What are the best treats for my chickens? What can I safely feed my chickens?

Let’s look at some common chicken treats and what makes them good for you (your wallet) and your chickens!

1. Food scraps

Low waste, low cost, and tons of fun! What could be better? Chickens are omnivores, so they can even eat thier own eggs, egg shells, and chicken meat scraps. On our farm we save those chicken scraps and eggs for the dogs, but the rest is fair game! Chickens are especially attracted to bread products, squash family vegtables, and anything red including watermelon, tomatoes, and strawberries. My 2 year old is learning how to cut the tops off from his own strawberries and he loves going out to feed the chickens afterwards. Summer BBQ watermelon rinds are also a hit for guests, yobirung and old, to watch the chickens enjoy! We especially like to feed pumpkin guts to our birds in the fall. Feeding those squash and pumpkin seeds have a few extra perks. Pumpkin seeds can help keep your birds pest free, they act as a natural dewormer. Pumpkin seeds also carry essential minerals and have the added bonus of the possibility of your chickens replanting some for you. Every year here thanks to the pigs and chickens we have access to free volunteer squash plants that grow and go right back to the livestock, what a wonder of nature!

2. Grass

If you aren’t free ranging or pasture raising your chickens you may want to consider adding that grass you just mowed to your chicken pen. Chickens will eat grass and they will also pick through the pile hunting for bugs and seeds. They will also mix these greens into thier pen along with thier poop and food scraps, like a self mixing compost bin!

3. Dried mealworms, crickets, etc

Have you ever seen a chicken go crazy over bugs? Live or dried they love them! For a good reason too, bugs are a great protein addition to feed. The main downside to buying bugs online or at your local feed store is that it can wear down on your wallet.

Aaron has a video below testing out mealworms with some of his laying hens.

Other options for dried bugs include crickets, “trail mix” for chickens, and beetles.

4. Fresh Caught Bugs

Check out these reusable japansese beetle traps: https://amzn.to/3yRI8S4

Lots of homesteaders are trying the japanese beetle traps. There are so many reasons this is better than purchasing dried bugs. Chickens are more motivated to eat the living and moving bugs over the dry. The traps can be reusable so the cost is lower. Then there is the added bonus of protecting your garden from the beetles and contributing to the control of an invasive species. 

5. Scratch Feed

Scratch feed is easy to find and avalible at most local feed stores. It is a classic chicken treat and generally inexpensive (unless you want organic of course). This is a treat that encourages your chickens to scratch at the ground, especially if they have already cleared thier pen. We have found it most exciting to set up games for our birds mixing scratch feed with other treats, such as grass clippings, giving the chickens a little more work to get to thier treat.

6. Sunflowers

When you plan your garden in the spring do you think of the treats you’ll be able to feed your chickens? Sunflower heads that have gone to the seeding stage are a fantastic treat for your birds, similar to pumpkins which have the added bonus of your birds “replanting” the seeds themselves. You get to enjoy a beautiful flower garden, take photos with a sunflower backdrop, and then feed the seeds to your chickens at the end of the season. Everybody wins!

Free Chicken Coop Plans

Become a member of the free chicken coop plans library and also gain access to other perks like the How To Build a Barn Ebook and course.

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