The Ultimate Guide For Chicken Feed At Your Backyard



Updated on 12/3/2023
Emma DowneyBy Emma Downey
Gardening Expert
Learn More about Emma Downey

It seems like an excellent plan to start a backyard chicken coop, doesn't it? You could be scratching your head about how you'll feed them if you know very little about poultry; other than that, baby chicks are gorgeous and have cute little fluff on their bodies. There is no need to worry because this chicken feed guide contains all the information you require.

Chickens are only a few inches tall, but they can really put up a fight when they want to! It takes a lot of energy for them to keep up with all of that clucking, not to mention developing feathers and laying eggs.

Because of this, you need to give careful consideration to the issue of chicken feed. If you don't do that, the eggs you collect won't have a very delicious flavor.

In this article, we will illustrate all there is to know about chicken feed, beginning with the essential nutrients that young chicks require and progressing all the way up to the diet that is ideal for laying hens. You won't leave this lesson without knowing everything from pellets to grit to scratch.

When we're done teaching you, you'll have the experience and knowledge of a lifelong farmer, even if you've never worked a farm before. Well, almost.

What Does It Mean To Feed Chickens?



Chicken feed is what the little guys need to maintain their silence and continue developing. And flourish if you provide a healthy diet for them.

When I was younger, feeding the chicken consisted of tossing grains at them to supplement whatever food they could find on the property.

The scientific foundation of today's chicken feed ensures that the birds consume the optimal proportions of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

The diet of your chickens has a direct bearing on the quality of the eggs they produce. Put another way, and you have to pay attention to the dietary requirements specific to each stage of their development.

Fun fact

Did you know that when a rooster finds food, he makes the sound of "took, took, took" to let the other hens in the flock know that he's discovered something to eat? However, chickens very much ignore him if they are already aware of the presence of food in the area.

The Terminology Of Chicken Feed



In case you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to chicken feed, here are a few crucial terminologies. These are primarily concerned with the manner in which the various kinds of chicken feed are served.

Pay close attention since these terms are printed on shopping bags sold in retail establishments.


Pellets: are simply your standard chicken feed that has been compressed into pellet form. And it is less cumbersome to manipulate, and its compact shape is intended to cut down on waste.


Crumbles are the same food as pellets but crumbled up into smaller pieces. Crumbles are much simpler to consume, and they are lovely for young chicks that are hungry as well as aged hens.


Mash the unprocessed form of chicken feed, and it is highly suggested for use with baby chicks because it is simpler for them to digest. It is more of a powdered food than anything else, and you may eat it dry or add liquid to it. You may make a sort of porridge for the chickens that they really enjoy by using boiling water.


Ferment is any kind of chicken feed that has been blended with water and left to be simple for the chickens' digestive systems to process. Place some dinner inside of a bucket and then pour clean water over the top of it. Before feeding it to your chickens, let it sit out at room temperature for forty-eight hours while adding water every so often.

As a helpful piece of advice, you may give your chicken medicated food containing coccidiostat to shield them from the effects of coccidian parasites.

Essential Requirements For Chicken Feed



If you want your chicken to be content and healthy throughout its life, you need to ensure that the food it eats contains all the necessary nutrients. These nutrients are comparable to those that are required by humans, although on a much smaller scale due to their size.

Providing hens with the necessary vitamins through their diet.


Proteins are essential for the growth and development of muscles and are found in grains like oats, wheat, and corn, which are excellent protein sources for all chicken varieties. There is also the possibility of including animal-derived proteins in chicken feed, such as fishmeal.


Vitamins All of the vitamins that belong to the B group, which are present in grains, as well as vitamins A, D, and E. Vitamins Egg production relies heavily on vitamin A and cannot be healthy without it. Eggshells that are too narrow result from a vitamin D shortage, while a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to poor growth, loss of appetite, and even nervous system issues.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, iron, and copper sulfate. The quality of the eggshell suffers when calcium and phosphorus are in short supply.


Fiber is essential because it helps "keep things moving," as the saying goes. Insoluble fiber is used as a stomach filler by birds, which helps accelerate the gastrointestinal tract's natural flow. Grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber.


Enzymes make it easier for chickens to digest the nutrients in their feed. We routinely include them in the food that we give to our chickens. Enzymes.


Omega-3 Although it's possible that chickens don't actually require this Omega-3, the eggs that they lay will have a larger concentration of this fatty acid, which is something that you, as a farmer, do require. Consequently, you will be doing yourself a favor if you ensure that the chicken feed contains omega-3.

