If you've ever wondered what treats are safe for your chicken, the answers may surprise you.
Many chicken owners want to give their chickens treats, but aren't sure what snacks are healthy for them, or even safe.
According to the website BackYard Chickens, a leading resource for chicken owners, it's true that not all treats are a good idea, and just because your chickens eat something doesn't mean it's healthy for them. That's why their "Chicken Treats Chart," first posted in 2012, is such a great resource.
With 3.3 million views, and containing the combined knowledge of hundreds of backyard chicken owners, the chart lists over 40 popular (and some not so popular) treats for chickens, as well as the general consensus about how well they are received and how healthy they are for the chickens.
Overall, the most favored and healthiest treat on the chart is mealworms. Mealworms can be purchased at pet supply stores, or online, although the chart notes that "shipping is expensive!" However, it might be worth the price, as this treat is always a huge hit, and guaranteed to be healthy.
If you don't want to spend the money to purchase mealworms, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are healthy but less expensive options. They even help hens lay eggs and grow healthy feathers.
Another inexpensive treat is bread. Most people feed their hens bread, since it's a good way to get rid of bread that's gone stale. However, since it contains starch, it should actually be fed in relative moderation.
Fruits can also make good treats, though how much and how often they should be fed comes down to the specific treat. Apples contain cyanide, so other fruits like bananas (without the peel) or berries, especially strawberries, are better options. Feeding grapes (seedless only) brings on some of the most entertaining moments, as chickens play keep-away with the tiny snacks. Watermelon, served cold, is also a great way to keep chickens cool and hydrated during hot summer days. Chickens love it!
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On the opposite end of the spectrum, warm oatmeal is a great snack during the cold of winter. Another popular wintertime choice is cabbage, which can be hung from the coop to give the chickens something to play with, and greens to eat throughout the day.
Treats to stay away from include raw green potato peels, citrus, dried or undercooked beans, avocado skin and pits, candy, chocolate, sugar, anything extremely salty, and (this shouldn't have to be said...but) raw eggs.
For information on dozens of other healthy treats, check out the full chart here. Most importantly, rest easy knowing that your feeding choices are keeping your chickens both happy and healthy.
What is your favorite treat to feed your chickens in addition to chicken feed? Share it in the comments below!
Screenshots via BackYard Chickens
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