What do Chickens Eat

What food do chickens need

Preparing the best kind of chicken food for your chickens can be difficult, especially if you are a first time owner. The right type of food can help make all the difference for your chickens, not only in their overall health and demeanor, but also in the quality of the eggs that they lay. Fortunately, however, no matter what experience you have, it can be easy to determine what the best food is for your chickens. Much like finding the best food for your cat or dog, there are some nutrients and ingredients that chickens need in a well balanced diet to enjoy a higher quality of health. Consider some of the following things to look out for when you prepare food for your chickens. While there is always room for variation according to what you can afford and what you would like to prepare, there are a few key ingredients that you should include in all of the meals that you prepare.

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Meat Protein

Protein is an absolute must for your chickens, as it is essential to the quality of their egg production. Complicated proteins may be hard for chickens to digest, and may encourage strange and unwanted habits during feeding. However, free range chickens enjoy a variety of culinary delights in form of worms and other insects that are high in protein. Throughout the year, include fish oil and fish meal in your preparations. As a treat, it can be a good idea to give them crickets and worms during the winter and summer, respectively. Not only will your chickens love the taste, but the active inclusion of protein in their diet will help them grow stronger and healthier.


Calcium is vital for the health of your chickens and the quality of their eggs. Many owners will immediately think about what their options are in terms of calcium pills and other oral supplements, but the truth is that these are rarely required. All that you need to do is feed your chickens eggshells for all of the calcium benefits. Many farmers have different opinions regarding the eggshells, but it is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get your chickens the calcium they need to grow big and strong. The fact of the matter is that laying hens who lack calcium will develop health problems later in life. A lack of calcium is bad for any chicken, and it may result in thin shelled eggs.

Whole Corn and Grains

Unfortunately, this is where chicken owners make a lot of classic mistakes. Some people will mix too many dried whole corn kernels and grains into their meal, which will result in a fatter, unhealthier chicken. Things like cereal grains and bread should be given sparingly, as while these can be a good snack, they should be avoided for the long term. In moderation and the right amounts over a set period of time, you can provide your chicken with necessary nutritional supplements. Introducing these to their diet can also contribute to the richness of their eggs’ yolk, so be sure to plan ahead accordingly and adjust your meal to see if you are getting the results that you want.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a vital component of any chickenfood. Not only can they promote the health of your chickens, but they are also a vital ingredient to creating rich and nutritious eggs. Many people do not give their chickens greens because they do not know about their benefits. Including things such as beet greens, kale, and lettuce in your chickens’ diets will have a significant and positive effect on their health. Think about regularly adding small amounts of these leafy greens to their meal and seeing what difference it can make. Much like with any meal plan, it is important for you to adjust according to how your chickens react and what the results are.

Grass and Fibers

While it may sound like a strange food to include, but grass and hay can be an excellent supplement for your chickens. Grass and hay provide your chickens with food to pick at, while giving their bodies the fiber that they need to grow healthier and process food better. Many owners claim that they can use the grass and hay with their compost pile, leaving it in the corner of their pens. It can be more convenient this way because you will not have to worry about having to turn the compost. It will usually take a year for your compost to be ready, but with chickens, the compost can be ready in anywhere between four to six months.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to give your chickens enough water to make sure that they are not dehydrated. Water helps them remove waste efficiently from their bodies, while promoting a healthy metabolism and making sure that the nutrients travel to where they need to go. You can prepare just about any type of fancy chicken food for your flock, but if they do not have fresh water available, they will be at serious risk for health defects. The quality of their eggs will also go down, as eggs fifty percent of the egg is water.

It is important to know what kind of food chickens need.