Backyard Chicken Diet


A balanced chicken feed is the basis for good nutrition. The feed should have 15-18% protein and ensures the chickens receive essential nutrients before any treats or supplements. Chickens prefer to be fed smaller quantities several times a day rather than once a day, so if you are able it’s best to give them feed several times a day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this, however, it’s completely fine to feed them twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. 


In addition to their basic feed, you can also offer many different types of food as treats or supplements to their diet. Healthy treats serve to offer extra nutrients while also providing enrichment to the overall health and wellbeing of your chickens. 

Fruits & Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables can be offered daily as a healthy treat. Vegetable peels, lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, carrots, and broccoli are some good vegetable options, and things like bananas, apples, grapes, pears, raspberries, and strawberries are good fruits to offer. Both vegetables and fruits offer a lot of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to chickens, but just make sure they comprise only up to 10% of their diet, as too much can be unhealthy. This is especially true of fruit because of the high sugar content. 


Herbs are great as a supplement because they support the health of chickens and can be used medicinally for different benefits depending on the type of herb. Oregano, sage, calendula, mint, lavender, chamomile, parsley, thyme, and many others are all great to offer your chickens. Herbs like lavender and mint can promote laying by having a calming effect, and herbs like oregano and calendula keep diseases at bay and increase the health of eggs. 

Calcium & Protein

You can also offer egg shells as a source of calcium and protein. It’s best to dry and toast them first to kill any bacteria, and then they can be mixed in with feed or offered alone. Another good source of extra protein is mealworms or black soldier fly larvae. Black soldier fly larvae also naturally contain calcium, which makes them great for laying hens. 

Foods to Avoid

There are some foods that are either unhealthy or toxic to chickens, and these should be avoided altogether. These include avocado, rhubarb, garlic, dry rice, and dried/undercooked beans. You should also avoid feeding them potato skins and raw potatoes, fruit pits (from peaches, avocados, nectarines, cherries, etc.), and apple seeds as they contain substances that are poisonous to chickens. Large amounts of beet leaves, swiss chard, and spinach are also poisonous because they contain oxalic acid. Never feed moldy food, highly processed food, or sweets, as these are all unhealthy. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Looking for more information? Browse our archive of articles:

More Questions? Our customer service representatives are happy to address your questions or provide additional information about products. Please Contact Us.

Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not in a position to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please visit our animal info tabs or consider purchasing a care guide book for additional information. If you have a health or pet emergency issue, please notify your veterinarian or a specialized technician.