What to Feed Chickens to Make Them Lay Eggs: 16 Healthy Treats for Year-Round Egg Production

Article Summary

  • Proper nutrition from quality feed and supplements, along with other factors like free-ranging, providing sufficient daylight, and managing stress, help increase egg production.
  • Offering treats like protein-rich cracklings, cooked pasta, rice, vegetables, and live mealworms can boost egg production.
  • Proper coop hygiene is essential to promote chicken health and egg production.

Raising backyard chickens for fresh eggs is rewarding, but getting good egg production depends on providing your flock with the right nutrition. The key is feeding a balanced diet formulated to meet their needs. Here’s what you need to know about chicken feed for great egg laying.

Understanding the Required Nutrients for Egg Production

To ensure optimal chicken health and egg production, it is crucial to understand the required nutrients that chickens need in their diet.

Providing the right balance of nutrients is essential for promoting egg-laying in chickens. So, what to feed chickens to make them lay eggs?

Close up of Brown Chicken Eggs
Close-up of Brown Chicken Eggs


Chickens require a high-protein diet to support egg production. A good source of protein for chickens is soybean meal, which contains essential amino acids necessary for egg development. Other protein-rich options include fish meal, meat scraps, and dried insects.


Calcium is vital for producing strong eggshells. Lack of calcium can lead to thin or weak shells, making them prone to breakage.

To ensure sufficient calcium intake, offer crushed oyster shells or ground limestone as a supplement. Additionally, providing access to free-choice grit can aid in calcium absorption.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chickens need a lot of these for overall health and egg production. Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption, so allowing chickens exposure to natural sunlight or providing a vitamin D supplement is important.

Vitamin E and selenium are also essential for reproductive health and can be found in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and leafy greens.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Including omega-3 fatty acids in the chicken’s diet can enhance the nutritional value of the eggs. Flaxseed, fish oil, and algae are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that can be added to the feed.


While not a nutrient, water is vital for egg production. Chickens require constant access to clean and fresh water to stay hydrated and maintain egg production.

By providing a well-balanced diet that includes adequate protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and water, you can ensure that your chickens are healthy and productive layers.

Consulting with a poultry nutritionist or veterinarian can also help tailor the diet to meet the specific needs of your flock. Remember, spending time in a day is a way to monitor your flock.

16 Healthy Foods to Feed Chickens

Chickens are delightful creatures that reward us with fresh eggs. To ensure that your girls produce eggs consistently throughout the year, it’s essential to provide them with a nutritious diet.

One of the most commonly asked questions by poultry enthusiasts is, “What to feed chickens to make them lay eggs?”

To address this query and help you boost egg production, here are 16 healthy foods you can incorporate into your birds’ diet:

Layer Feed

This is a commercial feed specifically formulated for laying hens. It contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that support egg production.

Protein-Rich Grains

Foods like soybeans, sunflower seeds, and peas are excellent sources of protein. Protein aids in the development of strong eggshells and supports overall hen health.

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens For Chickens
Leafy Greens For Chickens

Vegetables such as kale, spinach, and lettuce are packed with vitamins and minerals. They also provide antioxidants that benefit the reproductive health of chickens. These greens contain a variety of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. However, it’s unlikely for chickens to show an immediate interest in greens as they tend to sweet taste or denser starches, such as bread.

Calcium Sources

Foods like oyster shells, crushed eggshells, cottage cheese (be mindful of uneaten cottage cheese during warmer weather), and limestone provide the necessary calcium for strong eggshell formation.


A favorite treat for many chickens, mealworms are high in protein and can be fed dried or live as an occasional treat. The thing is, give this treat sparingly—ten mealworms per chicken is plenty enough.


Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and nutrients, promoting overall health and potentially enhancing egg quality.


These seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase the nutritional value of eggs.


Rich in vitamins and fiber, pumpkins can be fed fresh or as seeds. They also act as a natural dewormer for chickens.


This vegetable is a great source of fiber and vitamins. It can be fed raw or lightly steamed.


