How to Make Homemade Chicken Feed
How to Make Chicken Feed for Layers More Digestible
Reading Time: 5 minutes
By Amy Fewell – Learning how to make homemade chicken feed for layers is just as simple as purchasing pre-made feed from the store, except, it takes a little more muscle when it comes to mixing the feed. It’s a natural and simple alternative to commercial layer feed that can be non-GMO or organic and it takes care of every member of your flock!
Homemade chicken feed is easy to mix together, will last longer (since you’ll be using whole grains, not crushed), and is quite easy to increase and decrease supplements and minerals as you see fit. I’m able to mix up a large batch all at one time. My favorite part? My feed actually sprouts when it gets wet, therefore, making sprouting and fermenting our feed all the better and easier to accomplish!
Feeding chickens doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You don’t need to put too much time into thinking about your formula as long as you stick to the basics laid out in this article. Just make sure you stick to the list of what not to feed chickens on a regular basis (like molded food, etc.), and you’ll be good as gold.
Is Homemade Chicken Feed Cheaper?
The quick answer to whether a homemade chicken feed is cheaper is, well, no. In fact, depending on what you want to add to your chicken feed, it could be a lot more expensive. If you can find an organic or non-GMO pre-mixed feed that you really love, and you’re concerned about the extra couple of bucks that you’ll save, then stick with it. But if you want to create your own feed with supplements and herbs, I’ll tell you, you won’t regret making your own chicken feed for your flock.
Chicken Feed Vitamins, Minerals, and Protein
There are a few things to consider when making your own feed, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. Here are the things chickens need to have in their diet. They can get most of these things by simply free-ranging on pasture, sea kelp, or from kitchen scraps, but for confined chooks, you’ll need to switch it up a bit and offer a pre-made mineral and vitamin supplements, like Nutri-Drench or Poultry Nutri Balancer.
Vitamins Your Chickens Need
Vitamins A, D, E, and K
Minerals Your Chickens Need
15 to 18 percent protein intake
A Note on Salt: Salt provides a great source of minerals and sodium chloride, and chickens do need salt in their diet, however, it should never exceed .5% of their diet.
Adding Herbs to Chicken Feed
I love adding herbs to my chicken feed because it allows me to get preventative herbs into their bodies easily. It is also an incredible way to get vitamin and nutrient-rich properties into their eggs, which in return benefits us!
Make sure you are using dried herbs if you are mixing them into feed, but more importantly, don’t mix herbs into large batches of feed. Also, it’s best not to use powdered herbs, as you’ll lose them all during mixing because they’ll fall to the bottom of the feed.
Simply make an herbal mix, keep it in an airtight container, and then add a scoopful of herbs to the feed ration each day. Your herbs for chickens will stay fresher longer, and their efficacy much higher.
Here are some herbs and things to consider adding to your feed ration:
- Mint (peppermint or spearmint)
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
Time To Make the Chicken Feed
Now that we’ve gotten the basic information together, we can efficiently start making the chicken feed rations! The recipe below is simple and gives you some flexibility with the ingredients. Play around with them, especially the herbs, according to your flock’s needs!
Basic Natural Chicken Feed Recipe
Based on 100 lbs of feed
Wheat (20 to 25 lbs)
Cracked Corn (20 to 25 lbs)
Peas, split or whole (20 to 25 lbs)
Oats, optional (do not feed in excess of 15 percent as they can cause runny droppings)
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (5 lbs)
Flax Seed (1 lb, do not exceed 10 percent)
Mineral premix, optional (.5 to 2 lbs, depending on pasture availability)
Cultured Dry Yeast
Fish Meal (optional, not to exceed 5%)
Calcium Source (eggs shells, aragonite, or oyster shell)
*Slight flexibility has been given in the base portion of this recipe so that you can adjust according to your needs if you pasture range. Birds that are on pasture generally get more vitamins and nutrients than those in confinement.
Don’t forget that grit is necessary for chickens that aren’t on pasture or free-ranging. It helps the gizzard break up grains and feed. You can purchase grit, or even just grab a handful of sand near a creek bed to throw in with your chickens. Grit consists of small pebbles, sand, and other natural gritty substances from the earth.
Soaking Your Chicken Feed for Added Benefits
Learning how to make homemade chicken feed first is key, but learning how to efficiently soak it should totally be next on your list of things to learn.
I love this homemade feed because it naturally sprouts on its own when it gets wet. This is such an important element of feed because it means that the organic matter is alive. It’s easier for your chickens to digest, but to make your chicken feed even more digestible, it’s best to soak this feed for 24 hours.
When we take an organic matter like split peas, whole wheat, and sunflower seeds, and we soak it overnight, the organic material begins to start breaking down and sprouting. This is great for your chickens because it also begins adding good bacteria into their digestive tract, and makes it easier for them to digest their food. Their gizzard isn’t working overtime to break down the food, and they’ll receive more nutrients from the soaked grains. This is a fantastic way to help lessen the risk of sour crop and nutrient deficiencies.
How to Soak Your Chicken Feed
The amount of feed you soak will depend on your flock size. For a flock size of 25 birds, I use a five-gallon food-grade bucket and fill it up with two large scoops of feed. This generally fills the bucket up about a quarter of the way with feed.
Next, I fill the bucket up three-quarters of the way with fresh clean water, stir the mixture around, and then place a loosely fitted cover over it, or a rag. Be careful, though. Squirrels and other rodents love getting into the soaking feed, so make sure whatever cover you use allows airflow, but is rodent proof.
Place the bucket in a safe area until you’re ready to feed your chooks the following morning. It’s best to make a new batch every morning so that your feed has soaked for a complete 24 hours before giving it to your flock.
When ready, pour off all the water and feed your chickens the soaked feed. Typically, your chickens will eat less of the soaked feed than they would non-soaked feed. For this reason, when you first begin, monitor their intake and adjust accordingly. You’ll save on feed usage by at least a quarter of what you normally feed unsoaked feed.
And that’s it! You’ve made your own chicken feed and you’ve learned how simple it is to soak it to offer digestive benefits and save on feed consumption!