Update: Download the Garden Betty Chicken Feed Calculator to easily manage costs, calculate protein content, and formulate your feed on the fly!
I get a lot of emails about one of my most popular posts, Garden Betty’s Homemade Whole Grain Chicken Feed.
Since I started feeding my chickens a whole grain diet in December 2011 (when our first generation of hens were still pullets), they’ve been as happy and healthy as ever, and our most productive layers give us 6 to 7 eggs per week with no anomalies like shell-less eggs.
My homemade chicken feed has now been fed to three generations of hens, all with amazing results. Their feathers are soft and glossy, their wings strong and quick, their combs and wattles meaty and well-formed.
They are also the most active, affectionate, and sociable chickens, and they come bounding through the yard as soon as they see us approaching with their food. (We usually ferment their chicken feed.) I love their little personalities!
I’ve made small changes to my DIY chicken feed here and there, depending on what ingredients were in stock at my co-op. I still swear by a whole grain diet (considering how easy and accessible it is in my area), and it seems like many of you are looking to go this route as well.
If you’ve ever wanted to find out how to adapt my feed to baby chicks, or what kind of substitutions can be made to the original recipe, the comments on that page (which I actively monitor and respond to) are a great place to start!
In this post, I’m sharing how I updated my homemade chicken feed recipe with a version I’ve been successfully using for the last several years.
Why a corn-free chicken feed may be a better feed for your flock
One of the most common questions I always get is: How do you make your chicken feed recipe corn-free?
Chicken-keepers want a corn-free feed for any number of reasons, the main one being that corn has little nutritional value compared to many other grains and seeds.
Field corn (the type of corn grown as livestock feed and processed into things like high fructose corn syrup) is also one of the most genetically modified crops in the world.
GMOs weren’t a concern for me as I used human-grade organic corn in my original recipe, but I ended up making a corn-free chicken feed because my original flock stopped eating corn, as well as lentils and kamut. (What can I say? They’re picky little ladies.)
Eliminating corn from the recipe wasn’t a big deal, but I did need to find a protein-rich replacement for the lentils and kamut.
Here’s what I’ve been using…
Disclosure: All products on this page are independently selected. If you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.
High-protein ingredients for homemade corn-free chicken feed
Triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye, contains 17 percent protein and is an excellent source of energy. It used to be carried by my delivery co-op, Azure Standard (where I buy most of my other bulk grains), but has been hard to find in recent months.
I now source organic triticale from an Oregon supplier, but you can also find conventionally grown triticale from a Florida farm that specializes in pasture seed. Rolled triticale (which can be used interchangeably with triticale berries) is also offered on Amazon occasionally.
My other new ingredient, rye, contains 13 percent protein and something in it makes my chickens go crazy! They gobble the grains out of my hand like it’s candy.
Rye is fairly cheap and easy to find, though the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture suggests feeding rye only to laying hens at peak egg production. (You can substitute many other grains for it in the meantime.)
I also increased my sesame seed serving to 2 cups, and kept the rest of the recipe the same.
For many chicken-keepers, the easiest and cheapest source of (non-soy) protein is split peas and field peas, which I would wholeheartedly use if my chickens actually ate legumes. (They’re 50/50 on them, so I usually modify their feed every few months to keep things interesting.)
If your local supplier doesn’t carry soft white wheat berries, you can simply use 6 cups of the more common hard red wheat berries instead.
My updated corn-free chicken feed recipe is still within the 17 percent protein range for layers and still costs the same to feed them.
If you’re having difficulty finding any of the ingredients below, keep in mind that plenty of other grains, seeds, and legumes can be substituted and this recipe is not meant to be a rigid diet for your flock.
You should still be giving your girls a variety of healthy treats, such as fresh greens, dried mealworms, or dried black soldier fly larvae, and spring is the perfect time to let them loose in your garden to help turn over mulch and soil.
Nutritional supplements for DIY corn-free chicken feed
For added vitamins and minerals, I use brewer’s yeast and kelp granules. Both can be found at well-stocked pet stores and feed stores, health food places, or even online.
Animal-grade supplements are more cost-effective than human-grade, so I recommend going that route if it’s available. You do not need to spend a lot of money to make quality feed!
If you’re not able to source these nutritional supplements for your homemade poultry feed, you can order Fertrell Poultry Nutri-Balancer from Azure Standard, Amazon, or your local feed store, or ask if they carry any other vitamin/mineral premix. (Just follow the directions on the package for proper serving sizes.)
