What to Add to Your Chicken Feed

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 22 May 2017

Want to give your chickens an extra spring in their step? There are loads of things you can pop in their feed to give their immune systems a boost and if your chickens have been laying up a storm or particularly well behaved, there are certain treats you can add to their chicken feed that they go absolutely crazy for!

chickens eating shell grit in backyard coop

For Their Health

  • Garlic

The health properties in garlic are great for both hens and humans! Adding small amounts of garlic can help stave off worms and boost your chickens immune system.  You can crush it up and put it in your chicken feed or in the water trough. You can also rub it on your chickens wounds as an antiseptic. For more information about the health benefits of garlic for you and your family, simply click here.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is quite a superfood for your flock.  It prevents a wide range of diseases and infections, can help re-hydrate your chickens, has heaps of vitamins and more!  Add approximately 1-2 tablespoons per 3 litres to your chickens’ water supply or work on the formula of 1 ml of apple cider vinegar per chicken each day. For more information about apple cider vinegar click here.

  • Eggshells or Shell Grit
Chickens need calcium not only to stay strong, but also so that their eggshells are nice and thick and don’t crack. Put some crushed eggshells in your chicken feed to give them a calcium boost - it seems odd, but it is truly good for them! Giving them enough calcium will also help prevent ‘egg-eating’ behaviour, where chickens eat their own eggs. They do this because they feel calcium-deficient, so keeping them topped up is important! If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of feeding your chickens crushed eggs, commercial shell grit from any produce store is a great alternative. For more information about shell grit please click here.

chicken eating corn in backyard coop

For Treats

There are things that chickens absolutely love to snaffle up, that make great treats for your flock.  Just like any good thing, too much of it may make your chickens feel a little queasy, but a little bit is fine for well behaving hens!  Some great treat ideas include:

  • Mealworms

Chickens LOVE mealworms, they are packed with protein! Small servings are best though and moderation is definitely the key, too many worms is too much for their kidneys. You can also encourage natural foraging behaviour by scattering them throughout your backyard, giving them exercise AND treats! But your own girls some scrumptious mealworms here.

  • Corn

Hens absolutely love corn. Corn is high in kilojoules so too much of it may cause your chickens to be on the heftier side - but it does make the yolks of your fresh eggs even brighter. It’s also great as a winter treat to keep their body temperature high.

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds have a good bit of protein and essential fats, but again too much of it is NOT a good thing. Make sure you take the shells off before you add this to the chicken feed. You can find sunflower seeds at virtually any supermarket.

  • Natural yoghurt

Yoghurt is great for your flocks digestion system. Add a little probiotic yoghurt to their feed to promote healthy tummy bacteria and keep your hens fighting fit. It’s a good idea to make sure you keep an eye on the level of sugars in your supermarket brands and only buy natural.

silkie chickens eating natural yoghurt in backyard coop

Just like in a human diet, moderation is key. A good quality organic chicken feed and a secure chicken feeder is a great place to start. Have look at our breakdown of all the different types of chicken feed here.

Sources and further reading