Garden Betty's chicken feed calculator for determining your protein content
Backyard Chickens, Nutrition

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

If you’ve been following either of my recipes for homemade chicken feed (here and here), you may have wondered how to calculate the protein content of your feed 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.

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

Garden Betty's chicken feed calculator

Garden Betty’s Chicken Feed Calculator is available 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.)

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

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. So 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.

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.)

The protein and fat content shown for each ingredient are based on nutrition information sourced from my own ingredient labels and cooperative extension sites. They are not identical across producers (sometimes differing by several points depending on the varieties and growing conditions), so if you want the most accurate calculation for your custom feed, use the nutrition information from your own packaging.

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.

To download the chicken feed calculator, enter your email address in the form below. (Your email will not be given or sold to third parties.) Check your inbox and click on the link provided to confirm your address. Once confirmed, you’ll be emailed a link with instructions to download the file.

Happy mixing!

If you’re unable to view the form above, click here to be redirected.

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  • tim

    Not sure why but I can’t open the spreadsheet from the link you sent, is there anyway you could send it to me as an attachment?

    • You need to have some type of spreadsheet program on your computer in order to open the file.

  • Pam Handlon Sykes

    I signed up for the chicken feed calculator and I have a spreadsheet, but didn’t receive it…what went wrong?

    • My account shows the email was sent on April 22, 2017 09:17 AM. You may want to check your spam folder, or if you pull your emails into Gmail, check the Updates or Promotions tabs. I’ve also resent it to your email.

  • Nicholle

    I have an apple computer and can’t get this to open in a format that I can edit it. Any ideas of how I download onto Mac and it can be edited? Thanks!

    • Hi, you need a spreadsheet program (like Excel, Numbers, or Google sheets) to open the file and enable the calculating functions to work.

  • Liz

    I have used your spreadsheet for 12 months now & the chickens love the diy mix & have been really healthy. However, they have now all gone into the moult & even though I have upped their protein content, they keep having soft shelled eggs. They have loads of calcium available on tap, both the oyster shell & egg shells but they still have a problem. Have you come across this before using mixed grains rather than straight pellet food? I am loathe to switch to just pellets, especially since my girls hate them & always leave them until last! Any ideas what they are lacking? Their mix consists of pellets,wheat, barley, oats, mealworms, sunflower seeds & hemp & is at 18% protein but I am now topping up with some fish/meat protein to try & boost protein levels, but it not making any difference?

    • The molting period is a time of intense change in a chicken, so as long as yours appear healthy and are still drinking and eating normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the soft shelled eggs. Sometimes, their reproductive systems simply can’t keep up with the calcium needs of both their eggs and their feathers. Once they regrow their feathers, their eggs should be back to normal. One tip I do have is scrambled eggs; my ladies love them. I end up buying eggs in their off season and will sometimes scramble an egg for them as a special treat, in addition to their mealworms and sunflower seeds.

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  • Sophie

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us! I would like to formulate a recipe using your spreadsheet, but I don’t have all the ingredients. I’d like to buy them after I formulate it. So the problem I’ve run into is, how do I find the weight of 1 cup of each grain If I don’t already have the grains? Do you have a list of what the grains each weigh? Any help is appreciated!

    • Sophie

      Also, If I am putting the “weight per cup (Ibs)” of ingredients, say Hard Red Wheat, how would I write that if it is 6.5oz per cup of wheat?

      • Unfortunately you will need to know the weights of your ingredients before calculating, and I don’t have a list handy. If you don’t want to buy all the grains in bulk just yet, you can buy small amounts from Whole Foods, Sprouts, or WinCo (or whoever has bulk bins in your area) for the purpose of calculating. As for converting ounces to pounds, that’s pretty easy: just type into Google “how many pounds in 6.5 ounces” and it will calculate it for you.

  • Heather

    I can not figure out for the life of me how to save the spreadsheet. There are no links, icons or files to be able to save and modify. Please help.

    • Hi Heather, please follow all the instructions in the email that was sent to you when you requested access. If you did not receive an email, double-check that your address was entered correctly and try again.

  • Kelly Couch

    WOW thank you for this. We are about to introduce our first batch of chicks to the hens. We will do a chicken tractor inside the electric poultry net as a half way house (they chicks are 4 weeks and we are in texas) cause we need the brooder for some new babies. But at 6 weeks we want to combine the pullets and the hens. Should we feed them all a grower formula (since pullets can’t eat the layer ration)? and then what do we need to offer the hens and the chicks to meet unique needs?

    • Kelly Couch

      also I am not able to edit the feed calculator

      • Just wanted to respond to this again, though I think from your last email that you were finally able to edit the spreadsheet. Hope you’re finding it useful!

        As for your question on the chicks, pullets, and layers diets: I would keep the chick feed separate, but give the pullets and layers the same feed. The only difference between the pullets and layers is the added calcium, which is served free-choice. So, chances are the layers will know to take those for themselves.

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  • Robyn Barcomb

    Really loving your site and sharing it with all my chicken keeping friends. I too am excited about the calculator. It is a weekend, so I know you are probably out working in the garden, so I will probably receive it soon. Hope you are having a great summer!

    • Hi Robyn, I hope you enjoy using the calculator! It makes formulating so much easier when you can just plug in numbers you know.

  • Emilia

    Hey Garden Betty, thank you for the information on feeding chickens. I am excited to mix my own feed using this calculator but I entered my email and confirmed about a week ago and am still waiting. Can you send the calculator to me?

    • Emilia

      Oops! I found it in the promotions section of gmail.

  • Jade

    Hi Betty! Happy Mothers Day! Sorry, but I also entered and email, confirmed & have not gotten your calculator. Can you help me please?

    • I just looked up your email (the one used for this comment), but did not pull anything up under that account. Please email me and let me know if you used a different address to sign up.

      • Dee

        Hi Linda (aka Betty). You are great! Thanks for your valuable time. My email is:
        I also live in SoCal & can’t find the animal grade brewers yeast without garlic. Can you please let me know where you buy yours? Thanks for all that you do! I so appreciate you!

      • Dee

        Hi Linda. I just sent you an email that I used for this comment. Thanks for helping! Can’t wait to try out your calculator. I know it was a lot of work. Thanks for the service!

    • Dee

      Thanks, just received your sheet & it looks like you put a lot of work into it. My chickens thank you!!!

      • I use the AniMed brand, which you can find online or in feed supply stores here.

  • Shari Flanders

    I entered email and confirmed today and I have not gotten it either! 🙁

    • Hi Shari, it looks like your email finally arrived as well! Sorry for the delay!

  • tat

    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.

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

  • Keri

    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:)

    • 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!

  • help

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

  • Taylor

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

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

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  • diegartenfrau

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

    • 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.

  • Nancy Jacques Barratt

    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

    • 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.

  • Momtoafew

    Thank you so much for this! 🙂

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