Top 12 Best Chicken Feed Reviews (2021 Buyer’s Guide)

You want to provide your chickens the best possible feed. With so many chicken feed options, where do you start?

Do you choose a chicken feed in pellet form, or is a whole grain variety a healthier option? What about organic chicken feed? And what does “genetically modified organisms” (GMO) chicken feed mean?

When I first started keeping chickens in my backyard, I was confused by what comprised the best chicken feed. With little thought put into what I was feeding my flock, one of my younger hens suffered sour crop and laid soft-shell eggs.

With some emergency research and diet intervention, she is healthy again and now lays the most beautiful eggs yet!

To help you choose the best chicken feed, let’s look at the different types of chicken feed and the top 12 recommended products of 2020…

Our Top Picks for Chicken Feed

Before we proceed with the whole review here is a summary of the top 4 chicken feed from the lineup.

The Best Starter/Grower Chicken Feed for Chicks

Manna Pro Chick Starter and Grower Non-Medicated

It has a combination of vitamins and minerals for strong development and shiny feathers. It also offers a crumble texture for easy consumption of small chicks.

Manna Pro Chick Starter and Grower Non-Medicated

Manna Pro is a well-known brand of grower feed for chickens.

Their chick feed provides a balance of nutrients for hatchlings, including chicks, ducklings, and goslings.

This starter grower feed contains proteins and calcium for muscle and bone growth, essential for robust hens and roosters! 

As a feed for a mixed flock, a broad spectrum of vitamins will keep young chicks strong and healthy through the different growth stages.

Best Laying Feed for Hens

Kalmbach Feeds 17% Organic Layer Pellet

Its combination of probiotics, vitamins, and amino acids will help young hens grow into healthy adults.

Kalmbach Feeds 17% Organic Layer Pellet

The Kalmbach Layer Feed wins the category of top chicken feed for hens! It offers an above-average protein ratio with dried egg yolk.

The addition of hemp oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fats.

Research has shown that a diet of hemp seed oil for chickens increases Omega 3 and 6 fats in eggs.

Ingredients

Although Kalmbach All Natural Layer Pellets is not certified organic, it contains many essential vitamins, omega 3, and minerals.

A careful selection of ingredients works to maintain the healthy condition of chickens by supporting growth, feather formation, and immune strength.

Your hens are sure to lay the most beautiful eggs rich in healthy fats with Kalmbach All Natural Layer Pellets.

Quality

After investigating each of the 12 recommended chicken feeds, I have determined that the best chicken feeds for hens contain a high level of nutrition, support growth and immunity, and ensure that hens receive the calcium and proteins needed for healthy egg production.

An excellent quality feed can also prevent many ailments that affect older birds, including infections of the crop and respiratory illness.

Best Value Chicken Feed

Scratch and Peck Feeds Layer Feed for Chickens and Ducks

This mixed flock food is full of protein and minerals and is also soy-free. It provides a nutritiously balanced feed for both chickens and ducks.

Scratch and Peck Feeds Layer Feed for Chickens and Ducks

Coming in at an affordable price is the Scratch and Peck Feeds for Chickens and Ducks.

Along with the 16% protein requirement for hens in lay, Scratch and Peck Feeds contain vitamins, minerals, and organic ingredients that chickens require in their feed.

Scratch and Peck Feeds offers all types of chicken breeds optimum nutrition.

Specs

  • Organic: Yes
  • Grain Type: Wholegrains
  • Nutrition Content: 16% protein content, vitamins, soy-free, non-GMO

Pros

  • It is soy-free
  • It is non-GMO
  • It is natural

Cons

  • Dust from grains creates waste

(Top Pick) Best All-Around Chicken Feed

Modesto Milling Organic, Non-GMO Layer Crumbles

The layer booster is one of the top chicken foods and consists of 17% proteins for chickens 18 weeks and older.

Modesto Milling Organic, Non-GMO Layer Crumbles

Modesto Milling Organic Non-GMO Layer Crumble for chickens is my pick, personally.

The food consists of a crumble making it easier for backyard chickens to eat and digest.

It has high protein and vitamins that meet the nutritional requirements of chickens and laying hens.

Natural Deworming

If you need to deworm your chickens but hate the idea of chemicals, Modesto Milling offers diatomaceous earth.

The powdery supplement naturally prevents internal parasites and supports egg formation. 

