Is there anything a chicken shouldn't eat?

Siamese(VA)October 3, 2005

I usually give my chickens a few treats... like bread, eggs, veggie/fruit pieces...just wondering if there is anything they absolutely shouldn't have?

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I'd be interested in knowing this also.

I give my chickens anything they will eat. They love leftovers....roast beef potatoes and carrots, polish sausage, pizza, eggs, bread, just about any thing except raw vegetables.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 6:50PM
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laa_laa(Sunset /8 or 9)

I am careful not to feed my chickens anything with cooked chicken, turkey or eggs in it. Otherwise, they love left-overs (especially fish). Other of their favorites are fresh tomatoes, corn on the cob, and spaghetti. I have even boiled some pasta to feed to them on occasion when I ran out of the cracked corn. In the evening, I pick an armful of weeds for a snack for them. It helps me to keep up with my weeding.
Lbmoore, I am curious...don't your chickens like the raw vegetables? or is there some reason why they should not be fed the raw vegs.?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 2:58AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Basically what is good for you is good for your chickens, and vice versa....

Absolute non-no's are: raw meat (can carry parasites/disease) and chocolate (toxic for birds). I occassionaly feed mine raw eggs that they themselves have laid, but no others due to the Salmonella danger. Beyond that, try to keep it healthy....McDonalds fries for example, while tasty, should be kept to a minimum. :) Grapes are fun to chase cause they bounce and roll, cooked noodles need to be cut up into non-chokable lengths, and leftovers should also be cut up so they can't choke on them. Raw corn on the cob is a great treat as are scrambled eggs, and chickens LOVE live food such as mealworms.

If you feed plant material, do an internet search for 'plants toxic to birds' to find lists of safe/unsafe plants.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 3:14AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Absolute non-no's are: raw meat (can carry parasites/disease)

So how do you account for a chicken's natural affinity to scratch through livestock manure and extract the fly and parasite larvae? And they love crickets and grasshoppers. Chickens are absolutely essential to keeping a barnyard or pasture relatively pest free.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 3:48AM
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Turtle_Haven_Farm(Z5 NY)

Yeah, and heaven help the mouse that happens to blunder into my flock... it gets decimated, then devoured!!! - Ellen

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 8:09AM
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lol...sounds like my chickens...they love to pick up the smashed toads from the driveway. That is what made me wonder if they could eat pretty much anything...

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 10:01AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Yeah, it's amazing what disgusting things chickens can and will eat! Mine have a love of those styrofoam packing peanuts, of all things!!! We have to be very careful to keep them away from them or they'll eat 'em.

The main concern with store-bought meats are, unfortunately, that large commercial slaughterhouses aren't known for being free of contaminants. Just as you would never eat a chunk of raw chicken for fear of contracting a deadly case of Salmonella, so it is for your chickens. Since chickens can also be carriers of organisms or disease and not neccessarily show any symptoms--and some of these things can be passed through their eggs to you--it's just safer NOT to feed raw meat. The live mouse, squashed toad and barnyard droppings are no doubt healthier. :)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:29AM
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Turtle_Haven_Farm(Z5 NY)

A long time ago when we first got chickens we innocently wrapped their galvanized waterer one winter with foam insulation to keep it from freezing. Yep, within a few weeks, they'd eaten all the foam off the waterer!! LOL - Ellen

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 1:43PM
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laa laa... You stated, "I am careful not to feed my chickens anything with cooked chicken, turkey or eggs in it." How come? Mine love cooked chicken and eggs and raw eggs and I throw them all the egg shells back to them. Also, My chickens are offered raw vegies/fruits such as cucumbers, carrots, brocoli, celery, zuccini, grapes and they ignore it and don't eat it. They do love tomatoes, corn on cob, lettuce, watermelon and canteloupe.

They also love spagetti, although I never had thought about a chocking hazard and cut it up, I'll have to do that next time.