Boiled Corn For Chickens
Boiled Corn For Chickens

A staple in many chicken diets, corn provides energy, and notice your chickens find eating corn a fun experience.


Rich in beta-carotene, carrots can be chopped or grated and fed to chickens for a boost in vitamins.


A natural source of iodine, seaweed can be beneficial for overall chicken health.


Known for its antibacterial properties, garlic can help boost immunity and improve the overall health of your flock.

Apple Cider Vinegar

When added to drinking water in small amounts, apple cider vinegar can aid digestion and promote a healthy gut.


Probiotic-rich yogurt can support digestive health, and this food is essential to chickens’ nutrition.


Plants like parsley, basil, and mint can be added to the diet in moderation, offering both nutritional and flavor benefits.


Incorporate these 16 healthy foods into their daily or weekly feeding regimen to provide your hens with the essential nutrients they need.

Ensuring a diverse and nutritious diet is crucial for maximizing egg production in chickens. Remember, a well-fed chicken is a happy chicken that rewards you with delicious and nutritious eggs year-round.

Providing a Quality Layer Feed

A complete layer feed is essential for egg production. This feed is specially formulated with the right ratio of protein, fat, and nutrients chickens need to thrive and lay eggs.

Look for a feed with at least 16% protein that also contains sufficient calcium for egg shell strength.

Free-Range Chickens Eating Feeds
Free-Range Chickens Eating Feeds

Aside from the right feed, proper feeding is also essential. When should you start feeding layer feed?

Pullets around 16-18 weeks old are ready for a switch from a starter feed to a laying ration. Continue feeding a quality layer feed throughout your hens’ egg laying years.

Supplementing with Calcium for Egg Shells

Eggshells require significant calcium, so a free choice calcium supplement ensures your chickens get enough. Offer oyster shell, crumbled limestone, or a commercial calcium supplement free choice so they can consume as needed.


Adding a sprinkling of oats, wheat, or treats like mealworms on top encourages hens to eat more calcium supplement. Adequate calcium results in stronger eggs less prone to cracking.

Treats That Promote High Production

In addition to layer feed, supplementing treats can further boost egg laying. Cracklings from rendering fat into lard are full of protein. Cooked pasta, rice, or potatoes provide carbohydrates for energy.

Vegetables like spinach and kale supply important vitamins and minerals. Live mealworms are a tasty source of protein that chickens love.

Offer treats in the late afternoon when hens are most actively foraging…

Offer treats, like oatmeal, apples, watermelon, and lots of other fruit, in the late afternoon when hens are most actively foraging, something to peck and encourage intake and egg production.

With proper nutrition from quality feed and supplements, you’ll enjoy a bounty of eggs from your backyard flock. Adjust feed as needed based on production to keep your chickens laying at their peak.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I give my chickens to help them lay eggs?

Supplementing chicken feed with oyster shell, grit, and calcium rich treats like yogurt, greens, and scrambled eggs helps chickens get the nutrients they need for quality egg production. Providing a balanced layer feed is also key.

How can I get my chickens to lay more eggs naturally?

Allowing chickens to free range, giving them at least 10 hours of daylight, providing laying boxes, keeping stress low, and feeding a nutrient rich diet are natural ways to increase egg production. Staying on top of chicken health is also important.

Why are my chickens not laying eggs due to feed?

Chickens may stop laying eggs if their feed lacks proper nutrients, they are fed inconsistently, or significant diet changes have occurred. Ensure they have access to a high-quality complete layer feed.

Does cayenne pepper help chickens lay eggs?

Yes, adding a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to chicken feed can help stimulate egg laying. The capsaicin may increase blood flow and nutrient absorption. It also adds variation to their diet.

Will chickens stop laying if coop is dirty?

Yes, chickens can stop laying eggs if their coop becomes too dirty. A filthy, cramped coop causes stress. Clean the coop regularly removing all manure and old bedding, and provide adequate space per chicken. Proper hygiene is key for laying.