Chickens eating out of the palm of someone's hand.

Whether you’re just getting started raising your chickens or have had backyard birds for years, you can still benefit from caring for your flock. Nutrition, taste, and sustainability are all critical factors when considering what to feed chickens. If you are curious about maintaining health and longevity, it is important to ask what can chickens eat? 

At New Heritage Feed Co., we have created a naturally-sourced, essential oil-enhanced animal food that chickens love. We have a chicken feed for chicks that are growing and also one for the matured flock. We are confident it will be the perfect feed for your chickens because we balance protein, calcium, and nutrients. 

Just like humans, chickens like a variety of food. It begs the question, “what can chickens eat”? Visit our site today to grab the best food for your flock. 

Meet the Omnivore

Chickens are omnivores, meaning they like to eat both plants and animals. Chickens can digest carbohydrates, proteins, fats, just as other omnivores animals. The nutrients are used as an energy source and help produce nutrients for themselves and other animals. 

If chickens are allowed free-range on their own to feed, they would likely serve themselves various insects, seeds, and natural plant life. The chickens may even eat small reptiles such as toads though it is often not their first choice. Chickens will eat just about anything you give them, however, that does not mean you should allow them to have whatever they desire. 

If you own a hobby farm, you may have a goal for raising chickens, such as producing meat or eggs. By learning about what your chickens can eat and what they should not eat, you will grow happy and healthy birds. 

Provide Your Birds Chicken Food

It is important to let chickens free-range, especially when it is warm outside.  To help chickens meet their nutritional goals; You should also provide proper animal food. A high-quality feed is an essential component of a chicken diet. 

What does a chicken animal food provide? Not only the adequate balance of nutrition but vitamins and minerals. Meeting nutritional requirements can also help chickens consistently produce and lay healthy eggs. 

By feeding your chickens animal food in addition to allowing them to eat in nature, you are providing a variety. The healthy balance will meet the chicken’s needs while allowing you to meet your goals as a farmer. 

Let the Chickens Free Range

Free-range chickens looking for bugs to eat.

When chickens free-range, they can get their supply of insects. Not only does this keep the number of insects down in your backyard, it also keeps your chickens happy. The chickens will even feed on pests you would rather avoid, including ticks and fleas. 

Some chicken owners even purchase insects to feed as a chicken treat. It is a great option for birds that might not free-range. 

When roaming about the backyard, chickens will also feed on weeds, plants, and flowers. It is a win for both you and the chickens, as it frees up weeds in the yard and is healthy for the flock. Chickens’ favorite treats are dandelions, clovers, marigolds, and grass clippings, so consider making a pile to be fed in moderation. 

Also, hobby farmers need to pay attention to what is in their backyard. Be aware of plants that may be toxic to chickens. The following is a list of vegetation that can be poisonous to chickens: 

  • Beans
  • Bulbs
  • Ferns
  • Holly
  • Oak trees
  • Rhubarb

Now that you know what is acceptable for chickens to free-range on in the backyard and what you might need to avoid, we can discuss what foods chickens can eat right from your kitchen. 

What Can Chickens Eat: Leftovers and Table Scraps

A woman feeding a chicken bread after learning what chickens can eat.

The great part of hobby farms and backyard chickens is they will eat your compost pile. One idea is to have a small container or can in the kitchen specifically labeled for kitchen scraps for your birds. 

By saving leftovers for your chickens, you save money while participating in sustainability. What can chickens eat from the kitchen? We have you covered with what is safe as well as what to avoid! 

You want to keep your chickens healthy, so do not feed them any rotten or moldy food. Food that could make you ill can also make chickens feel sick as well. Provided it is semi-fresh and edible, chickens can eat these kitchen foods in small amounts: 

  • Bread (whole grain is best)
  • Ground beef
  • Cooked rice and pasta
  • Cooked eggs
  • Cheese including cottage cheese
  • Unsalted crushed nuts
  • Unsalted seeds
  • Ground pork
  • Raw potatoes
  • Cooked beans

There are some foods to be avoided, just as when chickens free-range. Foods that may be toxic to chickens include:

  • Rhubarb
  • Citrus fruits
  • Avocado
  • Uncooked and dried beans
  • Onions
  • Green potato skins 

Just like humans, it is best to avoid high sugar, high fat, or salty snacks. Processed foods are difficult for chickens and can affect their health in a negative way. Remember, all table scraps should supplement their primary diet animal food source and should always be served in moderation. 

If ever unsure if it is safe to feed an item from your kitchen, it is best to use caution until you speak with your veterinarian. 

Vary Their Diet But Provide Adequate Nutrition

Someone feeding greens to their white chicken in a coop

The high-quality chicken animal food from New Heritage Feed Co. is the most important component of a chicken diet. What you feed your chicken does matter and can even change the taste of the meat or eggs the chickens produce. A high-quality animal food will make a difference so you can raise the best and healthiest chickens possible. 

We invite you to get to know us at New Heritage Feed Co., and we would love for you to be a part of our family. New Heritage Feed Co. is a team of animal health and livestock wellness professionals working together to create a remarkable product. 

Hopefully, we can partner with you in the future as we have today by introducing what chickens can eat!