A couple of weeks ago we found a smashed mamma mouse under a board and beside her was a nest of 5 newborns that would have died a slow cruel death so my son threw them into the chickens and they also gobbled them up. I figured they were no different than eating some kind of bug. I hope they werent diseased now that I think about it, but doesnt other bugs carry diseases such as cockroaches that they eat.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 7:08AM
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witsend22(6Pa Bedford Co)

The main reason I wouldn't offer many raw veggies is they aren't as dumb as folks sometime assume. Sooner or later they will say to themselves -- self, the same thing you are giving me is the same thing growing over there beyond that short little rabbit fencing that I can just flap right over. Hmmm tastsy, fresh, crisp.

Once they learned watermellons and pumpkins were inside those rinds they even went for those after a few years. There is nothing funnier than seeing a chicken standing under a tomatoe plant, neck strained upward and hoppping trying to reach a tomatoe.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 8:57AM
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I don't feed my chickens chicken either... that just seems wrong to me. (cannibilism) I wonder if chickens are natural cannibils though? Once a predator got one of my guineas and the chickens were **warning this is gross!!* running around with the poor guineas head in their beak.

I also don't feed them eggs from other chickens.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 1:02PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

*LOL* Our local crows love to sit up on the power lines above the yard in Spring and eat baby sparrows...they drop the heads and feet into our yard where the chickens find them. *shudder* Once our chickens found the head and front end (minus legs) of an Alligator Lizard that the crows must have dropped in the yard.

Here's what my husband, who was up on the roof working on the air conditioner, saw: The chickens chasing the one hen that had Horrid Tasty Thing, and ME chasing all of them trying to get it away, yelling "DROP IT!" at the top of my lungs! During the chase I had one heck of a time figuring out what it first it looked like a human finger (!), then a fish (where in the heck did they get a FISH?!). Finally I was able to grab that hen and wrestle it away from her, but it sure maybe for a weird-looking, high-speed parade for my husband....*L*

The problem with spaghetti is, once a chicken got a strand half-way swallowed, then changed her mind. But she can't spit it out, and now the OTHER END is flapping around, beating her on the head while she runs around in terror...AAGGGHHHH! The only choice was to grimly keeping on swallowing...I was laughing so hard I was no help at all.

Now we cut spaghetti up. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 2:32PM
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My kids think our chickens shouldn't eat fingers. After being pecked a few times myself, I have to agree.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 4:47PM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

Just until yesterday, our chickens were allowed to be free-range, where I witnessed them eating: bits of gravel, pumice from potting soil, soggy newspaper. (Along with the scratch, bugs, grass, and human-food leftovers, of course.) They've never once been sick.

Now they have a roof over the 6' high pen, so they can't fly out to freedom (they are SO unhappy today.

I feel a little guilty about giving them chicken meat, since that makes them de-facto cannnibals, but the few tastes of chicken meat didn't seem to harm them.

There are some bugs that are harmful for chickens to eat, but somehow the chickens seem to avoid them naturally, such as, the brightly colored orange-&-black striped caterpillars. I have seen the chickens avoid cheetos, probably because of the color.

I love these threads. LOL @ Velvet's chicken.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 6:05PM
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raw potato peels big no no

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 11:09PM
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No Raw potato peels? How come?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 7:11AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I've heard that also about the potato peels. I wonder if it has something to do with solanine?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 3:44PM
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sweetgreen(z5 MI)

About the potato peels, I do believe that unripe (green tinged) raw potatoes are somewhat poisonous to humans, so I would also think that they are to birds. Is this the solanine you mentioned CatherineT?

I have read that cooked potato peels are ok for the birds. My mother had ringnecked pheasants and they always ignored raw potato peels, but one day she microwaved them a bit before she threw them in and they devoured them. Pretty good instincts in birds.

