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Chicken Treats Guide. Don't Love your Pets to Death.

 Treats for Chickens 1 

If you’re reading this, chances are you have chickens that you consider pets and it’s no secret that we all enjoy spoiling our pets. We get a kick out of seeing them run to greet us at the mere sight of the treat container or the sound of the back door opening. It makes us feel good to see them happy and we are entertained by their antics when they compete for the coveted goodies. But the wrong type of treats and treats in excess can be harmful to their health, stunt growth, shorten their lifespan and interfere with production in egg-layers. So, what can they eat, what shouldn’t they eat and how much is too much?

 Treats for Chickens 2 

A good rule of thumb is: if you shouldn’t eat it, your pet chickens shouldn’t either (mealworms, insects and dirt notwithstanding). Common sense should be the guide in treat selection.The types of foods we require to maximize our own health are the foods we
should consider when spoiling our chickens: high protein, whole grains, low salt, low sugar, fruits and vegetables. Love your chickens, but not to death. Milk products are an exception to this general rule because birds are not equipped with the enzymes necessary to properly digest milk sugars. Think about it: mother birds do not nurse their young. Some yogurt on occasion is fine and does contain beneficial cultures, but too much can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. 

  Treats for Chickens 2a 

How Young?  Every new chicken-keeper wants to know how soon fluffy babies can eat treats. The answer is: any time BUT, if they are fed anything besides starter feed, they will need grit (tiny bits of sand/dirt) to aid in digestion. Starter feed is digested by saliva but other foods require grit for grinding in the gizzard (they’re a little short on teeth).

Given their tiny size and amount of food intake, a very small amount of treats can interfere with a chick’s nutritional balance, even if they're healthy choices. A chick’s growth, development and ability to defend against illness can be negatively affected by too many
treats. I am pretty conservative with baby chicks and snacks. It is fun to spoil baby chicks, but I feel that the potential harm outweighs any feel-good benefit. While not a treat, it bears mentioning that oyster shell should never be given to chicks or non-laying chickens as it can interfere with bone development and cause organ damage. 

 Treats for Chickens 3 

What’s the problem with excess treats? When chickens eat treats, they’re not eating feed, which is their primary source of nutrition even for free-range birds. Commercially prepared feed is very carefully and scientifically prepared to ensure that a chicken’s daily vitamin, mineral and protein requirements are met. Supplemental foods (treats/snacks) replace a portion of those essential dietary
elements to some degree. Excessive treats, even healthy ones, can cause any of the following: obesity, reduced egg production, malformed eggs, habitual laying of multiple-yolked eggs, vent prolapse, a protein deficiency, feather-picking, fatty liver syndrome, increased risk of heat stroke and heart problems. 

 Treats for Chickens 4 


Proteins: beef, chicken, (I know, it seems wrong), eggs, (cooked only so as not to encourage egg-eating) fish, insects (crickets are
delicious!) pork, worms (earthworms, mealworms), sunflower seeds 

Fruits: apples, peeled bananas, berries, coconut flesh, grapes, melon, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, raisins 

Vegetables: asparagus, beans (fully cooked if previously dried), beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn,
cucumbers, eggplant, greens, (kale, spinach, mustard) peas, peppers, pumpkin, squash 

Whole Grains: bread, cereal, pasta, oatmeal (cooked or not) 

 Treats for Chickens 5 


avocado flesh

tomatoes (can cause gastric upset in quantity) 

potatoes (not green) 

rice (a neutral treat) 

yogurt (probiotics are a better choice)

 Treats for Chickens 6 

 About Scratch. Scratch is affectionately referred to as ‘chicken crack’ for a reason; chickens love it, can’t get enough of it and it’s not the best choice for them. Scratch typically consists of cracked corn and a mixture of grains, which tends to lack an appreciable amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. Scratch should be thought of as chicken candy and only given in small amounts occasionally. *Scratch should not be mixed into the flock’s feed.* 


moldy foods 

uncooked, dried beans (contain phytohaemagglutinin, which is\e highly toxic to humans and animals) 

 Treats for Chickens  7 


MYTH: Chickens should not eat avocados. 