It also might be a good idea to find other chicken-keepers to go in on an order with you, as a 10-pound bag of Nutri-Balancer would last forever unless you have a very large flock.
The girls still get grit and oyster shells in separate containers to peck as they please… but these days, I’ve also been washing and crushing up their eggshells to use in place of the oyster shells when I can’t make it to our local feed store.
With six hens now, there are plenty of eggshells to go around! (We even crush up eggshells to put in our tomato planting holes.)
For more recommendations, as well as information on how all of these grains are beneficial for your flock, check out my original homemade chicken feed recipe and its comments.
Homemade Soy-Free Corn-Free Chicken Feed With Whole Grains
Makes 8 1/2 pounds (fills 10-pound feeder)
4 cups oat groats
4 cups black oil sunflower seeds
4 cups hard red wheat berries
2 cups soft white wheat berries
2 cups triticale berries
2 cups rye berries
2 cups millet
2 cups sesame seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup brewer’s yeast
1/4 cup kelp granules
Free-choice oyster shells (or crushed eggshells)
Combine all of the ingredients, except the oyster shells and grit, in a small bucket. Pour the mixture into a feeder.
Put the oyster shells and grit in separate containers and offer them free-choice to your chickens to eat as they wish.
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on April 15, 2013.
Nancy Jacques BarrattJuly 30, 2017 at 8:13 pm
I thought I read on one of the university extension pages that it wasn’t good to give too much oats to hens. You use 4 parts HRW, 4 parts Oats and 2 parts Rye etc.
Linda from Garden BettyAugust 6, 2017 at 7:38 am
Define “too much” in quantity? I’ve never had a problem using these ratios to feed my chickens.
Nancy Jacques BarrattAugust 8, 2017 at 5:42 am
can be fed a wide variety of grains and will do well if the grains are
fed in a balanced ration. Chicks can be fed wheat, oats or barley. The
oats or barley need to be limited to 25% of the starter diet**. <<<http://www.misa.umn.edu/).
“In small quantities, each one is okay. But if that’s all a farmer is
using, then it’s going to be a problem.” The challenge becomes finding a
diet that is simultaneously high in protein and essential amino acids
and minimizes the effect of the anti-nutritive aspects of each crop.
Linda from Garden BettyAugust 15, 2017 at 6:58 am
None of the ingredients comprise 25% of my recipe by weight or volume.
6nationsJuly 27, 2017 at 6:41 pm
Thank you so much for your site and information on organically raised chickens! Is this recipe the one you use for fermenting? I’d like to try fermenting the feed using your recipe and am wondering if these are some of the things I might add to do so. Thank you!
Linda from Garden BettyAugust 6, 2017 at 7:39 am
Yes, this is the exact same recipe I ferment, minus the brewer’s yeast.
LeslyFebruary 25, 2017 at 6:59 am
What can I substitute in this recipe to add peas ? I’m trying to feed my chickens a good diet but that’s also easy in my wallet!
Linda from Garden BettyFebruary 27, 2017 at 1:24 am
Peas are high-protein so you can use them as a substitute for the triticale or sesame.
LeslieOctober 23, 2016 at 5:33 am
I went to Azure Standard and see that their “organic” grains come from China. This country’s environment is heavily contaminated and their “organic” practices are suspect. I won’t purchase any from there.
Linda Ly of Garden BettyOctober 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm
I just checked the countries of origin for the ingredients I frequently order from Azure Standard:
Organic rolled triticale flakes – USA (grown in Montana)
Organic hard red wheat – USA
Organic soft white wheat – USA
Organic flax seeds – USA
Organic rye berries – USA
Organic kelp granules – Iceland
I personally haven’t come across any items that are made in China, but with every purchase, it’s always a good idea to double-check the product descriptions.
