Chickens are among the oldest domesticated animals, and they are reported to be the most plentiful type of domestic animals in the world. The domestic chicken is said to have descended from the Red Junglefowl and can now be found on every continent, where they are raised for their meat and eggs. There are also many uses for their feathers. These birds are small, hardy and easy to keep. They are a favorite food animal in even the most difficult climates and can easily adapt to a variety of conditions and diets. That said, what chickens eat varies widely according to how and where they're kept and for what purposes they're being raised. In addition to taking in nutrition, chickens also swallow small pebbles to help grind their food during the digestion process. Most commercial chicken feeds already have some type of grit in the recipe, though chickens that have access to the outdoors can swallow only what they need when it's needed.
Yes, there are chickens in the wild, and they're the descendants of domestically bred chickens. These, as well as the Junglefowl that are the wild cousins of domestic chickens, eat a widely varied diet from their local habitat. While the exact species they eat vary according to location, these chickens devour a wide range of seeds, berries, insects, arachnids and worms. These chickens are very opportunistic and will eat virtually anything that they can for a balanced diet.
Battery farm chicken production
Chickens raised in battery farms are on the other end of the spectrum from feral chickens. This type of production confines chickens to individual cages, generally with no access to the outdoors. Specific formulas have been developed for chicken feed that promotes the desired feature for the given farm. For instance, if it is a meat farm, then the chickens will generally be given nutrients that are conducive to rapid growth and large overall size. These chickens do not necessarily need to be fit for laying or have well-developed immune systems since they will be slaughtered at a young age.
On the other hand, laying hens must be fed a diet that protects their overall long-term health, while also promoting frequent egg-laying with high-quality shells and large eggs. Their feed will generally have a much more balanced formulation that more closely resembles that of hobby or home-raised chickens.
Chickens that are raised on a family farm or in a home may be for consumption, laying or for keeping as pets. These chickens will generally be fed a commercial feed consisting of seeds and pellets that are enriched with essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, most of these chickens will spend at least part of their time free-ranging outside, allowing them to eat insects, grasses and other such fresh foods. Many owners often feed their chickens scraps from the house as well, including stems, cores and other portions of fresh produce that humans do not usually eat. In general, any food that falls into the same categories as that which a feral chicken might eat is also safe for a domestic, home-raised chicken.