The price is also more affordable compared to alternative products for chickens.

Chicken Feed Reviews

Purina Start & Grow Non-Medicated Chick Feed

With its protein and nutrient formula, Purina Start & Grow is a complete feed for developing chicks.

Purina Start & Grow Non-Medicated Chick Feed

Purina Start & Grow provides a protein-based crumble feed for chicks up to 18 weeks.

This chick feed is not a medicated chick food, so your hatchlings can develop naturally strong immune systems by eating it.

With its protein and nutrient formula, Purina Start & Grow is a complete feed for developing chicks.

Texture

Purina’s Starter & Grower feed has an ‘easy crumble’ texture, ideal for younger chickens. Larger whole grain feed is often a challenge for smaller beaks to pick up.

Younger chicks can have trouble digesting larger grains, which can lead to complications.

A combination of high protein, vitamins, and minerals is available for growing chickens. Purina chick feed provides an 18% protein ratio with a quality source of calcium for bone development, vitamins for immune strength, and probiotics for gut health.

Antibiotic Free

The great feature of Purina’s Chick Grower Feed is that it is not a medicated chick feed.

This means providing young birds an antibiotic-free diet, which further boosts their immunity and prevents antibiotic resistance. 

Nutrition

Purina Starter Feed is a wonderfully balanced diet and a worthy mention as a starter feed.

The only limitation is that this product is not organic.

If you are looking to raise an organically fed flock, then Purina Starter & Grower is not a suitable feed. Also, make sure it is soy-free.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Grain Type: Small Grower Crumble
  • Nutrient Content: 18% protein, vitamins, minerals, calcium

Pros

  • Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Crumble texture encourages feeding
  • Non-medicated
  • Prebiotics and probiotics

Cons

  • It is not organic

The Best Starter/Grower Chicken Feed for Chicks

Manna Pro Chick Starter and Grower Non-Medicated

It has a combination of vitamins and minerals for strong development and shiny feathers. It also offers a crumble texture for easy consumption of small chicks.

Manna Pro Chick Starter and Grower Non-Medicated

This product for growing chickens is not a medicated chick feed and offers a crumble texture that is easily consumed by small chicks.

This feed has a combination of vitamins and minerals for strong development and shiny feathers.

Owing to its balance of nutrients, it can be fed to a young flock up to 16 weeks of age.

Manna Pro Chick Starter and Grower is suitable for a mixed flock including ducklings and goslings. 

Texture

Much like Purina Chick Starter, Manna has incorporated the soft crumble texture making it easier for the smallest chicks to consume.

It also provides an 18% protein ratio helping young birds grow strong bones.

Protein also improves muscle formation and increases weight.

Non-Medicated

What makes the starter feed one of the best, is it’s non-medicated and corn free formula. 

Without antibiotics, chicks are protected against future resistance to antibiotic treatment.

They make sure that the feed contains high protein and corn-free ingredients.

While Manna Pro offers many benefits, it’s only limit is that it is not an organic feed. 

Specs

  • It is non-medicated
  • It has a crumble texture for young chicks
  • It has sufficient protein for muscle and bone health

Pros

  • It is non-medicated
  • It has a crumble texture for young chicks
  • It has sufficient protein for muscle and bone health

Cons

  • It contains processed grain by-products

Purina Layena+ Nutritionally Complete Layer Hen Feed

Purina Layena has combined protein, calcium, and essential nutrients to ensure your egg-producing chickens create hard shells and tasty yolks.

Purina Layena+ Nutritionally Complete Layer Hen Feed

Purina Layena provides a 16% protein ratio for chickens that start laying eggs.

Along with its fair protein content, it includes vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to improve the immune system and growth of maturing hens.

Non-Medicated

Purina Layena is free of antibiotics and contains oyster shell, which is the best calcium supplement for hens in lay.

When hens come into lay, they need all the nourishment they can get from their feed.

Ingredients

Purina Layena has combined protein, calcium, and essential nutrients to ensure your egg-producing chickens create hard shells and tasty yolks.

Oyster Shell

What is great about this food is the inclusion of oyster shell.

Oyster shell provides an excellent source of calcium. 

All chickens needs vitamins to stay healthy.

Layena+ provides vitamins A and E along with essential minerals to strengthen your hens’ immune systems.