I've also heard of theories about birds intentionally eating poisonous things in small amounts - perhaps as a natural wormer... I wonder if it's possible that we've bred the instincts out of some of our domestic chicken breeds?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 2:04PM
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I didnt want to start a whole new post--but is it ok to give chickens pokeweed (berries)? I have a bunch of these plants and want to cut them down for the chickens/guineas if its ok.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 5:12PM
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sweetgreen(z5 MI)

I had a huge pokeweed plant growing up in my guineas outdoor pen - they never ate the berries as far as I could tell. They would peck at the leaves a little when they were hard up for greens.
But I don't know if they didn't eat them because they shouldn't and knew it, or because they're snooty when it comes to their feed - could be either way!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 10:56AM
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binghamvilleforest(z3 NW VT)

Velvet, I'm practically falling off my chair laughing! I'm a horrible, but determined gardner. I leave the little white markers in the soil next to the plants so I can remember what they are, if they'll come back, etc... Well, my chickens keep pulling them up and running around the yard with them. Yes, I have been known to chase after them...
Thanks all for the info - I learned the hard way about the styrofoam too...

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 12:33PM
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Any kind of COOKED meat is just fine, including other poultry! Yes, while chickens do eat mice, baby birds, other small vertebrates and any invertebrate they can catch, they are still very unlikely to contract salmonella from all of the above, with the possible exception of some small herps.

Yes, while chickens regularly do scrounge the barnyards and stock pens for maggots and relish them, I will say that maggots are a risky food. There are always the occasional maggots which are NOT killed or digested. Maggots, by their very nature, have highly acid and chemical-resistant skin, which protects them from the very food source or environment they live in. Maggots are nature's best garbage disposers. Gasoline, rubbibg alcohol and common insecticides will kill adult flies in seconds. Maggots can continue to crawl about in these for minutes to maybe an hour or so! Think about it.

Maggot poisoning causes paralysis, resulting from botulism. In some cases, the maggots kill birds by penetrating the intestinal walls.

Also, while commonly seen, earthworms, are NOT ideal chicken or other poultry food! Most cases of blackhead in chickens, can be traced dirctly to the consumption of earthworms, which are carriers of parasites to birds. Most wild birds also DON'T eat earthworms. Robins do. In fact, robins are but one of only a handful of avian species designed by nature to handle them in large quantity. Turkeys are even more susceptible to blackhead than chickens, so never let turkeys have access to earthworms! In fact, it's not wise to mix turks and chickens for that reason--the chickens can give it to the turkeys. Birds hatched/reared together on the same farm are okay.

Other than that, just as some here have mentioned, avoid plants which are known to be severely toxic. Although certain wild birds may eat them, chickens have not been genetically adapted for such and they should be avoided.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 4:18PM
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What about the pokeweed? I know they are ok for wild birds (but toxic to humans) I have one rooster that goes to the big patch of pokeweed and snakes on the berries...hes ok so far. Thats scary about the maggots! I never really thought about it that way--them "eating" thru the intestines, but it makes sense since they eat thru other living (dead) things. yuck!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 12:34PM
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Turtle_Haven_Farm(Z5 NY)

My DD works at a small local convenient store. A few weeks ago, she brought home a small pizza that had been left in the oven too long, the bottom got burned. I took the whole thing back to the barn, opened the box and dumped it on the ground, peppers, pepperoni, cheese and burned crust. They went nuts!!! It was totally gone within less than 20 minutes. Loved it!
Of course, I wouldn't do that on a weekly basis, but as a treat, why not! LOL - Ellen

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 1:57PM
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Tomato_Worm59: What kind of parasites can chickens get from earthworms? Our chickens have been raiding the compost pile and helping themselves to loads of earthworms. I will fence the compost pile tomorrow, to prevent them from eating any more earthworms.

Our chickens love to eat lots of fresh large onions, diced. I believe that this keeps their digestive tracts parasite free. Also, we mainly feed them with grains like raw rice and bajra (a native grain).

