Article Main Points

What Do Chickens Eat?Chickens are omnivores, eating a variety of plants and insects. It’s important to provide a balanced mix of nutrients for their health.
Wild Chicken DietWild chickens diet is made up of seeds, insects, small animals, and plant matter. Their diet can inspire the feeding of domesticated chickens, but the nutritional needs may differ.
Everyday Chicken FeedThe main diet of domesticated chickens is usually commercial feed, also known as complete feed. These come in different forms like pellets, crumbles, or mash.
Feeding Chicks vs AdultsBaby Chicks and adults have different nutritional needs. Starter feed for chicks is higher in protein, while adult chicken feed is balanced for overall health.
Feeding For Egg LayingHens need extra calcium to lay eggs with strong shells. This can be provided through feed designed for laying hens, or supplements
Feeding Frequency and PortionA grown chicken usually consumes between 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of feed per day. Feed should be offered at the same time each day.
Free Range ForagingFree range foraging can supplement a chicken’s diet and provide exercise. Chickens enjoy eating bugs, worms, weeds, grass, seeds and more.
Chicken TreatsTreats can include fruits, vegetables, grains, insects, and specially formulated chicken treats. Treats should only make up around 10% of their diet.
Fermented FoodFermenting chicken feed can improve digestion and immune health. It makes nutrients more bioavailable and boosts amino acids and probiotics.
Kitchen ScrapsKitchen leftovers can add variety to a chicken’s diet and reduce food waste. Avoid sugary or salty foods and know which foods are toxic to chickens.
Foods to AvoidCertain foods can be poisonous or harmful to chickens, such as chocolate, avocado, and raw or undercooked beans.


What Do Chickens Eat?

Oh, the joys of raising chickens! From collecting fresh eggs to enjoying their delightful company, backyard chickens bring a certain charm to our lives. But what do chickens eat? In this guide, we’ll take a peck at the ins and outs of what to feed to your chickens to ensure your flock stays healthy and happy.

Let’s tackle the big question: what do chickens eat? It might surprise you, but chickens are omnivores, which means they eat a wide variety of plants and insects alike. While their diet can be quite varied, it’s essential to provide a balanced mix of nutrients to keep their feathers looking fabulous and their eggs top-notch.

Chicken Eating


What Do Wild Chickens Eat?

Let’s take a trip to the wild side! Wild chickens natural diet consists of a wide variety of seeds, insects, small animals, and plant matter. It’s important to remember that while wild chickens can inspire us in raising our backyard flock, the nutritional needs of domesticated chickens might differ due to their different lifestyles and purposes (e.g., laying eggs).


Everyday Chicken Feed for Poultry – Complete Feed

The mainstay of a domesticated chicken’s diet is usually commercial feed also known as complete feed. These feeds come in different forms, such as pellets, crumbles, or mash, and are formulated to meet the specific nutritional requirements of your birds.


Feeding Chicks vs Feeding Adults

Chicks and adults have different nutritional needs, so it’s essential to choose the right feed for their stage of life. Starter feed for baby chickens is typically higher in protein to support their rapid growth, while adult feed contains a balanced mix of nutrients for overall health. As your chicks grow, you’ll gradually transition them to adult feed – talk about a rite of passage!


Feeding Laying Hens

Egg-Laying hens have unique nutritional requirements to support their egg production. Opt for a feed designed specifically for layers, which typically contains extra calcium to promote strong eggshells. You can supplement regular chicken feed with crushed eggshells to get a calcium boost. Oyster shell is another excellent source of calcium. The crushed shells are available at feed stores, and you can offer them in a separate container or mix them into your chicken’s feed.  Happy hens lay happy eggs – it’s a win-win!

Layer Feed


How Much Do I Feed Chickens and How Often Do I Feed Them?

Portion control isn’t just for humans; it’s essential for chickens, too! Depending on factors such as breed, size, and activity level, adult chickens usually consume between 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of feed per day. Adjust as needed, and remember to provide clean, fresh water at all times. As for feeding frequency, chickens love routine – so aim to offer food at the same time each day.


Free-Range Foraging opportunities

Allowing your backyard hens to free range for a few hours a day is a great way to supplement their diet, reduce feed costs, and provide entertainment and exercise. They enjoy foraging for bugs, worms, weeds, grass, seeds, and other natural sources of food, complementing their diet effectively. See that the areas  your flock roams in are not sprayed with any chemicals or pesticides. Remember, free-range chickens are also exposed to predators, disease, and other dangers, so make sure your yard is secure, and your chickens are supervised. 


What Are The Best Treats for Chickens?

Every once in a while, you can feed your chickens a special treat. Healthy options chickens can eat include fruits, vegetables such as carrots and leafy greens, grains, and insects. Some treats are specifically formulated for chickens and provide them with additional vitamins and minerals. Chicken treats such as dried black solider fly larvae, oyster shell, and grit are all healthy additions to your chicken’s diet. Grit helps with their digestion, while oyster shell provides them with calcium to strengthen their eggshells. High protein treats are excellent for chickens, especially during molting or cold weather when they need extra energy. Mealworms, dried crickets, sunflower seeds, and freeze-dried shrimp are all high in protein and amino acids, which helps with feather growth and muscle development. But remember, treats should only make up around 10% of their diet [1] – after all, moderation is key to keeping your chickens feeling cluckin’ great.


Ferment chicken food to aid digestion and immune health

Fermenting your chicken’s feed is a great way to improve their digestion and immune system. Fermenting the feed makes the nutrients more bioavailable and boosts the amino acids and probiotics, which helps build strong bones and muscles. Soak the pelleted feed in a bucket of water for 24 hours, adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or probiotic powder to kick-start the fermentation process. After 24 hours, the feed should be bubbly and sour-smelling, indicating it’s ready to feed to your flock.


Kitchen scraps

Feeding your chickens food scraps is a great way to add variety to their diet and reduce food waste. It’s also great for the budget! Scratch grains, fruits and vegetables are all healthy treats for your flock. However, make sure to avoid feeding them table scraps consisting of sugary or salty foods, and know which foods are toxic to chickens to avoid harming their health.


What Can’t Chickens Eat?

Finally, let’s discuss some foods to avoid. While chickens are resilient, certain items can be poisonous to chickens or harmful to them. Steer clear of foods like chocolate, avocado, and raw or undercooked beans. Be vigilant for signs of toxicity, such as lethargy, diarrhea, or changes in behavior, and consult a veterinarian if you have concerns.

Feeding your flock doesn’t have to be a daunting task – with a little knowledge, you can ensure your chickens enjoy a balanced and varied diet. Keep an eye on portion sizes, adjust for their stage of life, and remember to treat them occasionally (because even chickens deserve a little pampering!). Now you’re equipped with the know-how to keep your feathered friends clucking with happiness.

So go ahead, embrace the joys of chicken-keeping and continue expanding your knowledge on proper chicken care. After all, a happy, healthy flock is something to crow about!