What’s better than farm fresh eggs, with bright orange yolks, on toast with homemade butter? Pretty much nothing.

So you need to know what to feed your chickens for better tasting eggs…

These days, I can’t even compare my hens’ eggs to grocery store eggs. My hens produce wonderful, better tasting eggs with golden/orange yolks that have an incomparable taste (at least compared to grocery eggs).

When I look at one of my eggs, I see the chickens foraging in the sunshine, engaging in their own chicken politics, and gobbling up the treats I leave for them. There’s a lot of satisfaction in those eggs.

I’ve received a lot of questions about whether the color of eggs makes them taste different (yes because the color is indicative of what they’ve ingested) and my secrets to feeding for those coveted golden yolks.  Well, we’ve run LOTS of tests on our farm with our chickens – and we figured out what helped our chickens lay better eggs!

A wooden bowl with three eggs in it with their shells next to the bowl

Step 1: A High Protein Diet

The foundation of the diet for my flock is the wheatgrass fodder I grow. Wheatgrass is very high in protein, which is key to healthy chickens and better-tasting eggs. You can also use barley, but I use wheat because barley isn’t available in the quantities I need in my area, and I try to support local businesses.

I explain how to grow fodder in my How to Grow Fodder and Why You Should guide. They love eating the grass, and scratching through the remaining seeds to get at the roots! I use these Non-GMO seeds to grow fodder. It’s easy!

I also add alfalfa and grass hay, especially in winter. Who doesn’t love reminders of summer when you’re trapped inside? The alfalfa and hay add protein and they get to scratch through it to get to other tasty bits of their dinner. I’ve also found that kelp adds protein, iron, and a lot of necessary vitamins.

My hens love and recommend this kelp product:

Step 2: Fiber and Herbs

Along with the wheat grass, I add oatmeal, alfalfa, garlic (fresh or powdered), and dried oregano to my chicken’s feed. You can find those herbs in this non-GMO product I love:

The oatmeal provides fiber in an easy-to-break-down form. Recent studies have shown that garlic and oregano have antibiotic properties, and help keep hens healthy and disease-free.

In fact, some large egg operations have been able to eliminate antibiotics completely from their hens’ diets after adding oregano and garlic to their feed. They claim their hens have never been healthier. Chicken farmers in Italy have long touted that for better tasting eggs, a forage-based diet is the secret to golden yolks (calendula helps also!). I’ll take it.

Step 3: Fresh Foods

I don’t use a set recipe. I just sprinkle and mix. I also add kitchen scraps, as well as fresh veggies like cabbage, tomatoes (which they can pick through), etc. Since it’s winter and their water keeps freezing, the fresh veggies help them stay hydrated in addition to giving me better tasting eggs.

In warmer weather, I add weeds I pull from the garden, grass clippings, fallen fruit, etc to their diet. And they give me great tasting, golden yolked eggs. And a bonus? The garlic keeps the coop smelling nice!

This spring, I’m also going to add a mealworm farm to the homestead, specifically for the hens. I think they will love the added protein and “hunting” their own bugs (especially since, thanks to neighbor dogs, I can’t let them free range anymore). Black soldier fly larvae are also a good option. They have a lot of calcium in them. You can learn to more about them here or buy some dried ones for your hens at a good price here. For yolks that look like lovely balls of sunshine, I think the most important thing is happy hens that have a diet high in protein.

Bonus Egg Tips

  • Need to increase your eggshell strength? It’s easy with oyster shells! You can simply provide it free choice or mix a little in with your chicken’s feed.
  • Backyard chicken keepers often give supplements (such as viatmins and minerals) to their flocks to give them an immune system and nutrition boost. Here’s one of our favorites: Vital Nutrients
  • You can give vegetable and table scraps to chickens as a daily treat! They love them.
  • Mealworms are an excellent source of protein for your birds. They love dried mealworms like these.


Better tasting, brighter colored eggs are not rocket science…but they are science. The great news is that it’s simple science – high protein, fiber, herbs, and fresh foods. The better the ingredients you put into your flock, the better the eggs will be.


Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category.  Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.

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  1. My Grandmother feed laying mash scraps, let them run wild they eat grass bugs all day. They went to coop in evening shut them in every night .she had dark yokes good tasting eggs.

  2. I am enjoying reading your articles and have subscribed to your news letter. I am a newbie at this. So, I’m sure I will be in contact often. Lol My girls are now 6 weeks old and I’m ready to put them in their coop. I was reading about what you feed them…but there is not a recipe. I know you said you just mix…can you give me some kind of portions? I have six girls. Also, do they have to be a certain age before I can feed them this particular diet?
    Thanks so much for your time!!

