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How to Make Homemade Whole Grain Chicken Feed

Here's a simple homemade chicken feed recipe to make for your flock using whole seeds and grains.

Metal scoop with seeds and grains

So you want to make your own chicken feed? Trust me, you're not alone. I get requests for a homemade feed recipe all the time. 

Some people want to be sure they're feeding organic or non-GMO grains to their chickens, some can't find a whole/cracked chicken feed locally.  

Some have tried the commercial whole grain feeds and find them too "fishy" (that was my experience using a popular brand a few years ago that uses fish meal as the protein) or too expensive to have shipped.

So, I decided it was finally time to share a homemade chicken feed recipe.

(scroll to the bottom for a printable recipe card!)

chicken eating pail of grains

Mixing your Own Homemade Chicken Layer Feed

Now let me preface this by saying that I generally do not recommend making your own chicken feed. Let me repeat that. I DO NOT recommend mixing your own chicken feed.

Chickens, more than probably any type of livestock, need proper nutrition to thrive because of the immense energy and nutrients it takes them to lay an egg every day.

Commercial feed companies pay poultry scientists and nutritionists to formulate balanced feed for your flock's well being. Making your own chicken feed takes more than just mixing up a bunch of grains and calling it a day. There really, truly is a science behind the commercial formulations.

chickens eating homemade layer feed

Not only that, by virtue of being a whole/cracked grain feed mixture, naturally your more aggressive chickens or those higher in the pecking order will push the others aside and eat all the "good"stuff first. 

So it's more difficult to ensure that all flock members are eating a balanced diet when you feed individually mixed grains instead of pellet or crumble. Just some things to keep in mind.

closeup grains and seeds

Scratch Grains vs. Homemade Chicken Layer Feed

I get it though. You love your chickens, you want them to be happy. You love making them treats. 

But instead of making their feed, why not custom make their scratch? Since scratch grains are meant to be a treat not their main diet, there are no rules. Mix to your heart's content. Grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruits. Go nuts! 

You can mix any combination, in any amounts. (Just be sure to limit scratch grains you offer to your girls to afternoons in the winter and to only about 1 Tablespoon per chicken since it is a treat not a balanced diet).

closeup of chicken eating homemade layer feed

Commercial Chicken Feed vs. Homemade Chicken Layer Feed

But back to the chicken feed. You're determined to make your own aren't you? I'll implore you one last time to take a look at the commercial feeds. 

Sure, there are some bad feed companies, but there are also some really great ones.

Small Pet Select offers non-GMO whole/cracked grain feed. Grubbly Farms offers a feed that uses insects as the protein source instead of the usual fish meal.

I highly suggest you take a look at what they offer. But if you're still determined, then I'll share my recipe for Homemade Chicken Layer Feed. 

How to Make Homemade Whole Grain Chicken Feed

This recipe will make a 20 pound batch. Most of the grains and seeds can be sourced online (I added some links to where I buy mine at the bottom of this post), or at your local feed store or grain co-operative.

Your initial cost will, of course, be high but buying the grains in bulk will bring the cost down quite a bit. My rough estimate for what it might cost you to make just one batch of the feed is $3.75/lb. which is obviously crazy expensive, but the cost would naturally come down for larger quantity batches.

row of glass jars filled with seeds and grains

Homemade Chicken Layer Feed Recipe

(makes 20 pounds) 

5 pounds dried split peas
3 pounds white wheat
3 pounds cracked corn
2 1/2 pounds dried grubs
2 pounds barley
2 pounds rolled oats
1 pound alfalfa meal or pellets (larger pellets might need to be pulverized in a food processor)
1/2 pound sunflower seeds
1/4 pound organic sea kelp
1/4 pound brewers yeast with garlic
1/4 pound probiotic powder
1/4 pound whole flax seed or ground flax

(scroll down for links to buying sources)

small dish filled with homemade layer feed

*free choice oyster shell and grit must be available at all times
**links at the bottom where I source the ingredients

Okay? Are you happy now? If you do make this feed recipe, please let me know how you like it. I have fed it to my chickens and ducks without any problems. In fact, they love it! 

Added Bonus: This feed ferments wonderfully. 

How to Save Money By Fermenting Feed
10 Reasons to Ferment Chicken Feed
10 Tips for Better Fermented Feed

chickens eating grains and seeds

But as with any diet, if you notice any health issues, consult a vet if they're serious and please switch back to a commercial feed that you know is perfectly balanced.

Now that I've written all the disclaimers and warned about the risks of mixing your own feed, I am of the mindset that since my chickens free range part of the day and also get a wide variety of treats nearly every day, their daily diet is NOT a fixed scientific formula. 

It's been that way for more than a decade and I've never had any health issues, sickness or anything in my flock. 

So I'm of the mind that as long as you offer a variety of nutritious foods that provide your chickens (and ducks) with enough calcium, protein and other nutrients they need, they know what to eat, how much and how often. 

And realistically, a great majority of backyard chickens don't live long enough to see any effects from possibly not eating a perfectly balanced diet due to predators, etc. 

So, go ahead and mix your own feed. If it makes you happy and makes your chickens happy, then ultimately I think that's what matters in the long run.

metal scoop with grains and seeds

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