Raising chickens is a fun as well as a rewarding experience. When you spend time with your birds, you’ll get to know their individual personalities. Sometimes they’ll even eat out of your hand! And just like people, your chickens will appreciate some variety in their diets. If you’ve been wondering what to feed chickens, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Scratch Feed
Scratch feed, one of the ideal kitchen waste chicken food ideas is a mixture of different grains and seeds–it usually contains wheat, cracked corn, barley, and sunflower seeds. It gets its name because chickens will peck and scratch to get to it. Scratch feed can encourage chickens to forage, and it’s great for reducing boredom.
2. Cooked Oatmeal
When you think about homemade food for chickens, oatmeal probably isn’t what first comes to mind. But oats are a major ingredient in chicken feed, so it makes sense that chickens like oatmeal, too. Warm oatmeal can be a great snack for them, especially in winter. There’s even been a USDA study showing that oatmeal improves general health in chickens. Oatmeal is rich in protein and plenty of micronutrients that will keep your birds healthy. For a special treat, you can even cook it with fruit or stir in some of the dried mealworms mentioned above.
When offering chickens treats, it’s important to only give starches in moderation. However, bread is a popular treat among many chicken keepers. Feeding your pet chickens bread is a great way to get rid of stale bread. Make sure it isn’t mouldy; though–mold can make your chicken sick. Whole grain breads will provide more nutrients and energy. But even white bread is fine to offer as a treat once in a while.
When looking for kitchen waste chicken food ideas, you probably wouldn’t think of yogurt. However, yogurt contains helpful probiotics that aid indigestion. Yogurt is also rich in calcium, making it a great treat for laying hens. When feeding yogurt, stick to plain, unsweetened varieties. Sweetened yogurts often have a large amount of sugar, and it’s best to keep chicken treats as healthy as possible. An occasional taste of sweetened yogurt shouldn’t hurt.
When you’re deciding what to feed chickens, make sure to consider pumpkin. Pumpkin is a food that they can safely enjoy cooked or raw. For an especially easy dietary supplement, you can even offer them scoops of canned pumpkin. Try to avoid commercially packaged seeds, as these usually contain high levels of sodium.
6. Leafy Greens
If you’ve ever seen chickens roaming freely, you know they enjoy a variety of green foliage. If you want to offer some variety and more nutrient-rich options, try feeding them leafy greens. Kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, and chard are all great choices. Chickens probably won’t immediately gravitate to greens as they do to sweet foods like berries or dense starches like bread.
However, greens can add some interest, especially to confined birds. If your chickens are in a coop, try hanging bundles of greens inside. This will give them something to peck at, and the motion of a hanging bundle makes foraging a little more challenging. Darker leafy greens also have benefits for you. Because they are so full of nutrients, they lead to brighter, richer yolks.
7. Cottage Cheese
Sometimes, it can be fun to give your chickens something different. And if your birds are prone to boredom, they’ll appreciate being able to try new things. If you like cheese and who doesn’t, you might be wondering if it’s safe for chickens to eat. Cheese is made primarily of fat and protein. Chickens need some of each in their diet, but you’ll want to be careful to avoid overfeeding.
While you can give your birds small amounts of any type of cheese, the healthiest option is cottage cheese. It can be a little messy to eat, but it has less fat than traditional sliced cheese, making it a more balanced dietary choice. Cottage cheese also has plenty of calcium, so it’s a treat that will help your laying hens with egg production, too. If you want to give your flock something extra, you can add sliced fruit or berries.
When considering kitchen waste chicken food ideas, a lot of chicken keepers choose something easy. With a few exceptions, chickens can eat most things you do. So if you’re slicing tomatoes for a salad or sandwich, don’t be afraid to offer them some. Tomatoes are an especially fun treat for chickens. Between the many small seeds and larger chunks of flesh, tomato slices will keep your flock busy for a while.
9. Cooked spaghetti
Nutrient-dense foods are usually most important when it comes to deciding what to feed chickens. And while you should usually choose nutritious foods, chickens enjoy occasional junk food. If looking for homemade food for chickens, cook spaghetti plain, it’s safe for chickens to eat. Longer noodles can encourage chickens to move more as they chase down one another for a bite. As with most starches, you’ll want to keep this one to a minimum when feeding.
You probably don’t want to feed all of your freshly-grown herbs to chickens. But if you have a few kitchen waste chicken food ideas, herbs can be a fun treat for your chickens. They also have some health benefits. For instance, mint can lower body temperature slightly, making it ideal to feed in the summer.