    1. Hi Karen! If you’re looking for a specific recipe, you’ll love my article about making your own feeds here –> https://thefrugalchicken.com/organic-homemade-chicken-feed/ This feed is for layers. It would work for older pullets (after 16 weeks) as well. Just remember for layers to also offer a calcium supplement such as oyster shells too. I feed my hens 1 cup each per day (split between morning and night). You might have to feed more or less depending on your flock, but this is a good place to start. Hope this helps!

  3. My chickens have feed table scraps and free range. Their absolute favorite is papaya. We moved into a house with lots of papaya trees. Plenty to share. I also saw one if mine eat a lizard she caught.

    1. I feed my chickens fresh minced Garlic in cultured yogurt with some kind of mashed berries every other day, and they love it! I used to mince garlic and put it into a container in the coop, but it turned green and they did not eat it.

  4. I feed my girls laying pellets old fashion oats water melon grapes crandraisains cheereoes they killed the grass in ther hard I let them out to eat grass carrots I switch it up. Give them treats twice a day they are spoils they love bread

    1. My chickens “aren’t” eating the greens (lettuce, etc.) that I’m giving them from the garden. Why?

  5. The persons I used to by eggs from fed their chickens bananas. The kind you used to get at the grocer right before they threw them out. The chickens loved them. The eggs were the best I’ve ever had before or since. Thank you for your blog

      1. I have 7 girls and 6 of them just love bananas , ANNE on the other hand turns her beak up at it and looks at you as if to see you expect me to eat that ewww lol

  6. Hi im in Australia and have been seasrching for helpful hints re my chickens thank you for confirming what i have found .i feed my girls fermented wheat 250gm of cooked pasta some whole grain bread which is sold cheap at the end of the day kitchen scraps they have access to my compost area and the veggie garden but only during winter otherwise they free range of a day ‘ i add herbs etc to their nest boxes and hang herbs to dry in their hen house whuch then get spread into the nests and floor area i use a mixture of wood shavings and wood ash under their night roost rails ‘ to get then to lay during winter we have put in a light that comes on a couple of hours before sunrise iam in the process of planting a second herb garden around the coup for the sole use of the chickens i have used alime white wash to paint their new updated nesting boxes as they are made of wood their old ones had been metal again thank you for the information and i will continue to follow you

  7. I have a small operation with chickens and a few ducks. After AGES the ducks finally started laying and I LOVE their eggs. I have about thirty eggs in the incubator so I’m hoping for another thirty chickens in a month (right!).

    Here’s my question: I can tell the difference between the leghorn (white) eggs and the “others”, but I can’t tell the difference between the others. There are light brown, darker brown, spotted brown, but I don’t know which chickens they come from. I will do some experimenting in a bit, but would you know?

    How much garlic do you give them?

  8. We live on the Alaskan coast and I give my hens as much seaweed as I can collect and all the fresh salmon roe I can get they are very healthy. I’m got to try adding the garlic and oregano see if it makes a difference.

  9. We give our girls garlic, and we often buy them salmon they love it. We give them fresh lavender, marigolds, mints and various other herbs and in the winter we give them the dried herbs we saved from summer. Sometimes I even give them goldfish. Sounds mean, but we get the feeder fish from the pet store… and we put them in a “Pool” and my chickens love chasing them and eating them. We get dark gold yolks and our eggs are so good. 🙂

  10. I have 10 lovely Barred Rock hens. What do you think about planting clover and annual rye in range areas? I already have
    winter wheat and red clover up in one range area. Jo Ann in NC

  11. We had chickens when I was a teenager. We fed them everything, including chicken and eggs haha. When my mom would make a pork roast, I’d take the fat and skin and nasty stuff out to the coop and let the chickens and the rooster (cuddles) eat it all.
    I once watched my brother throw them a stick of butter which they LOVED! Not sure if it was good for them, but it was definitely hilarious! My wife and I are getting chickens in a few months. I’ll be feeding these ones better haha.

  12. Many have mentioned letting the chickens free range during the day, I would prefer to do this but our area has a VERY high raptor population–am I better off leaving them in their run/coop area? Thanks!

    1. Yes, if you think there’s a high likelihood they will get eaten. Another option is to give them supervised free range time where you’re watching them. Birds of prey are less likely to attack if a human is around.

  13. I had 4 hens but lost one to a coyote that forced its way under the chicken fence. Since then I added electric fence wire to the bottom of the fence. I had strung wire along the top of the fence to keep the racoons out. My chicken yard now looks like Alcatraz.

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