What Do Chickens Eat?

Summary: Chickens are omnivores and they eat alfalfa, apples, bananas, berries, bone meal, broccoli, by-products of millings, carrots, cooked beans, corn, cottonseeds, cracked corn, dried field beans, field peas, fish meal, fruits, grains, herbs, leafy greens, maize, mealworms, meat meal, non-sugary cereals, oats, peanuts, peas, pumpkins, safflowers, salt, skinks, small snakes, sorghum, soybean, soybean meal, sunflower seeds, sunflowers, table scraps, toads, vegetables, wheat, whole grains and wholegrain bread.

Category: Birds.

Chickens are fascinating creatures to be sure. Their diet needs to be a bit varied depending on the use of the chicken. While they do eat chicken feed, they can also eat other things such as soybean meal, fruit and grain. They are omnivorous and eat a varied diet. They are as diverse in some areas as the diet of a human. They can also eat meat including each other at times. So the diet can be interesting. There are commercial forms of feed such as Chick, General, Layer and Hen Scratch that can be used to feed chickens.

Chickens feeding on fermented feed. © Linda Ly (how to ferment your chicken feed).

Grains and oats

Chickens can eat various oats and grains such as sorghum, wheat, corn and oats, as well as the by-products of millings. The digestibility of grains is improved if the grains are ground before feeding. This is a big part of the diet of a chicken.

Protein concentrates

They can also be fed successfully with protein concentrates. These concentrates usually include peanut, soybean, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower and alfalfa. Other items will includes fish meal, bone meal and meat meal, as well as peas, dried field beans and field peas. These protein concentrates gives protein to the chicken.

Homemade whole grain, soy free chicken feed. © Shaye Elliott (view the recipe).


Farm animals such as the chicken can be fed soybeans that are un-extracted. They will have to be heat treated, however, before feeding to the chicken. This turns the soybeans into a powdered material that is easier to feed to the chicken. This gives a high fat content to the animals.

Commercial preparations

Feeding chickens can also be done by different commercial preparations such as Chick Starter – which has a high fat content and is ground small so that it can be easily digested. Layer feed is ideal for laying chickens, as it contains a higher calcium/protein content. General feed provides more balanced nutrition for the chicken, and Hen Scratch has grains that are assorted and various. They can be non-medicated or medicated, depending on the form that you want. They can also come in non-pellet or pellet form.

Related birds and their diets

  1. Duck
  2. Mallard duck
  3. Peacock
  4. Swan
  5. Turkey

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