What To Feed Chickens: Formulating Your Own Chicken Feed

Joan Salmonowicz tells readers what to feed chickens, how to mix your own chicken feed, including buying mixed ration feed in bulk, feed ratios, and common supplements.

| September/October 1975

As fall descends upon us here in the North — bringing with it frosty nights and then snowy days — most of the green that covers the earth turns to brown. Now we must begin to give our animals a little extra help if they're to make it through the long, dead winter.

Chickens, for example, can get by quite nicely during the summer on the bugs and green matter they find by themselves (plus a little grain as a scratch feed). In cold weather, though, the hens can no longer choose from the gourmet spread of nature's table . . . and must rely on us, their keepers, for the protein and other nutrients they need to remain healthy, happy, and productive.

Accordingly, fall is the time to lay in a supply of high-protein feed with a proper balance of vitamins and minerals. Good-quality commercial poultry rations do fill the bill, but are expensive and almost always adulterated with antibiotics, hormones, and who knows what. A lower-cost, chemical-free alternative is a custom feed mixture . . . which you can formulate quite easily, given a little knowledge of your chickens' nutritional needs and the food values of grains and protein supplements.

What To Feed Chickens

One encouragement to such a project is the following fact: Most grain elevators and other feed dealers will mix and grind a ration to whatever formula you specify . . . and will either sell you the makings or process ingredients you furnish (for example, grain you've grown yourself or purchased from a farmer).

If your local feed supplier doesn't offer a grinding and mixing service, you can buy what you need, take the ingredients home, and measure and combine them. This method has just one drawback: Part of the ration will consist of finely powdered protein supplements, which tend to separate from coarser particles (such as kernels of grain) and lie uneaten at the bottom of the feeder. It's therefore preferable to grind all mixed feed for chickens of any age . . . and this step is a must if the birds are very young. Perhaps a friendly neighbor who owns a hammermill will process the mix for you. Otherwise, small amounts of chick feed can be prepared in a blender or hand grain mill.

Now for some nutritional background. An average hen of a heavy breed requires about seven pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs, and 15% of her diet should consist of protein. This need can be met in either of two ways:

hannah neudorf
11/13/2012 11:12:20 PM

A hen does not require 7 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs as stated in this arcticle. My hens eat 2 pounds of feed a week and will produce 7-12 eggs a week each.

6/24/2009 11:06:17 PM

Will someone at Mother puh-lease check the html for this article? The whole thing shows up as one big link.

1/11/2008 8:45:10 AM

i want you to send me every latest information chikens.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!