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 2:06PM
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Tamil, I find it interesting someone all the way in India would be reading this forum. LOL! I can't remember the name of the parasite responsible for blackhead. Maybe it's not in Asia, anyway. maybe since chickens originally came from india and surrounding lands, they have geneically adapted to the environment as well as whatever they eat. If you do on online search for blackhead, you may find out quite a buit more.

Siamese, pokeweed may not be toxic to a chicken. You said you've seen wild birds eat it. I've also seen sertain wild birds not only get sick from poke berries, but act as though they were drunk from them.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 4:06PM
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Tomato Worm 59:

These forums are a great inspiration for any "newbie" farmer. I have lurked here for a long time and have really been motivated by the spirit of caring and sharing found in these forums.

I have been in the food ingredients business for many years and unfortunately, still am part of it. I am disgusted with the present state of supermarket food, even in India. So, I have now started a small self sufficient farm, to provide fresh, organic food for my family. Hence, the chickens!

We give our chickens other healthy foods like diced tomato (the indigenous variety which has lots of seeds), wheat bran porridge, rice bran porridge and shredded cabbage. These are all available relatively inexpensively in India.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 3:43PM
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BelindaM(z8 La)

Beans will make them explode!! Well I read this on a web site over two years ago that chickens can't pass gass so you NEVER EVER feed them beans. I told a friend of mine that has raised many chickens and she thinks that the funniest thing. I'm still afraid to feed mine beans, but is my friend just lucky. or is this true??? I'm not willing to have exploding chickens yet!! All scraps even potatoes mine have been happy about. I give the beans to the cats.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 8:26PM
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Belinda, that is just a wives tale at best. Chickens may not burp, but it sure doesn't mean they don't fart. Yes, they fart just like every other vertebrate creature, period. Chickens and other birds routinely eat beans and peas. Now soybeans should never be fed without being cooked first. This is to break down toxicity, not gas.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 9:44PM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

My chickens will consume poke berries all fall long to the point that their poos are all purple, without any ill effect.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 9:51AM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

Chickens can get Gape worms from eathing earthworms. Link to article below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Gapeworm info

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 1:49PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

I can't help but laugh every time I picture the exploding chicken!!!! As far as potato peelings go, I sure would like to know the truth about that. I'm tired of trying to always remember to keep them out of the compost and to microwave them first.

Before we had the chickens we had a great compost pile outside the kitchen door. Now it simply doesn't exist anymore. Each day I toss garbage out and I see 70 chickens come running --- then there is that giant sucking sound. They eat coffee grounds and even banana peels. I do try to throw stuff out each day so nothing is really spoiled but have a feeling they won't eat anything that will make them sick.

I was worried about all the Lupins in my flower garden this summer, but realized the chickens didn't even taste them. Other things like Comfrey and certain types of hosta get devoured but they leave my daylilies and most other established garden perennials and annuals alone. They much prefer foraging in the woods and in the weedy areas.

We know they are eating a healthy diet because of the deep orange yolks full of beta carotine.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 3:54PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

What about plant fertilizers? I have over 100 fruit trees, and I fertilize them with horse manure, compost and granular commercial ferts.

It is the commercial stuff I am worried about, since it looks a lot like chicken feed crumbles! I do put it under the mulch, but the hens kick away the mulch regularly.

I know they will peck at it. This is a new flock, born in July of this year. They are big, very active, very alert, and check out the entire property. I just found the first egg yesterday, in the laying box complex.

I'm worried because my Banana trees need a ring of fertilizer around them, and not all the Banana patches are fenced off. The hens also get into my big potted plants and scratch around in them, probably eating lots of granules, of dirt, perlite and fertilizer.

I do not want to make my outgoing, spoiled birds into a caged flock. I love to see them ranging. So far, with all the ingestion of questionables, they are thriving.

Will commercial plant fertilizers harm chickens? Are they smart enough to stop sampling it, if it is harmful?