Tracy AdlerOctober 20, 2016 at 10:36 am
Hi Linda. I’ve not had any luck with getting your feed calculator to work. I was buying my own grains and fermenting but I’ve noticed my chickens are getting skinny. I feed: quinoa, flax, split peas (2 types), lentils (2 types), millet, kamut, hard red wheat, oat groats, amaranth, and black oil sunflower seeds. I buy all human grade organic ingredients. Sometimes depending on the supply at the bulk section of my organic grocery store, I have to add more or less of something. I give the black oil sunflower seeds as a treat. I was also giving superworms as well for treats. Since I haven’t been able to get the calculator to work there is a good chance that the feed isn’t balanced since I just add a little of this a little of that… and mix a 5 gallon bucket for my 10 chickens and 1 turkey. I only have access via a mobile phone so that’s probably why. I do like you do with the fermenting and add back as much as I take out. I have a tight lid on too and it always smells fruity but I’m wondering if I’m not going through it quick enough and honestly I’m not sure how much to feed. All my girls free range but we live in the high desert so there is no grass. I have a working relationship with the produce manager at our organic store and I get free organic produce and juice pulp that I add as well. I was letting them free feed but had an issue with squirrels so I started feeding only in the morning and giving treats during the day. Not sure what to do. I have checked for illness but that isn’t the case. I came across another blog that had the same issue when switching to homemade. I would love some input as I really prefer to feed my own. Thanks so much 🙂
Linda Ly of Garden BettyOctober 28, 2016 at 2:38 am
It’s hard to judge what “skinny” is if you were previously feeding commercial grains that were heavy on corn and soy – might your chickens simply be at their desired weight now? The only way to know is to weigh them and double-check that against the recommended weight for their breeds. If they are indeed losing weight on your custom feed, then you’ll need to find a way to use the feed calculator to formulate an appropriate diet for them.
As for how much fermented grain to give them, you can start with 1/3 to 1/2 cup per chicken and adjust it accordingly based on their needs. Here’s more info on fermenting: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/why-and-how-to-ferment-your-chicken-feed/
Tracy AdlerDecember 15, 2016 at 9:22 pm
The commercial feed I fed was scratch n peck naturally free layer so I don’t believe it was inundated with junk in it as I combed over the ingredients list prior. I really wish I. Could get your feed calculator to work 🙁 I noticed in your feed recipes you don’t add any additional vitamins. Is this because it should be covered by the feed? In scratch n peck i see all the dusty vitamins that they used to just eat around and I wasn’t fermenting at that time. Also, if fermenting your recipe, would I still include the Brewer’s yeast? I have a wealth of questions lol sorry. I’m sure I have more but can’t think of them at the moment. Thanks!
Linda Ly of Garden BettyDecember 30, 2016 at 12:55 am
I do not add a vitamin and mineral supplement since I include such a wide range of grains, seeds, and legumes (as well as fresh greens and other treats). Making a feed like this on a commercial level would be cost-prohibitive, which is why feed producers use a supplement like Fertrell’s Nutri-Balancer. If you choose to ferment my recipe, you would leave out the brewer’s yeast. Here’s more info on that: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/why-and-how-to-ferment-your-chicken-feed/
Connie NicholsonAugust 23, 2017 at 4:01 pm
Try a different browser to use the calculator?
AnneJune 8, 2016 at 6:40 am
Can I use roasted flax seeds? That’s what I have on hand.
Heather TimmonsSeptember 30, 2016 at 3:52 pm
Hello. I would not suggest it for them, mainly because once you roast any seed or nut, you denature the oils (nutrition) and then they can go rancid easier. I would keep them in my refrigerator and use them myself. That being said, I only ever use refrigerated and whole, fresh flax. Once it is ground, it starts going rancid in 15 minutes, at room temp. I grind on the spot to sprinkle or add to smoothies….etc. I actually prefer Chia seeds, that have such an amazingly high vitamin E content (anti-oxident), that they can stay shelf stable at room temp for over 5 years.
Ok, so that is more info than you probably wanted to hear on flax…but if you are eating the eggs they are laying, I would not give them roasted seeds/nuts of any kind. 😀
Linda Ly of Garden BettyOctober 17, 2016 at 5:02 pm
Yes, you can.
Linda Ly of Garden BettyApril 27, 2016 at 1:27 am
Mary RochaApril 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm
I’m so glad I found your site. I adopted 4 chickens, and they forage everyday and i have been using the scratch and peck organic layer. I was looking for a recipe to see if I can lower cost.
what can I use instead of triticale? Azure is out of stock rigth now, and other sites I found it seems expensive.
Linda Ly of Garden BettyApril 26, 2016 at 10:52 pm
For triticale, you can use either the whole gains or the rolled flakes – I believe Azure carries both. You can also try substituting with spelt, kamut, wild rice… I recommend downloading my chicken feed calculator at http://www.gardenbetty.com/2014/11/garden-bettys-chicken-feed-calculator-for-determining-your-protein-content/ to assist with creating your own custom feed.
KyerstenMarch 26, 2016 at 11:27 pm
Thank you for providing the calculator…but I cannot edit and add anything to the spreadsheet…? What am I doing wrong?
