What Can I Feed My Chickens Besides Chicken Feed?

Chickens require an array of nutrients, such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They can get these from many table scraps or leftovers as well as vegetables, fruits and seeds.

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These items can often be obtained free from your garden and grocery store, and used to prepare a nutritious mash or mix with water for your flock to consume.



Chickens are far from finicky eaters and will accept many foods other than their standard feed to meet their vitamin, mineral and protein needs. Even items we consider waste contain essential vitamins, minerals and proteins for their diets.

Some examples of healthy cantaloupe offerings for chickens include seeds, rind and flesh; citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are not suitable); carrot tops; cooked potatoes; leafy greens; non-sugary cereals and grains; apples; berries; corn; watermeon rinds and squash are among other examples.

Most of these items can already be found in most kitchens or backyards; growing your own is even less costly! Use these items as supplements to commercial chicken feed – they offer protein, fiber and healthy fats!


Vegetables are safe for chickens to eat and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Leafy greens such as kale, chard, spinach and lettuce are great choices; carrots, watermelons and pumpkin seeds should also be provided regularly to your flock. Just be sure not to offer foods that may harm or kill their health, such as citrus fruits, rhubarb roots or raw beans from uncooked beans as these could pose risks.

Fresh weeds and grass clippings may also be fed, provided they are in short strands – any longer will likely lead to crop impaction, which is fatal for chickens. Uncooked beans or food that contains hemagglutinin should never be given; alternatively you could grow fodder for them using shallow containers with no soil to create dense mats of roots that provide vital sources of nutrition.


Fruit is an ideal source of vitamins, minerals and fiber for chickens to consume as snacks; especially berries, watermelons with seeds removed (and avoid canned varieties as these tend to contain excessive salt levels) carrots can be an especially nutritious addition to their diets.

Cucumbers make an enjoyable snack for chickens, who love picking off the peels as well. Frozen cucumbers can also be given to them to snack on later in the fall or winter. Peas make another nutritious option to feed to your flock — just be sure that they aren’t oversalted. Citrus fruits should also be avoided due to hypernatremia risk in flocks.


There are many items already in your home that can provide healthy alternatives to store bought chicken feed. Check your pantry or fridge and you may be amazed at what can provide your flock with nutritional fodder – from yard clippings and yard weeds (but without roots), rotting produce and leftover meat to sprouted grains and seeds for sprouting! You could save yourself some money while providing your poultry with essential nutrition!

Chickens are omnivorous creatures who find joy in eating insects, meat, fruits, vegetables and leaves – even bales of hay can provide ample protein-rich sustenance!


Chickens that are allowed to roam free-ranging produce richer and healthier eggs. Furthermore, they love eating all sorts of nutritious food items – some may already be in your pantry or refrigerator!

Leftover cooked rice provides protein and carbs for your flock. Basil, with its low calories yet high antioxidants and iron content, makes an enjoyable treat for chickens. Plus, chickens love eating their fair share of kale, spinach, and turnip greens!

Avoid avocado, butter, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee grounds, dried beans eggplant leaves or anything containing caffeine or stimulants (including cat food) which could potentially create an imbalance in blood sugar levels in your flock.