    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 9:30PM
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I really have no idea what happens when a chicken eats a maggot, but my understanding was that maggots didn't eat living cells? Medical people use maggots to eat dying flesh from burn wounds etc.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 2:16AM
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athagan(z9a N/C Fl)

Raw potatos should not be fed in large quantities as they're difficult to digest. They're not toxic unless they're green. I've never noticed much problem small quantities of potato peelings.

Maggots in a dead animal are hazardous for the reasons outlined above, but maggots and other worms in a compost pile generally are not.

Chickens can be a major carrier of blackhead disease in turkeys so if you have the pathogen in your area it's not a good idea to run chickens and turkeys together.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 4:12PM
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Giventake, that is correct, maggots do not eat or chew through living tissue, so there's no way they'd get into the chicken's abdominal cavity that way. Food goes through the gizzard and gets ground up before it passes to the gut anyway so maggots, like other bugs will do the same inside a chicken.

As for chickens choking on spaghetti, that seems a little odd given that they will eat small snakes, lizards, frogs and other birds, claws, beaks, feathers and all. Cheryl

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 11:38AM
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My concern would also be about the flavor some foods would lend to the eggs. This is what I've heard about fish products and onions. And I have wondered about peppers...

I always cut up any long pasta noodles 'cause that's what Velvet said to do with chicks. It seems reasonable to me. What they choose to eat on their own is up to them, but I want what they get from me to be safe. Sometimes I just dump dry stuff in the food processor so it will all be tiny for them....

I guess my flock is missing out on all the leftovers because I dont' give them much. I've always heard bread, unless chopped up tiny, would expand in their crop and possibly give them problems. And that potato peels couldn't be digested. So, if I left out a bowl of cheese dip...Velveeta cheese with Rotel(hot)tomatoes, that would be okay? Do they recognize hot peppers as hot?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 3:30PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

I know that wild birds eat hot pepper seeds and seem to enjoy them, so maybe all birds can handle the heat of pepper seeds. Does anyone know about this?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 5:18PM
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I had my first chicken emergency. I give my girls fruit at the end of every day when it's time to go into their coop for the night. I hold apples and let them take turns pecking at them. One of them grabbed too big of a piece of apple and ran off with it. A minute later I noticed her walking around with her beak wide open. I knew it had to be a piece of apple in there. I was just hoping I could get it out of her - and fast! Thankfully it wasn't too far down. I was able to get a grip on the end and pull it out. I was so relieved. What if it had been stuck farther down? She looked a little stunned after I got it out but 30 seconds later she was already looking for another piece. Whew, I made it through this one but learned a very valuable lesson about bite sized pieces.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 11:50PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

That is scary! Since our birds free range, they clear up everything I throw in the compost pile. I should be careful about the sizes of the pieces, I guess.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:46AM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

You are a great inspiration to anyone learning English.

Chickens do appreciate variety in their diet, same as humans. And, it's a much better use of food waste, than to just throw food into the garbage.

I hope you didn't lose any chickens to the avian flu last year.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 5:01AM
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when I have scraps I just throw them out as is. Even whole pieces of bread so far I haven't had a problem. they just peck away at what they can handle.

let me tell you something funny though. last month I went to see a fellow who wanted to get rid of some of his flock he had ordered from the hatchery. He had a gigantic dog I mean the head on this dog was as big as two hens. He was on a chain that had to be as big around as my hand. Well, there was a little hen up there where he was tied up the fellow free ranged then put his hens up at nite. He said there were two hens that made a bee line for the dog as soon as they came out in the morning and that they and the dog ate outta the same dish. The dog didn't seem to mind even though he could have eaten them with one bite. and the little hens weren't scared a bit either. while I was talking to the fella the hen ran by with a big ole bone in its beak and a rooster hot on its tail. LOL It was really the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 5:29PM
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One of my roo chicks picked up a cigarette butt (left behind by one of our construction guys). He just ran around and around in big circles with the butt hanging from his beak, as if he was smoking! All the other chicks were following him to see what prize he had. It was hilarious and I hurt for days from laughing at him. Somewhere I have pictures of was great!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 11:15PM
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marbree(z5 MI)