Linda Ly of Garden BettyApril 27, 2016 at 1:26 am
Please make sure you follow all the instructions in this post as well as in the email you receive after you submit your email address: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2014/11/garden-bettys-chicken-feed-calculator-for-determining-your-protein-content/
kyerstenApril 27, 2016 at 8:16 am
Thank you so much, I got it figured out and am loving playing with the different rations I can make. Also finding it very beneficial to making my homemade rabbit ration, as well, so thanks again!
Karen WondergemMarch 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm
Thank you for the recipe! I am ‘gluten sensitive’- not full blown celiac, but if I eat too much gluten, especially non organic, I will regret it for a few days. I am also egg sensitive, which I attribute to what is being fed to them. We are getting our first flock of chickens this month. I am going to try your feed recipe, but if it upsets my belly, what would you say is a good replacement for the wheat and rye? I bought all organic, so I am hoping its a good feed for both me and the chickens. I also plan to supplement with mealworms, grit and oystershell- is there anything else I need to feed them besides this?
Linda Ly of Garden BettyMarch 7, 2016 at 2:11 pm
Some good non-wheat substitutes are buckwheat, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, various types of peas… if you scroll through the comment thread, you’ll find plenty of other suggestions as well.
Mealworms are great for protein and oyster shells are needed for calcium, but you can further round out their diet with leafy greens. This post goes into more detail: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/03/how-to-get-those-delightful-dark-orange-yolks-from-your-backyard-chickens/
Good luck and enjoy!
Jerry MathewsFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:25 am
are producers of certified Halal and non Halal Frozen Chicken and we
are looking for serious buyers to extend our long term business. We
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problem. Our product meet both International and National Standards. We
can supply various Frozen Chicken cuts such as;
1. frozen whole chicken
2. frozen chicken feet
3. frozen chicken Paws
4. frozen chicken breast
5. frozen chicken thighs
6. frozen chicken drumstick
7. frozen chicken leg quatars
8. frozen chicken wings
Cathy Vandenberg- HillFebruary 11, 2016 at 8:11 am
I top dress my fermented grains with Fertrell and Kelp granules. Is the kelp better, worse or the same if added to the fermenting process? Also, I have access to fish meal and plan to top dress with it as well. I checked the Azure site for the triticale and they only listed it as flakes? Have you ever included fish meal in your dry mixes? I doubt I would add it to the fermentation bucket….the kelp smells fishy enough when wet (that’s the reason I top dress with the Kelp rather than add it to ferment).
I also top dress with vitamin A, D, E and K granules
Cathy Vandenberg- HillFebruary 11, 2016 at 8:23 am
I have found the best early feed for chicks that I have evern used. Rice, cooked with Turmeric and green tea leaves. When I take it off the heat, I add quinoa and stir in then let it set till cooled and fluff. You’ve seen how chicks will grab a worm and run with it? Well, that is how they eat this rice and my rarebreeds, that have been So hard to raise, have flourished on this. I slowly add the fermented feed and chick grit as they get big enough to handle it.
BarbaraDecember 21, 2015 at 10:05 am
Have you had any feather picking problems from lack of Methionine which is mixed at 2 pounds per ton commercially and not enough. Most organic feed also has Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation that is an enzyme but known as mold and is toxic. I have over 80 hens and organic is expensive.
Linda Ly of Garden BettyJanuary 2, 2016 at 8:54 pm
No feather-picking problems in my flock. If you’re using a commercial feed and are concerned that your chickens aren’t getting enough nutrition from that or from foraging on their own, you can try adding Fertrell Nutri-Balancer to their food.
Nancy Jacques BarrattJuly 28, 2015 at 10:45 am
Organic BOSS is quite expensive. Have you seen any information on sunflower seeds being sprayed with pesticides? Is it something to worry about?
Linda LyAugust 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm
This would depend on the supplier of the sunflower seeds, so I suggest contacting them directly to see if they spray, or if their sources spray with pesticides. You could also grow a large crop of sunflowers next to your chicken coop every year to ensure the seeds are organic.
Rachel Marie BurnsJuly 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm
I’ve heard the average bird can eat 1/2c-2c per day and there is about 23 cups in that mix. At $1 per pound (which some seem to pay in remote areas) that’s $8.50 for this batch which is 0.37 per cup. If your birds were eating only 1/2c (dry weight) per day (assuming you fermented it and free ranged) that’s still 0.19 per day per bird (so for a flock of a dozen you’d be paying $2.28 per day in feed). For getting an egg every other day you’d be paying 0.38 per egg or $4.56 per dozen.
