Feeding Chicks: When to Introduce Greens and Treats

Feeding chickens a nutritious and balanced diet is crucial for their health and happiness. Although most chicken keepers begin with chick feed, many supplement their flock’s diet with greens and other treats. In this article, I’ll share my experience with feeding my chickens greens and other goodies, as well as what I learned along the way.

When did I start feeding my chickens greens?

I’ve been raising chickens for a few years now and began introducing my chicks to various types of food pretty early on. Although chick feed is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of baby chicks, it’s always beneficial to supplement their diet with fresh greens and other nutritious treats.

I typically start by offering my chicks apple slices right away. Apples are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and provide the chicks with an enjoyable activity. I recall watching my chicks running all over the brooder with their prized pieces of sliced grape or apple, having fun chasing each other for hours.

Like a mother hen would, I started introducing other foods a few days after the chicks hatched, along with some grit. If the weather permits, I even put chicks on pasture a few days old. I strive to mimic nature as much as possible, and if a mama hen says it’s okay, so do I.

When can chicks start eating greens?

Technically, chicks can start eating greens as soon as they consume grit. Grit aids in proper food digestion, and without it, chicks won’t be able to process food in their gizzards. When the chicks reach approximately four weeks of age, I gradually introduce canned corn in small amounts since their stomachs aren’t used to it yet.

It’s critical to ensure that the food pieces are small enough that the chicks won’t choke on them since they tend to inhale anything they recognize as food. Some other foods I feed my chickens include yogurt, oatmeal, oats, and fresh fruit. I always research what is safe to feed them since many toxins can be harmful to chickens.

When do chicks start free-ranging?

My chicks usually start free-ranging when they are around five weeks old, weather permitting. I typically place them in a small coop in the yard from around 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then return them to the brooder for the night. By the time they reach a few months old, they free-range during the day and only eat, drink, lay eggs, and sleep in the pens at night.

It’s crucial to ensure that the chicks have access to clean water and plenty of shade during the hot summer months. I usually feed them in the morning, but mine are raised as our grandparents did it, with chickens running around in the yard.

When can chicks start eating meat?

If they are free-ranging, chicks can begin eating meat pretty early on. I recall a hen raising chicks last summer and having them outside and free-ranging by two days old. Within three to five weeks, they were eating everything they could fit in their mouths, including meat from animal carcasses.


Feeding chickens a well-balanced diet is essential to their health and well-being. Although chick feed is an excellent source of nutrition, supplementing their diet with fresh greens and other healthy treats is always beneficial. By mimicking nature as much as possible, you can ensure that your chicks are happy, healthy, and free-ranging in no time.

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About Jade Polystead

Jade is a homesteader with a passion for raising and caring for animals, specifically chickens, ducks, and goats. She was born and raised in a small town in the midwestern United States, where she learned to appreciate the simple pleasures of rural living.

Jade's interest in animal husbandry began at a young age when her family kept a small flock of chickens in their backyard. She quickly fell in love with the birds and became fascinated by their unique personalities and behaviors. As she grew older, Jade's interest in animal husbandry expanded to include other domesticated animals, such as ducks and goats.

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