Hi, this site is in reference to house-pet birds, but I think it might also apply to chickens

Top Ten Common Foods that can Poison Your Birds:
Ten Toxic Foods for Bird Owners to Avoid

Here is a link that might be useful: Top Ten Common Foods that can Poison Your Birds

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 12:39AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Well, that was an interesting list and I sure would follow it for pets. Chickens, however --------

Mine get avocado peelings, onions, and mushrooms regularly from the compost. We throw coffee grounds in every day and they eat every little speck. In the fall when I canned applesauce and apple butter, they got all the cores which included the seeds.

We have yet to have a sick chicken!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 8:54AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

It just occurred to me that parakeets and canaries are probably not omnivores like chickens are.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 5:11PM
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I remember reading somewhere that chickens can be sensitive to salt. Salty foods have to be given in moderation.
However my chickens LOVE leftover fried rice from take-out!
I also feed them cooked scrambled eggs, crushed baked eggs shells & left over cooked chicken if avaiable.
I feed them sardines or other canned fish for a protien boost once in a great while.
I've heard the potato peel thing too.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 7:31AM
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I am from India, I and my family own a few free-range chickens for our consumtion, we donÂt feed them chicken because we canÂt afford to and I would not even if I could because it would be unethical, though we feed them rice and sometimes other grain these chicken here eat almost anything and are particularly fond of reptiles such as Gecko (house lizards) and snakes and insects.
What I want to say here is that one day as I was digging the ground to aerate the soil there were these earthworms wiggling and I noticed the chickens that were nearby scurried to investigate and pecked at them and left them alone, I was surprised as to why the chickens only pecked the earthworms but did not eat them, could anybody shed some light on this phenomenon ? thanks

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 1:39PM
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My chickens absolutely love earth worms and are around me constantly while I am gardening waiting for some to get dug up. It would be interesting to know why yours aren't interested in worms.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:12AM
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Some chickens just don't like worms.
I've had a few different breeds. Some breeds readily eat up the worms. In fact i had one hen that would sit on my shoulder (or head) and wait for me to dig up a good batch of rotting something full of worms and goodies. I've had other breads that would investigate worms and walk away.
As for feeding chickens chicken meat, anybody remember how Mad-Cow started. Wink Wink. There are similar cases where Human cannibalistic cultures have similar Neurological disorders. I think itÂs kind of a genetic insurance that no animal eats itÂs own kind out of existence.
For the most part all my chickens have been very good at deciding what is edible and what is not. They love clover so much (a weed in my gardens) that they rooted it up completely and I had to cultivate away from them so I could give them some as a treat.
Keep in mind that before humans came along they survived just fine eating whatever they found.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:17AM
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About poke...there was a huge thicket of poke growing inside the pen where we built our coop and where our chickens live now. We had never been able to eradicate that stuff and only whacked down the worst of it before putting the birds in there. They have totally taken care of that problem! There is no sign of poke (or any other green thing) in the whole pen! They have shown no sign of ill effect whatsoever. (I know other birds eat poke berries - it's murder on clean clothes hung outside to dry, if you get my drift.)

I've never had such well weeded flowerbeds because I'm always hunting for greens for the girls. They DO love them some salad!

As for "teaching" the chickens that vegetables are good to eat...I don't think you have to do that. They just KNOW. Mine may hesitate when presented anything brand new but it doesn't take long before they figure out what to do with it. And I don't think your garden would be safe from chickens for long just because you never gave them veggies to eat.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:52AM
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I just love experimenting to see what my chickens will enjoy. They really like pasta, rice, tomatoes, spinach, scrambled eggs with shells, avocado, nuts of various sorts, cantaloupe, oatmeal, cheerios, pizza, lettuce, popcorn, corn, corn on the cob, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, baked beans, oranges (flesh not peels), peaches, apples, bananas, and small/incidental amounts of cooked chicken, beef, pork and venison. I'm sure theres more, all I can think of now.