At your 0.70 per pound rate you pay $5.95 per batch and 0.26 per cup. If your birds eat 1/2c per day you’re paying 0.13 per day. Assuming they lay every other day you’d be paying $3.12 in feed per dozen. That’s not bad 🙂
On the more expensive end if your birds are cooped up because it’s cold and you’re feeding two cups per day at the more expensive rate for an egg every other day (if you’re lucky) you’re paying $1.48 in feed per egg or $17.76 per dozen @_@
Linda LyJuly 19, 2015 at 11:32 pm
Wow, you’re certainly better at math than I am! 😉
Hapi WilsonJune 3, 2015 at 7:45 am
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us! I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and have learned a lot! I have a couple of questions and hope that you can help because I’m sure someone, somewhere, has had the same questions. Can I use organic nutritional yeast instead of the brewers yeast? Is one better than the other? I want to feed all organic and no by-products (which brewers yeast is). I also read that brewers yeast has a bitter after taste and nutritional yeast has a nutty cheesy flavor. If I was a chicken, I think I would vote for the cheesy nutty one lol! Thanks for your time and advice on this subject, and congratulations on your book! Hapi Wilson
Linda LyJune 11, 2015 at 8:23 pm
Brewers yeast and nutritional yeast are fairly similar, though it depends on the brand you’re buying. Check the label to make sure the one you choose contains B vitamins. The flavor of one or the other is not a factor in determining what to feed your chickens. Most brewers yeast sold as a nutritional supplement these days is primary grown (not a byproduct of beer brewing like it used to be), so there’s no bitterness anyway.
VeeApril 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm
I cannot seem to get the Feed Calculator. I clicked on the link in my email, but nothing ever happened. It’s been almost two weeks. Am I doing something wrong? Love your site, by the way!
Linda LyMay 1, 2015 at 12:28 am
Hi, I’ll look into this and resend the email. Look for it in your inbox shortly! 🙂
SamanthaApril 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm
All of this is so new to me, thank you for sharing! My chickens are almost 8 weeks old and I am getting ready to switch them from a starter feed to a grower feed. What changes would I need to make to this recipe?
Linda LyApril 23, 2015 at 1:34 am
Pullets need a little less protein than layers (what my recipe is formulated for). You can bring the value down by omitting 1 cup of sesame seeds, and I’d also recommend replacing the rye with something else, like perhaps barley, buckwheat, or brown rice.
Also, leave out the free-choice calcium, as your chickens won’t need that until they start laying.
MegApril 4, 2015 at 4:51 am
Thank you for all the great info! I do have a question though…can I ferment this? Should I? What’s your take on that?
Linda LyApril 9, 2015 at 12:20 am
Yes, I wrote about fermenting feed here: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/why-and-how-to-ferment-your-chicken-feed/
Celestine SullivanMarch 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm
Black oil sunflower seeds…I can only find this ingredient but they are with shells Or the shelled sunflower seeds will be the same?
Linda LyMarch 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm
BOSS always come with shells, and chickens love them! (No need to shell the seeds.)
Celestine SullivanMarch 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm
Thanks so much Linda!!! You’re a life saver!!
Cathy Vandenberg- HillFebruary 11, 2016 at 8:14 am
BOSS does not always come with the hulls. You can buy it in bulk at Walmart in the wild birdseeds in the garden area
chickenmom22March 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm
I love your whole grain chicken feed recipe. Have been using it for
about 8 months and my chickens look very healthy. One question, since stores are selling eggs high in omega 3
now, could we increase flax seeds to 2 cups to increase omega 3 or is
that not a good idea?
My chickens don’t like dry lentils or split peas, but they love them in fermented feed. I put everything from your recipe except yeast in a jar with water to make the fermented feed and they eat every bit of it. They will also eat the split peas if I cook them and add some spices for seasoning. They don’t like it plain and I wouldn’t either. But I know spices are good for them, so why not spice it up!!
Linda LyMarch 17, 2015 at 6:43 pm
Commercial egg producers have to add omega 3 because their feeds are so high in soybeans, which are full of omega 6. It’s really just a marketing gimmick to make up for their lack of a balanced feed to begin with.
I wouldn’t recommend increasing the flax seeds in my recipe unless you’re increasing other grains and seeds overall. You want to keep the proportions somewhat the same (especially if you give your girls leafy greens, since those are high in omega 3s as well).
