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.

  • 035-034-01tab
    Protein percentage values of the most commonly used supplements.
  • Chickens and chicken feed
    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).
  • 035-034-01-figure
    Protein formulation guide: Draw a rectangle on a sheet of paper and write in the center the percentage of protein desired for the ration. In the upper left-hand corner, jot the word "grain" and the assumed value of 10. Enter the word "supplement" in the lower left-hand corner, with the average figure for these ingredients. Then subtract diagonally — always taking the smaller number from the larger — and note the answers on the right. The figure in the lower right-hand corner is the amount of supplement, in pounds, you'll need to combine with the quantity of grain (also in pounds) shown directly above.

  • 035-034-01tab
  • Chickens and chicken feed
  • 035-034-01-figure

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.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters