Treats for Chickens

A common question I get asked is “what treats can I give to my chickens?” There are of course no end of tasty greens that you can give to your girls that they will enjoy. Even a bucket load of weeds from the garden are a treat as they will scratch their way through them, sifting out the best bits, however if you would like to provide some really tasty treats that will help to tame your chickens to come to you when you want then insects or mealworms are really good for this.

The dried insects that you buy online are Gamma Irradiated & ozone steralised so they are pathogen free and  safe to use.

Insects for Chickens

insect treats for chickens

Insect Treats for Chickens CLICK TO BUY

Small insects can be added to your chickens feed or they can be fed to them by hand.

As you will see when your birds free range around the garden, they will eat any insects that fly or crawl close enough! Insects provide essential amino acids required for good health. The insects you can buy have been dried so will keep a long time so you can use them from time to time as healthy treats for your birds or to tame them. They can be scattered around the run to encourage natural foraging. If you are using these with young birds, soak them in water first to make them easier to digest.

Dried Maggots

maggot treats for chickens

Maggot Treats – CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

Dried maggots can be fed as treats for your chickens. They are high in fat and protein and provide lots of essential amino acids for your birds. As well as being a treat, they are useful to have in stock  for birds that are underweight, growing (due to their high protein / fat content) or recovering from illness.

Dried maggots keep for a long time and can be fed mixed with feed, scattered in the run to encourage foraging or soaked before use if feeding younger birds.

Dried Mealworms

Mealworm treats for taming chickens

Mealworm Treats – CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

Mealworms are the larvae of a beetle which feed on vegetables. Dried mealworms are probably the most popular treat that chicken keepers use to tame their birds.

Mealworms are high in protein, contain vitamins and high grade edible oils. Mealworms that you buy dried will like the other insects keep a long time and can be scattered around the run to encourage natural foraging. Again, if you are using these with young birds, soak them in water first to make them easier to digest.

Feather Pecking Boredom Buster

Insect Peck a Block

Insect Block Boredom Buster – CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

‘Occupational Health’ for chickens! This is another nutritional treat but this time one that can be useful to use as a boredom buster. Chickens may start feather pecking if they are bored in a run during the day. Feather pecking is a difficult vice to cure but often if you have treats like this peck-a-block hanging in the run and you scatter insects in the morning and a handful of mixed corn per bird (called ‘scratch’ in the US) to encourage foraging, you can often stop feather pecking that occurs through bordom.

The pecking block contains a mixture of insects, grains, seeds and herbal extracts.

Pecker Recker

Pecker Recker – CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

Uncle Jimmy’s Pecker Recker for Chickens shown to the right is also a popular choice that is available from the Millbry Hill pet website. You can go to their page for this by clicking on the image.

It is a  complimentary Poultry Feed that provides long lasting stimulation for chickens and again, helps with boredom in the run. They are very reasonable priced at only a few pound so several can be kept in stock and added to the run as required.

Where to Buy Insect Blocks

Amazon have a complete range of reasonably priced insect treats in various sizes that are suitable for chickens available from a number of different sellers. You can see the complete range here on this page.

40 Responses to Treats for Chickens

  1. Juliet says:

    I have three hens and am worried that in the winter months when I won’t be home until they have probably gone to bed, I will not have been able to gather eggs nor give them an afternoon treat. I suspect one hen of feather pecking as it is.
    Any advice please?

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Change jobs, the hens take priority.

      Oh OK then that’s silly! You could use an automatic coop door closer for a start to ensure they are shut in at dusk come what may, but also remember they don’t really need afternoon treats… They will survive well on a standard commercial feed with lots of greens left for them in the morning. Weekends could be treat time 😉

  2. Nigel says:

    Does anyone know if it is ok to give chickens mealworms that are on sale for wild birds.

  3. Stephen says:

    can anybody clarify the legal status of these insect treats. They are obviously available to purchase yet regulations seem to indicate that insects are not approved for use as feed except in fish and shellfish.

  4. Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency says:

    EU animal by-products and TSE regulations mean that mealworms should not be fed to poultry.

    Dried crustaceans, such as river shrimps and dried terrestrial invertebrates, such as mealworms, are usually imported into UK in accordance with Annex XIV, Chapter IV, Section 2 of Regulation (EU) No 142/2011, “the competent authority may authorise the importation of certain materials for purposes other than feeding to farmed land animals (except for feeding to fur animals) provided there is no unacceptable risk for the transmission of diseases communicable to humans or animals”.

    A summary of the EU ABP & TSE legislation relating to this is as follows:

    • Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates imported in this way are not considered to be processed animal protein (PAP), as they have not been processed in accordance with the Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulations.

    • Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates cannot be imported as feed for poultry under provisions in the ABP Regulations, which prevent the import of certain materials, including invertebrates, for feeding to farmed livestock.

    • Under Article 31 of Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates need to be processed to be used in feed for farmed animals.

    • However, if terrestrial invertebrates are processed, in accordance with the ABP Regulations then they do become PAP and are prevented from being fed to poultry under TSE rules.

    • Aquatic invertebrates, processed in accordance with the ABP Regulations become fishmeal and can be used in feed for poultry under authorisation conditions.

    • All poultry, including those kept as ‘pets’ are considered as farmed animals under the Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulations and the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Regulations.

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. I have added this information to our page on animal by-product regulations and linked into this with a comment at the end of our page on feeding chickens.

  5. Sally says:

    Can you feed chickens live maggots and mealworms as a treat

  6. Mrswoodyuk says:

    My chicken loves to eat grapes, is this ok to feed them to her?

  7. Susan McCassey says:

    I have recently taken over looking after 3 hens from friends who have moved away. I found a soft egg shell in amongst the poo when cleaning the other day and I found this morning “Pearl” just laid the contents of the egg but no shell????? looking at her vent I noticed the very soft shell remains so I gently pulled it out, but it dose no appear to be a complete shell, very deformed, how do I help her get the rest out because I am aware that she can get very sick, and die. They are very free range in my back yard now, but I think they were confined to a run before coming to me, How can I prevent this from happening again. Not sure on the age of the girls

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      If you wait, it will probably come out naturally. Normally soft eggs are nothing to worry about, they appear from time to time, usually at the beginning or the end of a laying period. Just make sure the hens have oyster shell grit and they should have enough calcium to make strong shells.

  8. David says:

    Hi I’ve read that you shouldn’t feed chickens dried meal worms and only live ones is this correct ?

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Technically in the UK you shouldn’t feed them at all (according to Defra we’re not allowed to feed meat / animal products etc. after the BSE outbreak) but in reality, backyard chickens are often fed meal worms. Personally I would say they are a very low risk of causing problems.

      Why wouldn’t dried meal worms be suitable? There is a lot of information on line some is not so good, especially on self professed ‘chicken expert’ blogs, usually from the U.S. If you are unsure, check a site such as poultrykeeper.com you shouldn’t go far wrong there – they update their articles if something isn’t correct and they usually use published authors and vets to write for them.

  9. Paul says:

    Any problems with feeding peanuts as a treat

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      I guess wild birds eat them, I have never tried them on chickens though – they may be a little big if fed whole.

  10. Sandra Metcalfe says:

    What about slugs and worms it’s the sort of thing that they grab while foraging?

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