LynneFebruary 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm
Dear Garden Betty, My chickens are super picky. One likes wheat, but not barley or oats. They all disapprove of lentils and peas. Another likes barley, but not oats. They all love rice, but that is so low in protein. They don’t do too well with crumble and it gets pulverized in my feeder. I have one of those automatic feeders, but they pick so much, I need to give it a stir each day, otherwise they get a little aggressive. The good news is that they get lots of greens and fresh herbs, and they are in my compost eating grubs, bugs and worms. They love to eat their own egg shells too. Their feathers are beautiful and shiny and appear healthy and their eggs and shells are wonderful. I enjoy your blogs on feeding and health. Please keep it up because I have learned so much from you. My crazy little monsters thank you. Cluck! Cluck!
Linda LyFebruary 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm
I’m glad you’ve found all the information useful! Thank you for reading!
tokiesFebruary 17, 2017 at 10:17 pm
I wouldn’t undercut rice. brown rice overall in a freerange or “compost chicken” setup is worth it. cos if they are either of those they are getting tons of protein already. I add a little bit of azolla and duckweed on top of my mix. grows fast, grows easy, and im mostly using it as an easy meal to get them to move where i want to without issue. these mixes are more like “treats” then the main meal. 60% forage is the target. you might even want to plan some permaculture perennial plants. so they can just get there own meal as much as possible. chickens are smarter then people give them credit for. they get bored.
AngillaFebruary 2, 2015 at 9:25 am
Do you think this mix would be good for duck’s as well? I’m trying to find an equally healthy alternative for them as well. If not this combination, do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much!
Linda LyFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm
Laying ducks can eat the same feed as laying chickens, however they do require more niacin so you’ll have to supplement with it. Since I don’t raise ducks, I can’t help you much more beyond that.
AngillaFebruary 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm
That is a big help – thank you!
Linda LyFebruary 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm
You’re welcome, good luck!
Gu estNovember 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm
I read somewhere that Chickens would eat 80% bugs 20% greens but the ducks would do the reverse 20% bugs and 80% greens
TracyJanuary 15, 2015 at 3:37 pm
I am making home made chick starter and wanted to confirm that the BOSS is probably not good for them? Hulled sunflower seeds would seem better to me? If that is the case then would that change the nutritional value on the calculator spreadsheet? How can I calculate this then? Also if I include barley does it have to be hulled for chicks? Lastly I saw a recipe with wheat bran for baby chicks, not sure the exact protein level but from what I could gather it looks high, is there any way to add that to the calculator? Thanks so much!
Linda LyJanuary 19, 2015 at 5:12 am
Hulled sunflower seeds might be a better choice for chick starter as they’re smaller, but in general, chicks can eat the same seeds and grains that chickens do. The issue merely comes down to size; hulled or unhulled does not matter.
The protein value would indeed change, so you’ll need to find out what it is for the hulled sunflower seeds (and anything else you wish to add). Once you know the numbers, copy and paste an existing row in the calculator spreadsheet, then make sure the last row (with the totals) adds up all the previous rows. (You can see the formulas used if you click on the fields; all of them are editable.) If you go back to my post with the calculator, I have some tips for finding the protein content if your packaging doesn’t show it.
TracyJanuary 7, 2015 at 6:03 pm
Thanks Linda, that helps. If I modify the volume of the same ingredients on my chart to up it to 17% that should be fine right? And yes I do supplement a lot of greens, mealworms, and other stuff.
Linda LyJanuary 7, 2015 at 10:49 pm
Yes, that would be totally fine.
TracyJanuary 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm
I plugged in your exact ingredients listed into your calculator and the percentage of protein cam up 15.7%. Thank you for this wonderful calculator but I wanted to ask why it did not make it up to 17% based on my measurements of the one cup per lb. entered?
Linda LyJanuary 7, 2015 at 5:52 pm
The 1% difference could be due to any number of factors… different scales used, different crops of grains purchased, or different ingredients from other producers. I periodically update the protein values depending on where I source my grains, as they sometimes change according to the producer or season. The same goes for an ingredient like brewer’s yeast, which varies across brands. So, it’s possible that at the time I calculated my corn-free recipe, I was using an ingredient with a different protein value than what’s currently listed in the spreadsheet.
In any case, if you are coming up with 15.7% I would not worry about it if you’re still supplementing this feed with other things like mealworms, weeds, or kitchen scraps. The target range for layers is 16-17% but that number is not the end all, be all of proper nutrition.
