It's true that chickens aren't exactly picky eaters. Most of the time, anyway. They love to eat out in the yard--grass, weeds, flowers, bugs. They eat tiny rocks, all sorts of plants and fruits, breads, pasta and rice (cooked). All sorts of things. They even eat meat. Their own eggs. And have been known to eat each other if the unfortunate opportunity presents itself.
You'll probably notice your chickens have food preferences. Mine do. They prefer cucumbers over carrots, for example. They aren't that thrilled about bread. They love some weeds out in the yard more than others. Some of them LOVE worms, others won't touch them.
A friend of mine said her chickens love apples but won't eat cucumbers. My chickens kind of stub their nose up at apples, but adore grapes.
Over time, you'll come to see what your chickens go crazy for and what they don't really like much and you can adjust your treats and scrap feeding accordingly.
Keep the Commercial Food Flowing
It's a good idea to limit the amount of 'extra' food you have available to your chickens, so that they won't stop eating their commercial food. Chickens are a bit like children in this regard. If you feed them lots of candy, it will spoil their dinner. And chickens need the food prepared for for them. It has a bunch of nutrients and other things that your chicken needs and probably won't get in other ways. They need at least part of their diet to be commercial food to keep a healthy balance.
So, sometimes things your chickens should not eat are actually okay for them to eat. If they do it in moderation.
Food to Keep Away From Your Chickens
But there are also lots of things your chickens should not eat. Ever. Here's a list:
1. Raw potatoes and potato sprouts. Raw potatoes are hard for chickens to digetst while the green parts of potatoes and the sprouts are toxic.
2. Rotten food. If the food is moldy, stinky, and gross, don't feed it to your chickens!
3. Raw peanuts and dried beans. (Dried beans are safe if they're cooked first.)
4. Chocolate. Seems like MANY animals should stay away from chocolate...which is okay with me. I don't want to share my chocolate with them anyway!
5. Junk food. Yes, your chickens can eat it but it's not the most healthy. Will it kill them? Probably not. They might love it, but is it good for them? No more than it is for us.
6. Some garden plant leaves such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes (usually chickens tend to stay away from these plants on their own).
7. Tobacco and Alcohol. No partying out on the town with your birds! They can't take it. And nicotine is poisonous.
8. Avocados. These can be fatal for your chickens.
9. Some types of flower seeds such as sweet peas, morning glories and angel's trumpet.
10. Raw meat. Chickens can eat meat (even chicken), but don't feed it to them raw because of risk of disease.
Your chicken's taste buds can be quite broad, but learning what's good and not good for your chicken to eat will help keep them safe and healthy. And easy way to keep track of many of the chicken feeding no-no's is to think: If it's not healthy for me, it's not healthy for my chickens...with a few exceptions, of course.
Chickens are essentially pretty easy to keep happy...but occassionally there are problems--knowing about potential dangers is a step in the right direction for keeping your flock healthy.
Learn more about keeping chickens.