5 Essential Foods Farm Chickens Peck Eat Everyday

Chickens have favorite foods like seeds, grains, fruits, and insects that keep them healthy and happy, showcasing their joy through enthusiastic pecking.

what do chickens eat on a farm

Chickens are not just farmyard animals; they’re enthusiastic eaters with distinct preferences. Let’s delve into the top foods that make chickens peck with joy, ensuring they’re not only well-fed but also content with their meals.

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1. Pecking for Joy: Chicken Favorites

In the yard colorful beautiful rooster walking proudly in the background of other poultries

Chickens are natural foragers, constantly pecking at the ground in search of tasty morsels. Their favorites tend to be foods that not only satisfy their hunger but also engage their instincts. Observing chickens as they enthusiastically peck at their preferred treats is a clear indication of their joy.

Among the variety of foods chickens enjoy, certain items stand out as particular favorites. These include seeds, grains, fruits, and insects, which provide not only nutrition but also the excitement of the hunt. The joy chickens exhibit while pecking at these foods is akin to a treasure hunt, with each peck potentially uncovering a delicious prize.

Happy chickens are productive chickens, and providing them with foods they love is key to their well-being. By catering to their pecking preferences, farmers can ensure their flock is both healthy and high-spirited. It’s a simple yet effective way to keep chickens clucking contentedly in their coops.

2. Seeds Galore: A Chicken’s Delight

chickens eating corn

Seeds are like nature’s candy for chickens, packed with essential nutrients and the perfect size for pecking. Sunflower seeds, in particular, are a chicken favorite due to their high-fat content and rich taste. Chickens will often be seen scratching and pecking at the ground with gusto when seeds are scattered around.

Pumpkin and sesame seeds are also high on the list of chicken delights. Not only are they tasty, but they also provide a good source of protein and other vital nutrients. Farmers can spread these seeds around the coop or mix them into feed to give chickens a joyous foraging experience.

Chickens find seeds irresistible, and this natural food source keeps them engaged and entertained. The act of pecking and scratching for seeds simulates natural foraging behaviors, which is excellent for their mental well-being. A handful of seeds can transform an ordinary day into a feast of fun for these feathered friends.

3. Greens and Leaves: Healthy Pecks

Leafy greens are not only for health-conscious humans; chickens too benefit greatly from a diet rich in vegetables. Kale, lettuce, and spinach are some of the greens chickens love to peck at, often tearing them into shreds with enthusiasm. These leafy delights provide essential vitamins and minerals, which contribute to the overall health of the flock.

Herbs like parsley and cilantro are also welcomed with joyous pecks. These greens not only add variety to the chickens’ diet but also have the added bonus of being natural health boosters, supporting their immune system and digestion. Farmers can hang bunches of greens in the coop or scatter leaves on the ground to encourage natural foraging behavior.

Chickens relish the chance to peck at fresh greens, and this activity is beneficial for their physical and mental health. The act of foraging for these nutritious leaves keeps chickens active and engaged, which is vital for their well-being. Greens and leaves are truly a win-win when it comes to chicken feed.

In the video, Food Farmer Earth explains-

  1. Chickens enjoy eating a variety of weeds and vegetables from the garden as treats. Queen Anne’s lace and kale leaves are examples.
  2. Chop greens into tiny pieces or use a food processor to make them easily digestible for chickens.
  3. Avoid feeding long fibrous materials like grass clippings that chickens may choke on.
  4. Chickens recognize when plants have wilted or gone bad and tend to avoid those.
  5. Be careful with weeds that chickens don’t normally have access to all parts of; only feed the greens, not the roots.
  6. Chickens will eat both fresh, living grass and brown, wilted grass but prefer the fresh.
  7. Tufts of grass with dirt underneath are enticing to chickens as they can search for bugs.
  8. Neighbors may mean well by providing grass clippings but long pieces pose digestion threats.
  9. Monitor crop area on chicken’s neck for blockages if feeding fibrous materials.
  10. Balance green treats with proper daily nutrition including commercial feed.
Food Farmer Earth

4. Protein Treats: Bugs and Worms

hen in a chicken coop in the wild. hen eating an earthworm

Insects and worms are a valuable source of protein for chickens and a natural part of their diet. Watching chickens chase after a scurrying bug or unearth a juicy worm is a clear sign of their predatory instincts at work. These protein treats are not only delicious for chickens but also provide the necessary amino acids for feather growth and egg production.

Mealworms, in particular, are a chicken’s dream snack. They’re easy to digest, high in protein, and can be given as a special treat or mixed in with regular feed. The excitement chickens display when presented with these wriggly morsels is unmistakable.

Farmers can encourage a healthy ecosystem in their yards by allowing chickens to free-range, where they can naturally hunt for bugs and worms. Alternatively, supplementing their diet with store-bought insects can ensure they receive enough protein. This form of feeding stimulates their natural behaviors and keeps them pecking happily.

5. Grains for Brains: Smart Feeding

A light-colored hen holds a grain of wheat in its beak on a feeder close-up

Grains are a staple in a chicken’s diet, providing a solid foundation of carbohydrates, proteins, and essential nutrients. Corn, wheat, and oats are particularly favored grains that chickens will energetically peck and scratch for. These grains help to keep chickens full and provide the energy they need to go about their daily activities.

Feeding whole grains can also be a stimulating activity for chickens, as it mimics the natural foraging process. This not only keeps their minds sharp but also ensures they are getting exercise as they peck and scratch at the ground. It’s a simple yet effective way to keep chickens both mentally and physically active.

