Round Table Farm

Donkeys, Goats, Books and Chickens

Omnivorous – Chickens Make It Look Easy

Chickens playing around in a leaf pile.

Chickens playing around in a leaf pile.

Some of you will be scratching your heads wondering why I am making a post about omnivorous chickens. For most of you, that’s because you a) have/had chickens, b) have/had some other bird, c) are a biologist of some sort, or d) pay attention to wildlife.

At least 3 times a year, I bump into folks who don’t know that chickens are omnivorous. Usually, they think chickens simply eat grain and wild seeds, perhaps a few flowers. Some folks understand that these birds eat insects. However, this subset of humanity doesn’t realize that chickens eat meat. Yes, they do. With gusto. Once or twice a year, we have to tidy up the hay pile and this entails moving all the wood pallets around and disturbing the mice nests. If the chickens are present for this chore, they make short, quick work of eating those mice. And once you have seen a chicken eat a mouse, you have no doubt whatsoever that they are indeed descended from the mighty T-rex. If you are an astute observer, then you also realize that if humans were a bit shorter or chickens rather larger, we might not be top of the food chain.

Have you ever bought those ‘vegetarian’ eggs from the store? Hehe. Someone has lied to you.

With that in mind, we often give our chickens bags of leaves and other landscaping plant left overs. They jump in these piles and root around for insects, seeds, and tender bits of plants. Quite frankly, they have a lot of fun too, being very talkative with each other. If you live in an urban area, you might consider finding a small farm to donate your bagged leaves to – which can be used for a variety of things.

Chickens enjoying some rejected human leftovers.

Chickens enjoying some rejected human leftovers.

I also give my chickens left overs from the kitchen. Roughly 70% of this is vegetable matter, but every once in a while they get some meat (never bird!). Whenever we butcher goat, there is always some oddments that go to the chickens. If we have some beef barley stew leftovers that managed to successfully play the fridge hide and seek game, they go to the chickens. We even had one of our big freezers die on us and unfortunately a pig roast had to be donated to the wee birdies. This lead to an interesting phone call from a neighbor whose dog had taken the roast home for a munch. I guess it’s good the dog was more interested in the nibbled-upon roast than in our chickens.

I have to say that out of all the things we give our birds, their top three things are tomato worms, beef stew, and rotten tomatoes. Yes, chickens are omnivorous.



  1. Very neat to learn! I’m also quite relieved to hear that you don’t let any cannibalism take place on your farm 🙂

    • Well…occasionally one of the hens will start eating eggs. Then she becomes a freezer chicken.

      • Cannibal inchickycide… disgusting. A just sentence, your highness! Such things test even the most benevolent of rulers 🙂

  2. We occasionally have a rat issue, and twice the girls have dispatched the invader on their own. I just clean up the bodies. Chickens are quite self-sufficient. Check out my new book, How to Raise Chickens,, for other interesting chicken facts.

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