Making your own chicken feed can be a difficult task. It includes having a good understanding of the dietary requirements of chickens as well as the nutritional quality of the available feedstuffs that can meet those requirements.
If you choose to make your own chicken feed, you may either buy each ingredient separately or grow some of them yourself.
You might be in for a surprise if your goal is to save money. It will probably cost less to purchase ready-mixed, commercial chicken feed than it will to buy quality ingredients separately.
So why do many people choose not to give their chickens commercially prepared chicken feed?
Here are a few of their reasons:
- To avoid genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).
- You can save money by growing some of the ingredients yourself and avoiding the escalating price of commercial chicken feed.
- To increase the nutritional quality of chicken meat and eggs.
- To enhance the health and increase the lifespan of the chickens.
A common reason people make their own chicken feed is to stay away from genetically modified ingredients.
The majority of commercial chicken feed contains soybeans for protein and corn for energy. The majority of the corn and soybeans produced in the US are genetically modified.
When genetic material from an unrelated organism is artificially put into another living thing, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). Genetic modification entails changing an organism’s genetic makeup in a way that does not happen naturally.
The majority of GM crops are designed to increase plant resistance to herbicides or insects (or both).
GMOs have overtaken the chicken feed industry to the extent that you can almost assume anything derived from corn and soy is genetically modified unless it is labelled “Organic,” “GMO-free,” or “non-GMO,”. However, no one has yet presented conclusive evidence that GMOs are safe or not.
Basic Formula for Homemade Chicken Feed
Since I’d rather feed my chickens commercial feed (it’s definitely a personal choice!), I asked my friend to give me the formula for her homemade chicken feed.
- 30% Coarsely ground corn
- 30% Wheat bran or rice bran
- 20% Peas
- 10% Oats
- 10% Fish Meal
- 2% Poultry Nutri–Balancer
Additionally, you should provide your chickens full access to kelp and aragonite (they should be able to eat as much or as little as they want).
When preparing your own chicken feed, you have the option of crushing, grinding, or feeding the ingredients whole.
By grinding the ingredients, you can prevent each chicken from only eating its preferred ingredient.
Within roughly a week of feeding them, break or crush the ingredients to maintain freshness and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Feeding whole grains may be preferable to broken grains because they retain their nutritious properties for a longer period of time.
To give the chickens’ gizzard muscles time to adapt to the additional exertion of eating whole grains, introduce your homemade chicken feed gradually when switching a flock from commercial feed to the new feed.
Warning: Chickens Need Grit!
If your chickens eat anything but commercial poultry feed, then you must feed them grit. Grit is essential because it helps them grind up their food and aids in digestion.
There’s poultry grit (Amazon) for chickens that are older than 8 weeks and smaller grit for chicks (Amazon) who are 2 to 8 weeks old.
For more information on this topic, check out my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells and Grit?