Miranda GallegosDecember 22, 2014 at 7:04 pm
I’ve been doing some research on organic feeds and some recipes call for a couple table spoons of olive oil, coconut oil, or molasses to be mixed in with the food. What is your opinion on that?
Linda LyDecember 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm
All three of those ingredients have their own health benefits, but typically they’re added to the feed to help the powdery stuff (like brewer’s yeast) stick to the grains and not settle at the bottom. But if you’re only mixing small batches of feed at a time, the settling shouldn’t be a problem.
Booboo Modest MaidenDecember 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm
It may just be too cold since it’s freezing her already some nights and just cold other nights. I’ll look into meal worms. I saw a video of how to raise the on Yu Tube
Booboo Modest MaidenDecember 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm
I read that already and I feed my chicken a lot of good stuff already and still get pale yellow eggs.
Linda LyDecember 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm
It may be that your new layers are still adjusting. The yolks should darken over time if you consistently give them greens and mealworms. If you’re not finding any bugs in the mulch pile, try moistening it to attract them.
Booboo Modest MaidenDecember 14, 2014 at 9:40 am
I have 3 of my 9 pullets laying now and the eggs they are laying have pale yolks. They are kept in a 10 X 30 run and we live in Oklahoma so not any grass left. I feed them a mix of rolled oats which they love, hulled barley, flax seed, kelp, corn, and green split peas ( they didn’t like yellow peas) all of which I get from Azure. I give them scraps from my kitchen as well. I don’t have any meal worms to supplement them but I did place a mulch pile in their pen and re-stack it daily so they can scratch through it.. We are getting a cow in the spring and will be moving the chickens to the barn with the cow and they will be able to free range in the acre- an a half field with the cow, but for now they have to stay where they are since there are roaming dogs from our neighbors. Do I really need all the other grains, and is that why the yolks are light? I mix mostly oats, and barley and smaller amounts of flax seeds, pea, and kelp.
Like I said they are just beginning to lay and the eggs are still small.
I have oyster shell out in the run for them.
The breeds I have are Lavender Orpingtons, Ameracuanas, Barred Rocks, and a couple RIRs. I’m unable to tell which pullets are laying except that at least one of my Ameracuanas is laying because about every other day I get a beautiful light blue egg.
Thanks for any help.
Linda LyDecember 15, 2014 at 6:39 pm
Feeding a wide variety of grains and seeds makes for a more balanced diet, as each ingredient contains a different assortment of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that a chicken needs. As for yolk color, here’s a post I wrote about darkening the color through a nutritious diet: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/03/how-to-get-those-delightful-dark-orange-yolks-from-your-backyard-chickens/
KathleenDecember 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm
This looks like a great recipe for chicken feed – unfortunately, my chickens will not eat wholegrains 🙁 it’s pellets or nothing, I tried for weeks to get them eat it – do you have any idea why they wouldn’t recognise the grains as food? So weird!
Linda LyDecember 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm
I really have no idea. I’m assuming you’re gradually changing their diet from pellets to grains (by mixing the grains into their feed little by little, instead of giving them the grains all at once). Also, if they get hungry, they will eventually eat because they have no other choice. If you keep refilling their feeder with pellets, they’ll come to expect only that as food, and will continue to leave the grains uneaten. One tip is to keep your chickens in an enclosed area where they can’t forage on their own.
KathleenDecember 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Yes I did it gradually, plus kept them enclosed – I don’t think they ate very much of it :/ Thanks for the advice, i’ll keep persisting 🙂
Mallory LarkinApril 28, 2015 at 3:49 am
My chickens are the exact opposite! They refuse to eat pellets – they just assume forage for their food than eat even a bite. I had been ordering Scratch and peck feed which they LOVE but shipping if hefty to the East Coast so Garden Betty’s homemade for my picky ladies 🙂
KathleenMay 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm
Actually now they eat the grain however, only 1 or 2 types are picked out – the rest are kicked out onto the ground. So fussy!
JennyMay 23, 2015 at 11:41 am
The best way to remedy that, is fermenting the feed. It makes it all taste good so they are much less likely to leave anything behind, provided it’s not too large of a grain, like whole corn or peas.
KathleenMay 23, 2015 at 6:15 pm
Thanks, i’ll try that!
Alma BarrazaNovember 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm
Thank you for sharing this recipe with us chicken lovers! 🙂
I made a mistake when ordering the listed ingredients and ordered Milo instead of Millet! 🙁 Is it still ok to feed it to the chickens? Would it be ok to ferment it, as I plan on feeding them fermented grains at least 50% of the time. Thank you
Linda LyNovember 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm
Milo (also known as sorghum) is fine to include in a feed, and yes you can still ferment it. I ferment everything except for the brewer’s yeast (which I only add if I give my chickens a dry feed).