FACT: Chickens can eat the flesh of avocado in moderation. However, avocado pits and skin contain persin, which can be toxic
in significant quantities.

 Treats for Chickens 8

MYTH: Chickens should not eat raw potatoes or potato skins. 

FACT: Chickens should not eat GREEN potato skins. The green color indicates the presence of solanine, a toxin that affects the nervous system when consumed in large quantities. However, the average, healthy human would have to eat 4.5 pounds at one sitting to experience any neurological effects. Similarly, a chicken would need to consume large quantities of green potato skins to experience any effects. The leaves and stems of the potato plant DO contain high levels of solanine and are toxic to chickens. The take-home  message? If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t feed it to your chickens. 

 Treats for Chickens 9 

MYTH: Chickens should never eat onions.

FACT: Chickens can eat onions, chives and garlic in small quantities, occasionally. Sufficient quantities of onion and garlic can be  harmful to chickens, causing hemolytic anemia, aka: Heinz anemia. “The alkaloid N-propyl disulphide is present in cultivated and wild onions, chives and garlic, and affects the enzyme, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in red blood cells,” which can cause Heinz anemia. You wouldn't eat a bowl of raw onions, chives or garlic, so don't feed them to your chickens as a side dish.  

 Treats for Chickens 9a 

Further reading: (salty foods are okay in moderation, occasionally as long as there is plenty of fresh water available, but never salt alone)  

I invite you to follow my blog, The Chicken Chick, to get the latest posts delivered directly to your email inbox, Google dashboard, by NetworkedBlogs on Facebook or RSS feed!


kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:09:46 AM

Congratulations Phil and best wishes in your new place!

kathy mormino
8/27/2012 12:20:59 AM

They sound a little bit spoiled to me! :)

kathy mormino
8/27/2012 12:20:42 AM

Don't tell their dentist about the marshmallow, Amanda! :o

kathy mormino
8/27/2012 12:20:21 AM

Funny, Sandy! They make your breakfast and now you want them to make bread too? LOL!

sandy bowcutt neuburger
8/24/2012 4:31:13 AM

I'm new at this. Have 8 different girls that love to follow me around. One day they all tried to come into the house through the dog door. I am trying to learn to make homemade bread so that book would be of great help. thank you

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 4:00:33 AM

Very interesting. I guess there aren't many seeds they don't like.

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:59:30 AM

Shirley, mine love pumpkins too. The cool weather will be here before we know it and they'll be in pumpkin heaven.

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:58:42 AM

Stick around, Tammy, we have giveaways all the time!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:58:19 AM

Thank you for participating, Eddie!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:58:06 AM

Thanks a million, Alex!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:57:56 AM

You bet, Holly. Give my best to Cheep Cheep. :)

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:57:34 AM

That's no surprise at all. It's a great book, Tracy!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:57:17 AM

That's so nice of you to say, Jessica. I'm happy to know that!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:57:02 AM

They're funny that way. Mine really don't care for strawberries much at all. Go figure!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:56:27 AM

Thank you for following along and for entering the giveaway. Welcome to backyard chicken-keeping!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:55:55 AM

Thank you Melody!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:55:46 AM

Maxine, wish your DH Happy Birthday for me!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:55:31 AM

They DO!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:55:22 AM

Give my best to your BIL Keyt.

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:55:00 AM

My pleasure and thank you, Claire!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:54:47 AM

Thank you Martha!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:54:23 AM

You bet, Jennifer. Thanks for entering!