In fact the list of things they don't like is quite short.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 1:46PM
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I planted comfrey specifically for the chickens even though people told me it was very invasive and I would be sorry having it in my flower garden.

The chickens have never allowed it to become invasive and absolutely love it! They are a great help in the gardens (no slugs in the hosta garden this year) and the only time they are a real pain is when I try to plant new things. I have to put low fencing around anything new and once it is established, they live it alone.

I had no major problem with japanese beetles this year although everyone in the area was complaining about them. Since they lay their eggs on the ground, I think the chickens have taken care of that problem also.

Free ranging chickens are a wonderful addition to natural organic gardening.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 6:14PM
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My two Legbars like left over spag bols - mince and pasta and also cheese, They do like mashed potato and also bread. My two old silkies are much fussier. Loved reading the funny stories above - chuckled out loud - thanks, Ann

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 2:59PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

My new rooster swallowed a mouse whole while I watched the other day! I had just told him it was about time he earned his keep!!! He's no dumb cluck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Stories about my chickens on my blog

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 6:38PM
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I was surprised by how many people feed chickens poultry products. I've read that feeding eggs can train chickens to start eating their own eggs and other cannibalistic behaviors. I know that is a way to give them protein and calcium if there is no other source but there are plenty of other sources for nutrients (crushed shells, sunflower seeds for calcium; soybeans, oats milo, worms, bugs for protein) that won't encourage cannibalistic behavior.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 5:35PM
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sandykk(z6 MD)

On Backyard Chickens, they have a nice list of foods they can eat.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 11:22PM
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I used to be a member of the poultry youth of america website and someone there mentioned grapes as an absolute no-no. I guess they had birds die from them, something about a toxin in them. I cant remember now, but I know after reading that I never fed my girls grapes. PYA is a great website for helpful information on this kind of thing. They have great discussion boards. The reason I'm no longer a member is because my computer cant handle their new website images or something. So my page never loads. But I miss it, because they had such great topics.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 6:16PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I've never had a problem with my birds eating grapes, although I can see where they might be a choking hazard. But my chickens love them and watching a bunch of chickens chase rolling grapes is a hoot. :)

As for feeding chickens eggs and chicken, none of mine have ever turned cannibal or egg eaters from it--but we keep it an occasional treat, not a daily or even weekly thing.

All things in moderation.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 8:09PM
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In response to Undercover_owl:

I am new to chicken ownership, but I have read that it's normal for chickens to swallow sand, pebbles, or pumice for their gullets. Because they don't have teeth they use little stones to break up their food. Hope this post is helpful.

Happy chicken tending!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 12:43PM
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I've had chickens several times before, I now have 8 of them in a good size aviary (I'm in the city) and I feed them just about everything. any table scraps are fair game and what they don't like ends up getting mixed with the bedding and in the compost pile. they also love grass and greenery. I just don't put stuff in there that I know is toxic like Oleander leaves for example.
But really chickens may be stupid but not THAT stupid, they actually have a pretty good sense of what they should and should not eat. I never understood the way people here babysit animals like they're too stupid to know what to eat. I mean geez, they've survived in the wild for thousands of years. Some of the city folk I know couldn't survive on their own for a week. ugh... I better quit here before I start a rant about how much I dislike city people. haha. but then I married one so I better shut up.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:16PM
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Uncooked white rice in volume will kill a chicken. I know, they eat grains but rice will fill the craw and then expand when they drink. I did kill some chickens accidently one time because they trusted me. They knew anything that came from the house in a pan was good eatin', so.....I made blackberry jelly, several batches. I had all the seeds in a big pot and threw them out in a pile. The chickens dived right in and I found 2 dead later and several suffering. Blackberry seeds(I found out later) will stop up the digestion if given in huge amounts. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 4:56PM
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flowerchild59(z6b IL)

Here is a nice link to plants that shouldn't be fed to chickens.

