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
    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
  • Avatar
    Liz
    September 2, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Hi
    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?

    Reply
    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      October 15, 2016 at 1:04 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Sophie
    April 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Sophie
      April 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      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?

      Reply
      • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
        Linda Ly of Garden Betty
        April 11, 2016 at 7:56 pm

        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.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Heather
    March 25, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      April 11, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kelly Couch
    March 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Kelly Couch
      March 20, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      also I am not able to edit the feed calculator

      Reply
      • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
        Linda Ly of Garden Betty
        April 11, 2016 at 7:51 pm

        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.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Robyn Barcomb
    August 1, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      August 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

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

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Emilia
    May 19, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Emilia
      May 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm

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

      Reply
      • Linda Ly
        Linda Ly
        May 20, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        Glad you found it! 🙂

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Jade
    May 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

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

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      May 11, 2015 at 3:07 am

      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.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Dee
        May 11, 2015 at 10:24 am

        Hi Linda (aka Betty). You are great! Thanks for your valuable time. My email is: redkey@verizon.net
        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!

        Reply
      • Avatar
        Dee
        May 11, 2015 at 10:31 am

        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!

        Reply
    • Avatar
      Dee
      May 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm

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

      Reply
      • Linda Ly
        Linda Ly
        May 11, 2015 at 11:18 pm

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

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Shari Flanders
    May 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm

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

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      May 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm

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

      Reply
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