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:54:05 AM

My pleasure, Susan. Thank you. :)

kathy mormino
8/24/2012 3:53:30 AM

Congratulations Lori! You have won the Grit Magazine Country Skills Series magazine giveaway! Please email me with your addres:

jennifer thompson
8/24/2012 3:49:17 AM

our girls come running no matter what i've got, 'cause they know mama's got something good!

gavin dyer
8/24/2012 12:57:53 AM

mine love okra seeds!

amanda carpenter
8/24/2012 12:17:17 AM

My hens LOVE raisins, squash and watermelon...and the very occasional marshmallow 0;o

shirley weaver
8/23/2012 11:47:39 PM

My girls love pumpkins. I cut them in half and let them enjoy!!

tammy snodgrass
8/23/2012 11:38:39 PM

Would LOVE LOVE LOVE to win this! I never win anything!!

eddie gonzalez
8/23/2012 11:31:37 PM

Ooh. Always looking for more homemade bread books, and want to get more into bees. Would love to win!

alex summersell
8/23/2012 11:23:25 PM

Always love the information that Grit and The Chicken Chick bring to us!

holly olejnik
8/23/2012 11:20:50 PM

i would love to have the chicken one and the rabbit one!! Thanks so much!!!

loralee steffens holmes
8/23/2012 11:16:59 PM

Thanks! If I don't win this, I'll be ordering! :)

tracy spangler
8/23/2012 5:42:15 PM

I've checked the Lard book out from the library twice so I can try a bunch of the recipes! It's one of the most bookmarked books here.

jessica frahm
8/23/2012 3:56:37 PM

Thank you for all the helpful information! I am raising my first chickens and you have been very helpful.

becky engel
8/23/2012 3:04:26 PM

I love that pic with the girls aren't that crazy about grapes, but drop a strawberry top in their run and you better watch out lol

phil marek
8/23/2012 2:21:36 PM

Leaving apartment life for our first house. I want to teach my daughters how to self sustain and live better. Thanks for all the wonderful information and for consideration in the giveaway.

r dawn gardner bedingfield
8/23/2012 2:07:48 PM

Following your blog and facebook page! Great info... I would LOVE to win the Grit book give away! I am a new chicken mom and learning as I go. We have 7 hens and a roo, we got them at 2 weeks of age. They are now 8 months old.

melody green
8/23/2012 2:03:52 PM

Very nice blog and would love to be the winner- great giveaway :)

maxine rice
8/23/2012 1:58:46 PM

Would LOVE to win this! My hubby asked for this specifically for his birthday, it would be awesome to get it for him (and me) :)

8/23/2012 1:55:31 PM

The Backyard Books rock! Love my "red girls"!!!

keyt harrington
8/23/2012 1:53:50 PM

I would really love to win the chickens and rabbits magazines. Especially the rabbits because my BIL was seriously injured at work Tuesday and he has a bunch of rabbits so it would be great reading for him while he recovers!

claire rebecca
8/23/2012 1:53:19 PM

Thanks for holding the giveaway, nice blog!

martha waugh
8/23/2012 1:52:53 PM

Great article. I feed scraps daily and try to be so careful to monitor their intake of "yummies" so they don't overeat and not get the right nutrition. I would love to win the backyard chickens magazine. Grit has the best articles.

jennifer ortega
8/23/2012 1:49:20 PM

I would love to win some back yard books about anything!! Thanks for the oppurtunity Chicken Chick!

susan holdner
8/23/2012 1:48:06 PM

thank you so much for a great blog!

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 3:02:05 AM

Good luck, Esther!

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 3:01:29 AM

Thanks so much, Janet!

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 3:01:15 AM

Congratulations on your new pets, Wendy!

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 3:01:02 AM

Thank you so much, Lori. I appreciate that.

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 3:00:22 AM

Thanks Loralee! There isn't much they cannot eat, but again, moderation and common sense should be your guide. These magazines are also available online at the top of this page under "Shopping."

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 2:55:46 AM

LOL Susan! I hope you got a picture of that! :)

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 2:53:51 AM

Thanks Zandra, I hope they help. :)

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 2:53:24 AM

Thank you, Jennifer!

kathy mormino
8/23/2012 2:50:53 AM

Good luck in the giveaway, Janice!

shelby mcdonald
8/23/2012 2:49:50 AM

I love all of the Backyard books. I have bought them for years and still have all of them.

esther widgren
8/23/2012 2:17:08 AM

I would be THRILLED to win Backyard Chickens and Backyard Bees and Honey! Thank you so much for your wonderful publications!

janet ramski
8/23/2012 1:20:24 AM

We're planning to start raising both chickens and rabbits this year - I would love to win these! Your blog and FB page have already been so very helpful.

wendy cipperley cesta nigro
8/23/2012 12:31:08 AM

I'm new to chickens this year so I'd love the Backyard Chickens!!

lori garringer
8/22/2012 11:55:01 PM

Very informative in a way that is easily understood and applicable. I enjoy your articles and can appreciate not only your talent for writing but the amount of time and effort as well as your love for chickens! Thank you!

loralee steffens holmes
8/22/2012 11:39:31 PM

Great article, I love to read anything and everything about chickens! Can't get enough of it! :) I am really excited about the giveaway!!! I would LOVE any and all of the Grit magazines! I have not seen them at my stores here! We have so much fun with our chickens and enjoy the colorful egg basket we get. I'm always curious about what scraps I can give them from the kitchen. :)

susan doss
8/22/2012 11:09:43 PM

This is a great article! My chickens love tomatoes and grapes. And I just discovered a couple of weeks ago that they love figs, too! My grandmother gave me some of hers that were getting too ripe. I tossed a few on the ground and they pecked at them to see what they were. Once they got a taste, they gobbled them up! My rooster, Yella' Boy, literally buried his beak into one up to his nostrils!

zandra frausel brown
8/22/2012 11:03:42 PM

Love the treat suggestions! Can't wait for my little ones to get bigger and then spoil them!

jennifer thompson
8/22/2012 10:44:13 PM

As always a wonderful post. Very informative & helpful! Keep up the great work here & on Facebook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

janice seigler
8/22/2012 10:42:32 PM

I love the Grit magazines and would love to have the Bread making book! I have backyard chickens and will have bees starting spring of 2013!

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:33:24 PM

Thanks Cindy!

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:30:03 PM

Thanks Christy! Everything in moderation. If you begin noticing a drop in production or behavior problems such as picking, the first thing to do would be to cut out the treats.

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:26:08 PM

Michele, just pay attention to their production, if it seems affected, dial back the extras.

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:25:28 PM

Best of luck to you, Carrie!

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:25:08 PM

Good luck Dawn!

kathy mormino
8/22/2012 10:24:54 PM

Kelly, you can order a subscription online, right at the top of this page!

cindy yeager
8/22/2012 10:02:18 PM

I love the Grit publication and find them very informative, as do I find your blog posts and FaceBook posts!

christy brink kimble
8/22/2012 9:52:29 PM

This is, as always, very interesting and helpful info. Thank you. I feed lots of scraps to my chickens but I try to share between the coops and with so many I hope it is still ok for them.

michele keeley
8/22/2012 9:36:51 PM

This time of year it is difficult not to... All of the scraps from the veggies being processed gets tossed to the chickens & goats. They eat nearly every single scrap up! They are a bit like garbage disposals and I can't help but think greenbean ends, corn ends etc... grape skins can't be all that bad? They are free range so they already have a varied diet and they must have eaten a ton of crush & run out of the drive way!

carrie dukes
8/22/2012 9:28:38 PM

I so want backyard chickens and backyard rabbits...

dawn elfe
8/22/2012 9:21:35 PM

I would love backyard chickens to go along with my new coop and bread making which I want to learn to do.

kelly lange
8/22/2012 9:15:55 PM

Would love to win this maginzine! I never can find it in my local stores! ANd i think it would be very helpful since Im new at this