Moreover, grains like quinoa and barley can be introduced to add variety and extra nutritional benefits to their diet. Farmers can mix these grains into the chickens’ feed or scatter them around the coop to create a fun and fulfilling foraging experience. Grains truly are brain food for chickens, keeping them healthy and engaged.

6. Fruits Chickens Love to Nibble

hen and rooster eating watermelon on the grass

Fruits are a sweet treat for chickens and a great way to add antioxidants and vitamins to their diet. Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries are among the fruits that chickens will peck at with visible pleasure. The natural sugars in fruits provide a quick energy boost, while the act of pecking at these juicy treats is a delightful pastime for the birds.

Chickens are also fond of pecking at apples and pears, which can be hung in the coop or cut into pieces and scattered around. These fruits not only keep the chickens busy but also help to keep them hydrated, especially on hot days. The variety of flavors and textures that fruits offer can enhance the chickens’ overall dining experience.

Introducing fruits into a chicken’s diet should be done in moderation, as too much sugar can lead to health issues. However, when given as an occasional treat, fruits can be a source of joy and nutrition for chickens. Watching a flock of chickens devour a piece of fruit is a testament to their love for these sweet, natural snacks.

7. The Joy of Pecking Vegetables

hungry chickens eat cabbage in the garden

Vegetables are another healthy addition to a chicken’s diet that they will eagerly peck at. Squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes are particularly popular, providing hydration and a range of nutrients. Chickens enjoy the act of pecking at these veggies, and the different textures and tastes add excitement to their daily routine.

Root vegetables like carrots and beets can be given to chickens either raw or cooked. These vegetables are not only nutritious but also fun for chickens to peck at and can be dangled from strings or left on the ground for them to discover. The vibrant colors of these vegetables also attract chickens, making mealtime a visually stimulating experience.

By growing a variety of vegetables in the garden, farmers can provide their chickens with a constant supply of fresh pecks. This not only ensures that the chickens are eating a balanced diet but also reduces food waste by utilizing leftover veggie scraps. The joy chickens exhibit while pecking at their vegetable treats is a clear sign of their enjoyment.

8. Calcium Boost: Chickens’ Choice

Calcium is crucial for chicken health, particularly for laying hens, as it strengthens eggshells. Oyster shell supplements are a common way to provide this essential mineral, and chickens will peck at them enthusiastically. These supplements can be offered in a separate dish or mixed with their regular feed.

Another source of calcium for chickens is crushed eggshells. After using eggs, farmers can rinse and bake the shells to sterilize them, then crush them into small pieces for chickens to peck at. This recycling process not only provides a necessary nutrient but also reduces waste.

Chickens instinctively know when they need a calcium boost and will seek out these supplements with eagerness. Providing a regular supply of calcium-rich foods ensures that chickens maintain strong bones and healthy egg production. The joy chickens take in pecking at these calcium sources is a natural way to keep them in top condition.

In the video, Country Living Experience explains-

  1. Calcium is essential for chicken bone health, feather production, and egg production. Lack of calcium leads to health issues like thin egg shells and egg binding.
  2. Hard egg shells are important so eggs can pass through the chicken’s reproductive system properly. Soft or thin shells increase risk of egg binding which can be fatal.
  3. Signs of calcium deficiency are dark spots, thinning areas, and cracks in egg shells. Extremely thin shells indicate a more serious issue.
  4. Good natural calcium sources are leafy greens like kale, chard, carrot tops, and collard greens. Chickens should receive these regularly.
  5. Layer feed contains formulated calcium levels. Special high-calcium feed is available for improved egg production.
  6. Oyster shell and crushed coral provide supplemental dietary calcium. These should be offered free choice, not mixed into feed.
  7. Some add calcium supplements to the water which provides calcium without changing diet. The video creator avoids this.
  8. Eggshells are a calcium source but can encourage egg eating. The video creator avoids feeding shells for that reason.
  9. Grubterra black soldier fly larvae are very high in calcium compared to other chicken snacks like mealworms.
  10. Grubterra works to divert food waste, providing an environmental benefit. The video creator partnered with them.
Country Living Experience

9. Herbs for Health: Chicken Picks

Organic domestic chicken on a sustainable farm. Concept healthy food. High quality photo

Herbs are not only flavorful additions to our meals but also provide numerous health benefits for chickens. Aromatic herbs like oregano, thyme, and mint are particular favorites that chickens will happily peck at. These herbs can boost the immune system, act as natural antibiotics, and even repel pests.

Incorporating fresh or dried herbs into the chickens’ environment can improve coop conditions and provide a sensory experience for the birds. Chickens will often be found pecking at these herbs and may even use them to create a more aromatic nesting area. The health benefits coupled with the enjoyment chickens get from these herbs make them an excellent choice for any coop.

Farmers can grow a small herb garden near the chicken coop or scatter herbs within the enclosure. This not only provides chickens with easy access to their favorite pecks but also encourages a more natural and sustainable way of farming. Herbs truly are a chicken’s pick when it comes to adding natural health boosters to their diet.

10. Mixing It Up: Balanced Diet Tips

free range, healthy brown organic chickens and a white rooster on a green meadow. Selective sharpness. Several chickens out of focus in the background. Atmospheric back light, evening light

A balanced diet is key to keeping chickens healthy and happy. It’s important to offer a variety of foods to ensure chickens receive all the necessary nutrients. A mix of grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and protein sources can keep chickens engaged and satisfied.

Farmers should aim to provide a base diet of quality commercial feed, which is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of chickens. This can be supplemented with the treats and favorites discussed earlier to add excitement and additional nutrients to their diet.

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