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
    Tim
    January 3, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Could you please share the calculator?

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      January 3, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      Just enter your email address in the form and you’ll be emailed a link to the calculator. The form is at the bottom of my post.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Erin
    December 7, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Can you explain the last column, the total cost “per feed?” I can’t figure out what this is based on? Per batch of my total number of cups from column? I am trying to make a large trash can’s worth of feed. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    natasha brooks
    December 3, 2020 at 5:18 am

    I had the calculator on my computer. I went to use it and it said it was not there. So i went to get it again. I sent my email 2 times but have not received it. Is there some way to send it again?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    sara moore
    November 19, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Same issue as above. Would love to get the calculator as well. thanks!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      January 3, 2021 at 9:53 pm

      I checked for the Gmail address you left, but it wasn’t found in my database. Did you enter your email in the form? The calculator’s sent automatically that way.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Shari
    November 1, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Would love the calculator

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Shari
      November 1, 2020 at 10:28 pm

      Found the link. Thanks

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Emily Golden Oren
    October 24, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Hi! Please send me your calculator. emily.oren@gmail.com

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      November 15, 2020 at 2:30 am

      Hi Emily, please enter your email address directly in the form in my post. The calculator will be sent to you that way!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lynda Hernandez
    October 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Please send me your calculator. I’m trying to adjust protein levels. thank you in advance. elsee1552@yahoo.com.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      November 15, 2020 at 2:14 am

      Hi Lynda, you’ll have to enter your email address directly in the form in my post. Due to email regulations, I can’t do it for you as I need permission to email you.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Devlin
    September 10, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Can I please get your chicken feed calculator, too? I have been winging it (in not a good way) and feel like my birds need more protein. I let them free-range on our property a lot so luckily they do get adequate protein for most of the day when they are out in eating lots of bugs and whatever they find. I have hens and a couple roosters, and they actually escape daily to forage, my ducks stay in their pen usually with the other heavier breeds that can’t fly out (I am working on better securing them in before it gets too cold).. I have no idea how to figure out how much of what I should mix to make the right proportions for layer protein requirements since some grains are 11-13% protein and the sunflowers are 24% protein, birdseed mix is 14% protein, peas are 8% protein, etc… and my husband is getting irritated that I just keep buying new things, haha- we were buying New Country Organic duck layer which is very expensive and they have been spoiled rotten and turn their noses up to anything processed. I have some birds molting so know they needed added protein and am going to buy a 22lb bag of mealworms to mix in for more protein. I’d like to buy fish-meal but can’t seem to find it in bulk and the company Azure doesn’t deliver to New England as of yet. The fermented diet was a really great thing but more work, and once again I wasn’t feeding them enough protein in my own mix I realized and would supplement with the New Country Organics and whatever bugs they’d catch. Sorry for my long rambling post. Thanks in advance if you can send me the feed blend calculator!! Just let me know the next steps.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Bryan Hugill
    September 10, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Greetings from Thailand! Please send me your feed calculator too (bryan.hugill@gmail.com). Thanks a million, Bryan

    Reply
  • Avatar
    MaryH
    September 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Your calculator is excellent! I have had to formulate a gluten-free chicken feed due to my severe gluten allergy and it has helped so much. I have 2 questions about ingredients: are the “oats” whole raw oat groats or rolled oats? And are the “amaranth seeds” actually the seeds you would use to grow amaranth or is it amaranth grains like one would use to make a porridge? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      September 5, 2020 at 6:30 am

      Oats generally have the same nutritional value no matter how they’re processed (whole groats, steel cut, rolled, etc.) so I just use whatever’s least expensive at the time. As for amaranth seeds vs. amaranth grain: they are one and the same. (Technically speaking, amaranth is a seed, not a grain or cereal.) The different colors come from different varieties of amaranth.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Velu
    January 9, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    I entered my email, got the confirmation response and confirmed. Nothing. How do I get the chicken feed calculator ?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      January 9, 2020 at 11:41 pm

      My apologies, I am currently in the process of transferring email addresses to a new email provider and hope to have that squared away in the next day or two. Once I verify that everything is working as it should, you’ll get an email with a link to download the calculator. Thank you for your patience!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kristine Martin
    January 8, 2020 at 1:56 am

    I entered my email, got the confirmation response and confirmed. Nothing. Would love to get your chicken feed calculator. My email is pinkkitty420@gmail.com

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      January 9, 2020 at 11:41 pm

      My apologies. I’m currently in the process of transferring email addresses to a new email provider and hope to have that squared away in the next day or two. Once I verify that everything is working as it should, you’ll get an email with a link to download the calculator. I appreciate your patience!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    mazim
    October 14, 2019 at 11:39 am

    I dont get any email. I tried several and also checked spam folder

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      November 22, 2019 at 1:40 am

      Hi, I’m unable to view your email address in this comment, so please send me an email and I’ll look for your account. If you use Gmail, please also check your Updates or Promotions folders.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Tori
    May 2, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Entered my email (against my better judgement mind you) clicked the link and nothing not even in spam folder. How do we actually get the calculator?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      June 10, 2019 at 12:38 am

      Hi Tori, please send me an email so I can look up your email address and make sure it was confirmed. The chicken feed calculator is automatically emailed to your address upon confirmation, so it sometimes lands in a spam folder or a promotions/updates-type folder.

      I can assure you that your email address only goes to me, and is never shared.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Melinda Kirch
    March 29, 2019 at 2:12 am

    I downloaded the calculator and went to enter an amount and the result columns errors. How do I fix this

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      June 10, 2019 at 1:16 am

      What column did you enter the amount in? And what kind of amount? The formulas in the spreadsheet are designed to calculate whatever you enter, so is it possible you mistyped one of the quantities or weights?

      Reply
  • Avatar
    SarOte YenchAi
    February 12, 2019 at 9:27 am

    How can I receive the spreadsheet for calculator

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      June 10, 2019 at 1:35 am

      Hi, all instructions are in this post!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Daudi Nkwama
    January 18, 2019 at 9:31 am

    How can I too get the spreadsheet of chicken feed calculator, my e-mail

    nkwamadaudi@yahoo.com

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      February 6, 2019 at 2:42 am

      Hi, I checked your email but was unable to locate it in my database. Please follow the instructions in this blog post for adding your email to confirm that you want to receive the spreadsheet.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Ramon A.
    October 18, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    I dont get any email. I tried several and also checked spam folder.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      October 19, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      Hi Peter, please email me (using the Contact page on this site) so I can look up your email address and see if it’s been sent to you.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    nancy barratt
    September 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Linda

    On your spreadsheet column titles, what is the difference between the 2 columns:

    Crude
    Protein Content

    and

    Crude Protein %
    in Feed

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      October 12, 2018 at 11:37 pm

      Crude Protein Content is the amount of crude protein in a single ingredient. Crude Protein % in Feed is the percentage of crude protein that the ingredient comprises in the whole feed mixture (this column is calculated automatically when you input the other values).

      Reply
  • Avatar
    martin hernandez
    June 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Garden Betty’s I entered my email but I haven’t receive the chicken feed calculator. Please send me, I would thank you forever.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      June 21, 2018 at 1:07 am

      Hi, please check your spam folder, as the emails sometimes get routed there.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kimberly
    September 4, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I am not receiving email to confirm contact info, not in junk file/spam either.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    tim
    June 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      June 17, 2017 at 6:58 am

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

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Pam Handlon Sykes
    April 22, 2017 at 4:41 pm

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

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      May 18, 2017 at 8:09 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Nicholle
    November 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      November 17, 2016 at 10:32 pm

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

      Reply
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