraps. They can eat most different types of table scraps so long as it's always in moderation.
Fresh or frozen fruits are a great source of vitamins and fiber for your chickens. Packed for their overall immunity, health, and wellbeing. Just don't go overboard with citrus fruits, as too much acid and sugar can upset their digestion. Chickens love any fruits from berries to mangos and they're all generally safe to consume in normal amounts.
Vegetables are a perfect way to boost your chicken's health. Take a few types of vegetables and fruits, chop them up into bite-sized pieces and feed them to your flock once or twice a week.
Herbs provide a variety of benefits for your chickens, even in small doses. Simply chop up half a cut of your spare herbs and sprinkle it in the garden or over some table scraps for a good nutritional boost for your chooks.
Oats are a great source of simple carbohydrates for your chickens. Good for energy, growth, egg production, and general health.
Wholegrains themselves as well as wholegrain bread and pasta are perfectly safe and healthy for your chickens to have. I wouldn't feed them bread or pasta every day as it is considered a treat and is otherwise high in energy and gluten.
Seeds are well-balanced and are always healthy for your chickens. Instead of layer pellets, you can actually rely on a quality seed mix to provide all the protein, nutrients, calcium, and energy chickens need to thrive and lay regularly. Otherwise, just sprinkle a handful of flax seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, etc. in with your table scraps for added health!
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, cabbage, rocket, etc. are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and other vital nutrients that your chicken will be thanking you for. Chickens don't quite love these as much as fruits, but adding a leafy green to any table scraps will boost its nutritional value!
A cooked scrambled egg is absolutely safe and healthy for your chickens to eat. It's loaded with good proteins which will help the chicken's muscles and is great for egg production. You can even crush up the eggshells, mix them with some wholegrain bread and milk for a healthy calcium boost for their egg strength.
Root vegetables like radish, beetroot, and sweet potato all come with a host of benefits for your backyard chickens. From the roots to the vegetable to the leaves and stem, these vegetables are a perfect table scrap or substitute to add to your chicken's diet.
Feeding your chickens mealworms or other dried insects usually cause a backyard frenzy with every chicken for themselves. They absolutely love them, and they are filled with protein and other vitamins. Worms and insects should always be given as a rare treat as otherwise your chickens will just fill up on them and will hold back on consuming more balanced foods.
Just like anything in life, it's all about balance. When it comes to the diets are chickens, luckily they're rather forgiving. Nonetheless, it's important to ensure your backyard chickens are getting every bit of nutrients they need for proper egg production, health, and well-being.
This way they can continue being the beautiful squawky fluffy-butted friends we all love.
As a rule of thumb to follow, you should always ensure your chickens are getting 85-90% of their diet from their regular chicken feed, whether it's in layer pellets or a carefully constructed seed mix. These pellets and mixes are specially formulated to allow a chicken to thrive, providing enough protein, calcium, nutrients, vitamins, and energy for a chicken's health and wellbeing.
However, once or twice a week a meal of table scraps and a tossing of a few treats in the backyard will be perfectly safe and actually beneficial for your chicken's health. Different fruits and vegetables contain important nutrients that the layer pellet mix might not have as much of. So think of it like you're providing a nutritious health boost for your backyard buddies.
Try to avoid too much 'unhealthy' food in your chicken's table scraps, like bread or other starches, processed foods, or too much sugar or salt.
Although chickens usually do a good job at only eating foods that are safe for them, you do need to take some precautions to look after your flock.
Here are the foods that are either toxic or unhealthy for chickens to have in their diets:
If consumed in small amounts some of these foods may be totally fine for the chicken to have. But, because they either contain toxins or are simply unhealthy for your chickens they should be avoided.