Last Updated: June 3, 2021
Depending on how many chickens you have and what you choose to feed them, feeding chickens can get expensive, and you’ll soon start wondering if those home-grown organic eggs are worth the cost. One of the main reasons that most of us raise chickens at home is for the healthy, free-range eggs that they provide us with, so it makes sense to feed them the best-quality food possible.
Making your own homemade chicken feed is not as difficult as it sounds and can even save you money in the long run. Additionally, you’ll have the benefit of knowing exactly what’s going into your chicken’s food, and you’ll have full control over their health. Of course, this can be stressful too, so you want to be sure your birds are getting all the vital nutrients that they need to thrive.
In this article, we share six chicken feed recipes that won’t break the bank, will give your birds all the required nutrition that they need, and are easy to make. Let’s get started!
Nutritional needs of chickens
Before we get into the recipes, it’s vital to be aware of the nutritional requirements that chickens need to thrive. Although chickens are generally hardy birds and expert foragers, they still need a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals to grow properly, stay healthy, and produce healthy, delicious eggs.
Humans have been selectively breeding and keeping chickens for centuries, and most chickens are bred and fed to grow as big as possible, as quickly as possible. This is likely the reason that you got your own backyard flock, to avoid this commercial production. The commercial diet fed to such chickens is different from that of backyard flocks. You want your chickens to grow at a steady, natural rate without getting overweight, using feed that will enhance their health.
To produce a healthy, nutrient-rich feed for your flock, you’ll need a good balance of the following:
For a basic chicken feed recipe that includes all the grains, vitamins, and minerals that your chickens need, the following ratios are ideal:
Now that you have a good idea of what your chicken needs to thrive, let’s dive into the recipes!
Homemade chicken feed recipes
1. Layer hen feed
This recipe is formulated for laying hens but is versatile and can be used for all your other chickens too. The ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find and can be found in bulk to save you money.
2. Basic feed recipe
This is a great base recipe to follow that you can easily add to if needed. For winter months, you may want to add extra carbs, or layers may need extra protein. You can also add extras like sea kelp or fish meal for added minerals, but do not exceed 10%.
3. Barley-based feed
While this feed recipe may be a bit more expensive than most, it’s a great choice for older birds and sensitive birds, as well as for winter feeding. We recommended adding it once or twice a week as a treat and to give your flock diversity. Barley is packed with essential vitamins and minerals and will produce gorgeous, delicious eggs. For a fairly large stash, mix the following:
4. Chicken starter feed
Growing chicks need plenty of protein to grow up into healthy, happy chickens, and this recipe gives them around 20% protein and is high in fat for added energy. Growing chicks cannot eat large chunks of grain like adults can, so you’ll need to process the grains in a food processor first and add in the other ingredients afterward.
5. Sprouted grain homemade recipe
This recipe is easy to make at home and will give your chickens a varied meal that they’ll love. The recipe may take a bit more preparation time, since the grains are sprouted, but sprouting your grains unlocks a host of nutrients that will be more bioavailable to your chicken. You’ll need to soak the grains for 24 hours, and they’ll usually take 2-3 days to sprout. Just be careful not to let them sprout longer than 3 days, as there may be a mold issue.
6. Organic and non-GMO feed mix
Many chicken owners are cautious about feeding their chickens GMO ingredients, and if this is one of your concerns, the following recipe is ideal. Bear in mind that finding organic and non-GMO grains can be a challenge and is usually expensive.
It can be stressful to be responsible for the nutrition of your backyard flock, and feeding them the correct ratio of nutrients is essential. But chickens are hardy creatures, especially if they are free-ranging, which is highly recommended. They are proficient at eating what they need and leaving what they don’t. It’s a great idea to add occasional greens into these recipes because your chicken will love them and benefit greatly from the additional nutrients!
Featured Image Credit: LesiChkalll27, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.