Backyard Chickens / Nutrition

Garden Betty’s Chicken Feed Calculator For Determining Your Protein Content

Garden Betty's chicken feed calculator for determining your protein content

If you’ve been following either of my recipes for homemade chicken feed (the original whole-grain feed or the updated corn-free feed), you may have wondered how to calculate the protein content of the recipe should you decide to mix things up.

Perhaps you want to try some other grains and seeds for your flock, or you need to formulate a higher-protein feed for baby chicks, growers, or chickens going through a hard molt.

I personally use a spreadsheet to calculate my figures and manage my costs, and now I’m making this file available to you!

Chicken feed calculator for making your own whole-grain chicken feed

I created this spreadsheet when I first started making my own chicken feed, and still use it from time to time when I reformulate my recipe. (This usually happens in late summer to early fall, when my flock is molting and their nutritional needs change a bit.)

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Garden Betty’s Chicken Feed Calculator works as an Excel (.xlsx) download, so you can save the spreadsheet to your computer, create a custom recipe, and edit the information as needed.

I’ve included a list of common grains, seeds, legumes, and other ingredients that typically make up a poultry feed, along with their crude protein content and crude fat content.

After entering the quantity and weight of each ingredient you use, the total protein will update automatically, allowing you to formulate your feed on the fly.

Weight is the most accurate measure for whole grains, so I recommend investing in a kitchen scale if you haven’t already. This is the one I use.

Baby chicks love homemade whole-grain chicken feed

The amount of protein you should aim for depends on the age of your chickens.

Age RangeAmount of Protein Required
Chick starter (1 to 8 weeks)20 to 22 percent protein
Grower (8 to 18 weeks)16 to 17 percent protein
Layer (18 weeks plus, or after the first egg)16 to 17 percent protein, plus free-choice oyster shells (for calcium)

While the recommended ranges are ideal for feeding, they don’t take into account other greens, weeds, seeds, bugs, and treats that your chickens may eat throughout the day, especially if they free-range.

Homemade whole-grain chicken feed can be fed to free-range hens

Don’t get too hung up on the number if you’re feeding other things besides grains; a diverse diet is more important than a strict percentage.

I’ve also included a column to calculate the cost of your ingredients. Simply input the price per pound, and the spreadsheet will update with the total cost of your feed. This is especially useful for figuring out if it’s cost-effective to buy certain ingredients.

I buy mine in bulk from Azure Standard, as well as from Amazon (using their free Prime shipping — you can sign up for a 30-day trial here) and my local feed stores.

Keep in mind that the spreadsheet offers a simplistic view of your flock’s nutritional needs. It only determines the protein level of your feed, and doesn’t consider the other crucial components of a diet, such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Try to use a wide variety of grains, seeds, and legumes (as well as a steady supply of greens and kitchen scraps) to round out your chickens’ feed.

(If you want to learn more, the University of Kentucky Poultry Extension offers excellent information on poultry nutrition.)

Make homemade chicken feed easily with a spreadsheet

The protein and fat content shown for each ingredient are based on nutrition information sourced from my own ingredient labels, as well as typical values listed on cooperative extension sites.

They are not identical across producers (sometimes differing by several points depending on the varieties and growing conditions).

In order to have the most accurate calculation for your custom feed, use the nutrition information from your own packaging, or ask the feed mill from where you source your ingredients.

If you’re adding new ingredients to the spreadsheet but don’t know their nutritional values, a reliable source to check is Self’s Nutrition Data.

Enter the name of your ingredient in the search box, select the appropriate result, change the serving size to 100 grams, and use the figures shown under “Total Fat” and “Protein.” An ingredient listing 1g of fat and 15g of protein will have 1 percent fat and 15 percent protein, for example.

You can download the chicken feed calculator by entering your email address below. (Your email will not be given or sold to third parties. I hate spam, too.)

Happy mixing!

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

108 Comments

  • Avatar
    tat
    May 3, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I entered my email and confirmed last night but still haven’t gotten it, I’ve looked all through my spam and different tabs but nothing.

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      May 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I may be responding to this late, but I just checked the status of your re-send and it looks like you received it!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Keri
    April 27, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I entered my email and confirmed it, but haven’t received a link to download the calculator, about how long does it usually take to send? Just wondering:)

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      April 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Depending on your email provider, it might take up to 10 minutes to arrive in your inbox. I’ll look into this and force send it to you in case it got tangled up in a spam catcher. You should see it shortly!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    help
    March 10, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I cant figure out how to download the spreadsheet there arent any links to click on

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      March 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      All instructions are in this post. You will need to enter your email and confirm it before being sent a link to download the spreadsheet. http://mad.ly/signups/125694/join

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Taylor
    March 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I tried to make my own excel spreadsheet before finding this. THANK YOU for doing all of the hard work for me!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      March 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      You’re welcome, I hope you find it useful!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    diegartenfrau
    January 1, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Is it possible to change the protein value? I don’t seem to be able to change it to a different protein amount.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      January 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Yes, you can change the protein value of any of the ingredients. Simple replace it with your own numbers. The protein value at the bottom of the spreadsheet, however, will change automatically as you devise your recipe. Ensure that you have actually downloaded the spreadsheet to your hard drive before you play around with it, as I do not allow changes to be made online.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Nancy Jacques Barratt
    December 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I am working on your spreadsheet for us. The column (D) with this title confuses me: Total Weight Per Feed (lbs.). I am unsure what this is supposed to be.
    Never mind, I see that is one of the calculated fields. I got the following through Azure Standard and it seems the protein levels on their nutrition labels don’t match up with yours??
    For instance:
    Kamut protein = 7g/25 lb bag
    Hard red wheat protein = 6g/50lb bag
    Rye Berries protein = 5g/50lb bag
    Triticale protein = 5g/50lb bag
    Flax Seeds protein =2g/25lb bag
    BOSS from local feed store protein = 9% 40lb bag

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      December 7, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      I determine the % by calculating how many grams of protein there are in 100 grams of that particular grain. (For example, 15 grams of protein in 100 grams of grains equals 15% protein.) So check the label for the serving size associated with the protein content shown.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Momtoafew
    November 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you so much for this! 🙂

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      November 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      You’re welcome!

      Reply
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