As a fun fact, to lay a dozen eggs, a hen must consume approximately four pounds of grain.

Different Kinds Of Food For Chickens



The age of your chickens is the most critical factor in determining the ideal diet for them. Egg-laying hens have different food requirements than baby chicks, much as infants require breast milk rather than a juicy steak when they are first born.

And don't forget that different breeds of chicken have different dietary requirements!

Starter Chicken Feed

For the first six weeks of their lives, newborn chicks need to consume food that is high in proteins in order for them to develop properly and remain healthy.

The protein level of starter chicken feed must be between 20 and 24 percent, and it also needs to contain carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.

A well-known fact is that newborn chicks require constant access to clean water.

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Grower Chicken Feed

Once they reach the age of six weeks, chicks are considered to be adolescents. If they are given adequate food and water, chickens between the ages of 6 and 20 weeks will experience no signs of unhappiness.

They require chicken feed with a lower percentage of protein, between 16 and 18 percent, and it is essential to cut back on the amount of protein consumed in order to safeguard the kidneys. They also have a lower requirement for vitamins and minerals than young chicks because of their slower growth rate.

Tip: An excellent snack option for poultry that is high in protein should be little worms that have been harvested after a rain shower.

Layer Chicken Feed



When your birds reach 20 weeks of age or when they begin laying eggs, they are considered mature chickens and require a diet that differs from that of younger chickens.

Fact egg-laying is at its peak throughout the spring and summer months.

The protein content of layer chicken feed is between 16 and 18 percent, which is the same as that of grower chicken feed. However, there is a significant increase in calcium in layer chicken feed, which helps produce eggs with hard, crunchy shells.

It's interesting to know that the most eggs that a chicken has ever laid in a single day are seven. The record number of eggs a chicken lays in a single year is 371, setting a new world record in the process.

Grit From Shells

In order to digest their food correctly, chickens require grit, which consists of sand and small pebbles.

The standard chicken feed can be improved by including ground-up oyster shells, cockle shells, egg shells, and limestone as an essential source of calcium. This will also benefit the digestive system of the chickens.

A helpful hint for maintaining the health and happiness of your chickens is to fill their feeder with ground oyster shells.

Scratch Chicken



The act of rewarding your chickens with chicken scratches for good behavior is analogous to giving them a treat.

Scratch may not be as healthy as standard chicken feed. Still, it is nevertheless widely used because the majority of its ingredients are seeds, including corn, barley, oats, wheat, sunflower seeds, milo, and millet. This makes it a popular alternative.

Important: Because scratch contains a lower-than-ideal amount of protein, you shouldn't offer it to them on a daily basis.

Organic Poultry Food For Chickens

According to its name, organic chicken feed does not contain any artificial hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides, or any other types of chemicals.

To put it another way, it is typically the chicken feed that is the healthiest option for you to provide for your birds, given that it has enough quantity of protein and nutrients.

Important: In order for organic chicken feed to be considered authentically organic, each component of the feed, including but not limited to wheat, barley, peas, flaxseed meal, maize, soybeans, molasses, fish meal, and so on, must be independently certified as organic. Carefully read all of the labels!

How To Create Your Own Chicken Feed As A Do-It-Yourself Project

chicken feed

chicken feed

What is the point of making your own chicken feed? It is less expensive than buying it and safer because you know every ingredient. And the level of complexity is relatively low.

Purchase the components in large quantities and keep them in a dry, calm, and dark location. After you have gathered all of the necessary components, you should combine them and then make some food bags in advance. After all, you do not want to have to spend time every day preparing lunch for your flock, do you?

A helpful hint is to put homemade feed in a container with a tight lid since this will deter rats from getting in. Never prepare very large quantities! When chicken feed is kept for an extended amount of time, it runs the risk of becoming moldy, in which case it must be thrown away.

Equipment You'll Need

The term "equipment" may be overly broad for what truly is an effortless operation. The only things you actually require are:

  • Grinder
  • Sacks
  • Storage bin

If you have a large farm with a lot of poultry, you will most likely require a grinder that is designed for commercial use.

What Ingredients Should Be Included In Your Chicken Food



Chickens were designed to consume grains, as well as anything else, like worms, grass, and pebbles, that they could locate to eat. They are simple to care for and can do well on a diet that is primarily composed of grains.

The percentages that are displayed below are approximations. If you give your chickens a little bit more corn one day and a little more peas the next day, they won't have any problems.