SamOctober 29, 2014 at 10:11 am
If I can use split peas, how much would you use and would I take something else out? Thanks!
Linda LyNovember 3, 2014 at 6:33 pm
Split peas are similar to sesame seeds in terms of protein, so you could do 1 cup of each. (Or sub one for the other.)
JillianOctober 16, 2014 at 7:01 am
Do you think Kelp powder would work in this?
Linda LyOctober 19, 2014 at 8:41 pm
Kelp powder is fine, but keep in mind it does settle more easily in the feed, so you’ll want to stir it up often.
Carey McClelland DezaSeptember 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Hi All, Linda GREAT blog!!! I was wondering if you need to soak this feed overnight? Do the chickens eat it fine raw? Thanks
Linda LySeptember 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm
Hi! You do not need to soak seeds and grains for chickens. (If you let your chickens forage, you’ll notice that they love to eat seeds and other things, just as birds in the wild do.)
If you prefer to soak, you might be interested in making your own fermented chicken feed: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/why-and-how-to-ferment-your-chicken-feed/
JordanSeptember 16, 2014 at 8:04 am
Linda! I just found your site yesterday and LOVE it! Thank you! We just got chickens this past weekend….laying hens and pullets. I love your recipe but can’t seem to get it down to the .70 cent per pound mark that you said you have it at. We are at 1.69 and that’s looking at azure, our local coop and amazon. Where did we go wrong? We are in NW Arkansas so things should be quite a bit cheaper here but even using azure, our numbers are still high without the shipping. Thanks for your help.
Linda LySeptember 18, 2014 at 11:44 pm
The more you buy in bulk, the lower your costs come down. My price is based on 25 lb bags of most of the Azure grains, and 5 lb bags of things like kelp and brewer’s yeast. I never buy anything less than 5 lbs. Also, I price my feed by weight for a more accurate calculation. BOSS is on the more expensive side (96 cents/lb where I buy it) but since it’s so lightweight, those 4 cups only cost 77 cents per batch of feed that I mix (using the above recipe).
PamAugust 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm
Hi, I have a question about the trictale berries. I cannot find them on azure standard. I did find the flakes on there. Can I use those instead or is there somewhere else you can recommend? Thanks in advance.
Linda LyAugust 6, 2014 at 5:10 pm
Triticale flakes are fine, they’re simply the rolled version of the berries. My chickens love them!
Deb CaseyAugust 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm
Azure Standard has triticale grain in both 25 lbs and 50 lbs bags.
KarinaAugust 4, 2014 at 2:15 am
Hi Linda, fantastic posts, thank you!! I have a question in regards of the Kelp granules. Can you use every kind of seaweed powder/granules, like Wakame for example or is there a huge difference in nutrients and sodium amount in particular? How much sodium should a chicken get round about? Thank you!!!
Linda LyAugust 4, 2014 at 4:18 am
Hi Karina, you can use any variety of seaweed. I add 1% dried kelp in proportion to the total amount of the feed.
KarinaSeptember 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm
Awesome, thank you very much. Also, could you be so kind to tell me the percentage you use of the brewer’s yeast? I made a spread sheet to calculate protein content, Kelp and find the right variety of grains etc., works great, thank you for your ideas!!
Linda LySeptember 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm
A spreadsheet makes it very easy to change up ingredients and calculate protein content on the fly… I keep one too! 🙂 In regards to your question, my brewer’s yeast is about 2% of the total amount of the feed.
KarinSeptember 11, 2014 at 12:26 am
Awesome, thought so, but wasn’t sure if I could translate cups percentage to weight. Yeahi, your are great, thanks again!!!
AriJuly 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm
Hi Linda! I am not a chicken mom yet, but am thinking about getting 4 little chicks soon, and am doing search before making the big jump. I was wondering roughly how long this 8 1/2lb recipe may last my 4 chicks? Looking forward to hearing back!
Linda LyJuly 31, 2014 at 2:10 pm
Every flock is different so unfortunately I don’t know how much your chicks will eat. This is something you have to monitor once you have them.
LaurenJune 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm
This is not necessarily related to your chicken feed post, but could you do a post about what you feed your dogs?
Linda LyJune 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm
It’s a post I plan to write in the next few weeks. 🙂