Here is a link that might be useful: Toxic Plants to Chickens

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 10:44AM
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mine doesnt eat anything can any one help me??? :(

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 11:53PM
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flowerchild, the list is huge! I am disappointed to see that cabbage is not good for them because in BYC, it is highly recommended as a way of keeping chickens busy, and my chickens love cabbage!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 8:59AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

qwer, what do you mean yours doesn't eat anything? Do you mean won't eat anything outside of their feed ration?

If so, I'd suggest introducing them slowly to goodies--let them see YOU eating it, make yummy noises, drop some bits and call them over with an excited-sounding 'chick-chick-chick' while picking up and dropping the tidbit an inch or so from the ground--this is how roosters call over hens for goodies they find and chickens will instinctively respond to it. Things like live mealworms, diced grapes, raw corn on the cob, scrambled eggs, etc. are all good starter foods and pretty much universally LOVED by chickens. They'll catch on quick about different foods, chickens are VERY food-motivated. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 5:38PM
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I've had a hen die recently from eating one of those streamers like the shiny plastic pompom things on kids bike handles... I watched her swallow the darned thing and I wasn't fast enough to catch her and stop her. One of the other ones did the same thing and I caught her and pulled the thing right out of her beak and she's fine. My girls seem to have a liking for shiny crap. So I'd put that on the list of stuff to keep away from them.
yeah chicken can be really shtoopid, and it doesn't help when your kids leave crap around the backyard.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 2:34AM
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Chickens are cannibalistic by nature!
When I was a kid we would put one teaspoon of Watkins red liniment per gallon of water in their waterers. That helped tone it down/control it. If you ever have one that is injured, the others will most likely peck at the injury until they kill the bird & then will eat it. I've seen it happen many, many times.
Egg shells are good for them. They contain what they need to make more shells!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 6:35PM
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Back to the subject.

I learned never to put a frayed rug or cloth covering over my baby chicks' cage. I had one continue to pull on a thread and by the time I noticed, it had swallowed a long thread still attached to the rug. It was a horrible feeling trying to pull it out of it's beak thinking I might pull all its insides out, and finally I just cut it and hoped it would swallow and discard what I couldn't get out. The chick survived :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 8:49AM
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yes, chickens will eat hot peppers. i know, i have a hard time keeping the chickens away from my hot pepper trees.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:26PM
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my chicken (Nuggets) runs for beer, but she has a big bowl of water. we cought her on top of the beer bottles in the backyard, and when you dont give her none, she gets mad,and bokes loud. will this make her sick to have a little.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 4:50PM
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I feed my roosters sardines with their normal food is that ok because I want to see if they could get sick

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 10:56PM
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NEVER EVER give a chicken Avocado! Avocados are poisonous to birds all birds. I know this thread is really old but someone will read this. I can't help but wonder why someone would find exploding chickens funny, maybe she shouldn't have animals then! Anything that would cause my wonderful hens pain I find very disturbing. I have a few that are going on 8 years old, they still lay, maybe not all the time but they have a little cycle, they are girls after all! If they stop altogether, they still have a forever home! My hens eat peas mixed with some plain yogurt and scrambled eggs (scrambled in a little olive oil) and diced blueberries and strawberries they love this treat. Its good for them and helps them lay nice strong eggs. I only use a tiny bit of olive oil and this helps keep them clear, a bit of organic apple cider vinegar in their water keeps them from getting sour crop, just a couple times a week. No way would I give them anything that is questionable, too acidic like lemons, or strong like onion.

They free range during the day and are in their coop at night, safe and sound..... and they are very funny and sociable.

If I am unsure, I don't risk it. They get good lay mash, crumbles and scratch too. always fresh water (on a drip) Chickens need to drink A LOT, more than they need to eat so make sure their water is fresh and clean ;)

If you are going to keep birds, don't laugh at them being hurt, that is just not right.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 6:07PM
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