Just make sure that they consume a diet that is sufficiently diverse so that they may acquire all of the necessary nutrients.

Essential Components For Making Your Own Chicken Feed

  • Corn 30%
  • Wheat 30%
  • Peas 20%
  • Oats 10%
  • fish meal 10%

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Additional Components For Your Own Homemade Chicken Feed


Kelp is an excellent source of various nutrients, including carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Poultry Nutri Balancer

Poultry Nutri Balancer is a supplement full of the vitamins and minerals your chicken needs.


Aragonite is another source of calcium, which is a mineral that can be found in deposits in hot springs.

Eggshell Powder

Eggshell powder is the least expensive source of calcium supplementation (you can grind the shells in a coffee grinder)

Grit From Shells

It's a well-known fact that chickens can sense salty but not sweetness. It would be a waste of time to give them chocolates in that case!

Best Chicken Feed



Because many different kinds of chicken feed are available, making a decision can be very challenging.

Because you cannot take your chicks to the shop and ask them to choose one, but instead must keep them in the chicken coop that you built yourself, here are some samples of good chicken food that you may use as a starting point.

Scratch-And-Peck Feeds (S&P Feeds)

In addition to being a certified organic, soy-free chicken feed for your egg-laying hens, this can also be considered a gourmet diet for your chicken (and ducks, if you also keep ducks).

K Kalmbach Feeds

This item was developed in particular for the purpose of feeding baby chicks; nevertheless, it may also be utilized for the purpose of feeding birds that are up to 16 weeks old. In order to keep a healthy digestive tract, it is fortified with probiotics and amino acids.

Prairie’s Choice

It is highly suggested that a teenage chicken consume this nutritious and wholesome meal in order to help the chicken grow and begin laying eggs. If you enjoy allowing your hen's free range, this one can assist you in preventing them from stepping on the grass.

Pecking order is an actual phenomenon in the world of chickens, which is an interesting fact. The more robust chickens will peck at the weaker chickens, and they will also try to keep the weaker chickens away from the feeding dish. For this reason, you should always make sure there is enough food for everyone.

Cocky Without Being Overly Peckish



Chickens certainly enjoy scratching and are always a little bit hungry, but they aren't picky eaters by any stretch of the imagination. If you are just starting out, it is probably best to begin by feeding your chickens feed that you have purchased from a store. However, you should always ensure that the feed is appropriate for the age of your chickens.

Do not freak out in the event that you run out of it; a little handful of grains and a few scraps will keep them satisfied until you have the opportunity to hurry to the store.

However, if you are concerned about their food's quality, you should consider going the homesteader way and making your own chicken feed. This is especially important to do if you have a small flock of chickens and the eggs are primarily consumed by your family.

If you provide a healthy diet for your chickens, then your family will also have access to a healthy diet.

At this point, we hope that we have provided you with some enlightenment on the somewhat unappetizing subject!

If you think some of your friends or neighbors could benefit from the chicken feed article, why not be a good neighbor and show it to them?

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of food is ideal for hens to eat?

The greatest food for chickens is one that is well-balanced, providing an appropriate amount of essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and so on. As long as it is made with the appropriate components, it does not matter whether you construct it yourself or purchase it. Always bear in mind the chickens' age, as their nutritional requirements change as they age. If you detect a change in the appetite of your chickens, it is preferable to consult a veterinarian.

What is the average daily food intake for a chicken?

Many farmers will tell you that hens will eat from sunrise to sunset, but if you want a definitive answer, an egg-laying hen needs a quarter of a pound of chicken feed per day. You can feed them at set intervals throughout the day, or you may adopt the free-feed technique, in which you provide them with enough food so they can eat whenever they like.

How long does using up a 50-pound bag of chicken feed take?

If a chicken consumes an average of a quarter of a pound of feed per day, then a regular 50-pound bag ought to be able to sustain its consumption for two hundred days. However, this calculation method does not consider any waste or the significant damage that hungry rodents might cause if they gain access to your food sources. Advice: If you want to reduce the amount of seed that gets wasted, think about purchasing a specific chicken feeder that doesn't squander any.

In addition to chicken feed, what else can I give my hens to eat?

Back in the day, when there was such a thing as chicken feed, farmers used to feed their backyard chickens scraps from their own tables. You can give your chicken fruit and vegetables without worrying about their health, such as carrots, squash, beans, cauliflower, spinach, bananas, or berries; nevertheless, they won't mind the occasional serving of cooked rice. Cheese and yogurt are both good suppliments of calcium, so feel free to offer them both.