Keeping chickens gives you farm fresh eggs, straight from your backyard. And every chicken owner knows that what you feed your hens affects how they taste. How do you get the richest eggs? You have to provide them the highest quality feed. Many backyard keepers have taken to making their chicken feed for this reason. But what are the advantages of homemade chicken feed compared to commercial? Keep reading to find out why you should start a homemade diet today. Plus, our 4 top homemade chicken feed recipes!
Pros Of Making Homemade Chicken Feed
If you have never considered making a homemade chicken feed, you might be wondering what the point is? Here is where we make you a believer.
- Organic: The best part about making chicken feed is that it’s more organic. We know what you might be thinking, Can’t you just buy an organic brand? While yes, this is true. The label “organic” can mean several things. It could mean they don’t use pesticides or that it is GMO-free. When you make your own feed, you can select organic seeds that align with your values. Or you can go as far as growing the feed to control every part of the process.
- Adjustments: When you make a homemade chicken feed, you can adjust to your flock’s needs. Whether they are battling winter or illness, you can change their diet to accommodate it. You can even make adjustments if you want to boost egg production or change the egg flavor.
- Cheaper: Sometimes, it’s cheaper to make an organic mix than buying it commercially. This isn’t always true, though. In some areas, it can get more expensive to make a chicken blend. But the price is worth it in any case.
Cons Of Making Homemade Chicken Feed
Making chicken feed isn’t for everyone. Some people find that it’s not worth the hassle for their hens. But we don’t think about it that way. There are a few setbacks, but if you have the time, the rewards are worth it. Here are a few cons of making your chicken feed.
- Time: The most significant setback is that making chicken feed takes time. Even the most basic feeds take time to buy the supplies, mix, and store. Not everyone has the time it takes to dedicate to making feed. And that’s ok. You have to do what is best for your flock.
- Storage: Making chicken feed in small batches takes a lot of time. It makes more sense to make larger batches and store them. But then you run into the problem of where to store these large batches of food. Some people find that getting containers for ingredients and mixed food is too much.
Before we get into our 4 top homemade chicken feed recipes, we should talk about nutrition. Chickens need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, just like people do. And if you don’t get these values right, it could lead to malnourished hens and weak eggs. We wouldn’t want that! Instead of mixing some seed and grains and calling it feed, let’s look at some specifics that chickens need.
One of the most important things to monitor is protein. Each stage of a hen’s life needs a different amount of protein. Starter feed typically needs 18-20% protein to keep up with muscle development and growth.
Most people like to keep it on the lower side so that their chickens don’t grow too fast. Keeping protein at 18% also prevents you from having to switch to a Grower feed. But if you give your chicks 20% protein, you will need to drop it down to 18% at 18 weeks old.
In starter and grower feed, you should also monitor calcium. While calcium isn’t as crucial, your chicks still need it for growth and bone density. You should keep calcium percentages at 0-1.25% until they are coming close to laying age.
Once your hens are ready to start laying eggs, they need to switch to a layer feed. Adult hens need at least 16% protein and lots of calcium. Most layer feed contains 4 grams of calcium per serving, but that isn’t all your hens need. They also need access to crushed oyster shells for an extra boost.
Other Nutrients To Consider
Protein and calcium are the main focus when making feed because hens will get other nutrients naturally. Whether they get it through the feed ingredients or by foraging the garden, they will get all they need. Some of the other vital nutrients you should look for are:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B12
You can also get vitamins to add to your hen’s feed. That way, you can ensure that they are getting everything they need. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a pre and probiotic for crop and gut health.
4 Top Homemade Chicken Feed Recipes
Now is the moment you all have been waiting for. Here is a list of our favorite chicken feed recipes. Most of these are a base diet, which means that they are complete without any supplementation needed. But you can make it fun by adding new ingredients or treats to it.
#1 Layer Hen Base Diet
We love this base diet because it is so versatile. There is nothing in it that your chickens won’t love. And since you can add more grains and herbs to it, you can adjust it to any goal you might have. You can even ferment this feed to give your flock an extra boost. All you need is:
- 8 lbs split field peas
- 8 lbs cracked corn
- 6 lbs of wheat
- 1 lb crimped oats
- 1 oz salt (not for free-range chickens)
- 1 oz ground flaxseed
- 1 oz kelp powder
- Crushed eggshells
The reason this recipe is so good is that the ingredients are cheap and easy to find. And since they all come in bulk, it makes more sense to mix larger quantities at once to save time.
This recipe for chicken feed is especially great for winter too. It has higher amounts of carbs that are gentle and keeps their bellies full and warm. And since it has eggshells added directly to it, your hens will get most of the calcium they need. What more could you want?
#2 Barley Homemade Chicken Layer Feed
For a feed that is a little more complex, you will love this barley-based feed. Barley is great for chickens for energy and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This recipe also has more palatable grains for your hens to pick over to give more diversity. For this recipe, you need:
- 10 cups barley
- 5 cups red wheat
- 5 cups hulled millet
- 5 cups split peas
- 4 cups oat groats
You can add to this feed as well to incorporate multivitamins or treats. The only downside to this mix is that it tends to be more expensive than commercial brands. But the upside is that your hens will lay the most delicious eggs.
#3 Mixed Layer Chicken Feed
Our next homemade chicken feed recipes have a wide variety of grains and nutrients. This feed is the best for super layers. In this feed, you will find enough calcium, nutrients, and healthy protein. And it’s reasonably easy to make. All you need is:
- 1 cup wheat
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup barley
- 1 cup milo
- 1 cup barley
- 1 cup peas
- 1/2 cup fish meal
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon kelp powder
Chickens love this blend. Hens have incredible instincts to know what nutrients they need for their health and egg production. Providing a feed mix such as this allows your hens to peck around to what they need most that day.
#4 Homemade Chicken Starter Feed
This starter feed contains about 20% protein that your chicks need to grow. It’s also high in fats to give them the energy they need during this time of rapid development. For this recipe, though, you will need to process the meal.
Processing is easy, and you don’t need any fancy equipment. The best tool for this job is your kitchen blender. After mixing the ingredients, you will want to blend in small batches. The consistency will be very fine and almost powder-like. Here’s what you need:
- 7 cups oats
- 5 cups wheat
- 3 cups split peas
- 1 1/2 cups fish meal (doesn’t need to be blended)
- 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup kelp meal (not blended)
- 2 tablespoons brewers yeast (not blended)
Your chicks will eat this until about 18 weeks old. Then they will need to be switched to a grower feed or cup back on the fish meal included.
How To Mix And Store Your Chicken Feed
One concern people have with these 4 top homemade chicken feed recipes is mixing and storing it. You might be wondering how to make homemade chicken feed and store it safely. For integrating your feed, there are a few options.
The easiest option is to check your local feed stores. Most feed stores where you buy your ingredients will also mix and package for you. So all you have to do is store it away in the package they provide.
But not all suppliers have this option. In that case, the best way to mix your feed in large quantities is to use a concrete mixer. The large drums evenly mix your feed without breaking your back. Then you can store your feed in an airtight container.
That’s A Wrap
There are so many great homemade chicken feed recipes But we hope you liked our 4 top homemade chicken feed recipes. If you try one of our recipes, tell us how your chickens like them!
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!