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Chicken Treats: What to Feed and What to Avoid

chicken treats

Introduction

As a chicken owner, you know that these feathered friends can be delightful companions, providing us with fresh eggs, pest control, and endless entertainment. Proper nutrition is vital for their health and well-being, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of treats available. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best treats to feed your chickens and the ones you should avoid, ensuring your flock stays happy and healthy.

The Importance of Treats in a Chicken’s Diet

Treats can be a valuable addition to a chicken’s diet, but they should never replace their primary food sources, such as layer pellets or crumbles. Instead, treats should be offered in moderation, as an occasional supplement to their balanced diet. Chicken treats can serve various purposes, including:

  • Reinforcement during training sessions
  • Promoting social interactions within the flock
  • Providing mental stimulation and reducing boredom
  • Offering nutritional benefits and supporting overall health
chicken treats

Safe and Healthy Chicken Treats

(a) Fruits: Chickens love fruits, and they offer essential vitamins and minerals. Some safe options include:
  • Apples (remove seeds and core)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Watermelon (seeds are safe to consume)
  • Peaches and nectarines (remove the pit)
  • Pears (remove seeds and core)
(b) Vegetables: Vegetables are rich in fiber and nutrients, contributing to a balanced diet. Some chicken-safe vegetables include:
(c) Grains: Grains are a fantastic source of energy for chickens. Consider offering the following grains as treats:
  • Cooked rice (brown or white)
  • Cooked pasta (without added sauces or seasonings)
  • Oats (cooked or raw)
  • Corn (cracked or whole)
  • Barley
(d) Protein: Protein treats are especially beneficial during molting or colder months. Safe protein treats include:
  • Mealworms / grubs (fresh or dried)
  • Earthworms (for free-ranging flocks)
  • Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked and shredded chicken (in moderation)

Chicken Treats to Avoid

While it’s tempting to share some of your favorite human snacks with your chickens, certain foods are harmful to their health and should be avoided entirely:

(a) Salty and Sugary Foods: Avoid feeding chickens any sugary or salty snacks, such as chips, cookies, candy, and processed foods. These can lead to health issues like obesity and kidney problems.

(b) Avocado: Avocado contains a toxin called persin, which can be harmful to chickens and may cause digestive disturbances.

(c) Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound toxic to chickens and many other animals. Never feed them any chocolate or cocoa products.

(d) Onions and Garlic: Onions and garlic contain compounds that can cause anemia and digestive issues in chickens. Avoid giving them these items.

(e) Citrus: Citrus fruits are acidic and can cause digestive upset in chickens. Refrain from feeding them oranges, lemons, or any other citrus fruits.

(f) Raw Potato: Raw potatoes contain solanine, a toxic substance. Only offer cooked potatoes if you choose to include them in treats.

Conclusion

Treating your chickens with love and care includes providing them with healthy and safe treats. Remember, moderation is key, and treats should complement their well-balanced diet. By offering the right treats and avoiding harmful ones (Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily covers more toxic foods here), you can ensure your flock stays happy, healthy, and productive. With these guidelines, you’re now well-equipped to give your feathered companions the treats they’ll love and benefit from the most. Happy chickening!

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