The laying feed has also included prebiotics to support good bacteria in the crop and gut.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Grain Type: Crumble
  • Nutrient Content: 16% Protein, Vitamins A, D & E, Oyster shell for calcium

Pros

  • Organic: No
  • Grain Type: Crumble
  • Nutrient Content: 16% Protein, Vitamins A, D & E, Oyster shell for calcium

Cons

  • It does not contain any natural or organic ingredients

Best Value Chicken Feed

Scratch and Peck Feeds Layer Feed for Chickens and Ducks

This mixed flock food is full of protein and minerals and is also soy-free. It provides a nutritiously balanced feed for both chickens and ducks.

Scratch and Peck Feeds Layer Feed for Chickens and Ducks

Nutrition

Scratch and Peck Feeds provides a nutritiously balanced feed for both chickens and ducks.

This mixed flock food is full of protein and minerals and is also soy-free.

Soy can prevent vitamin and mineral uptake causing nutritional deficiencies in chickens.

All-Natural

This Scratch and Peck Feeds is available for an organic flock and for chickens from 20 weeks of age as it contains all-natural ingredients.

It is well-priced, making it a fair choice for the backyard flock.

To keep with its organic ingredients, Scratch and Peck Feeds is a soy-free feed for backyard chickens.

Soy Free

The best chicken feed does not contain soy because it is considered a filler ingredient.

If you are looking for a balanced layer feed for hens, Scratch and Peck feeds contains 16% protein and a variety of vitamins to help hens lay nutritious eggs. 

Organic

This soy free feed is certified organic and is a non-GMO product.

More chicken keepers are following a diet free from GMOs because it reduces the contamination of ingredients. 

This non-GMO backyard chicken feed contains grains.

Raw grains offer protein, healthy fats, and fiber which are perfect for large eggs with strong shells. The grain also creates a lot of powder that chickens cannot eat, which leads to wastage. 

Specs

  • Dust from grains creates waste

Pros

  • It is soy-free
  • It is non-GMO
  • It is natural

Cons

  • Organic: Yes
  • Grain Type: Wholegrains
  • Nutrition Content: 16% protein content, vitamins, soy-free, non-GMO

Manna Pro Ultimate Chicken Scratch

If you are looking for a healthy treat to spoil your chickens, then the Ultimate Scratch is a fair choice.

Manna Pro Ultimate Chicken Scratch

The Ultimate Scratch is a real treat for your feathered friends! Although it is not a complete feed for hens in lay, it feeds organic grains for chickens older than 16 weeks.

The scratch will keep your chickens busy as they sort through the ingredients.

Non-GMO

The Ultimate Chicken Scratch is a verified non-GMO product, great as a natural supplement.

This chicken scratch provides 7 whole grains that are naturally sourced with omega 3 fatty acids.

These grains do not include artificial flavors or colors and are non-GMO.

Healthy Treat

If you are looking for a healthy treat to spoil your chickens, then the Ultimate Chicken Scratch is a fair choice. 

You can introduce Manna Pro Ultimate Scratch by 10 weeks and older.

If your current feed is not balanced, the proteins and calcium in this product make it a suitable supplement for healthy eggs. 

Unfortunately, this product is more of a supplementary chicken treat served on the odd occasion.

It cannot be provided to hens laying eggs as a complete daily chicken feed.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Type: Scratch (grains and seeds with omega 3 fatty acids)
  • Nutrition Content: Supplementary proteins, source of calcium, and fiber

Pros

  • It provides a whole grain blend for chickens of any growth stage
  • It is non-GMO
  • It is free from synthetic colors or flavors

Cons

  • It is not a balanced chicken feed

Manna Pro Layer 16%

This feed has combined vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and 16% proteins in its feed. It is a complete chicken food and requires no supplementation.

Manna Pro Layer 16%

Manna Pro 16% Layers Crumble is developed for laying hens.

Ingredients

The crumble texture is ideal for fussy hens or chickens that do not eat whole layer pellets. 

The feed contains probiotics for normal gut function and a healthy crop.

The crumbles are easy to digest and offer 16% protein which is a must for healthy egg production, lean muscle, and beautiful feathers.

Nutrition

Manna Pro has combined vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and 16% proteins in its feed. It is a complete chicken food and requires no supplementation.

Provide your hens a daily portion of the Layer Pro and avoid the complications of an imbalanced layer feed such as soft-shelled eggs and poorly formed yolks.

Amount

While Manna Pro has included multiple nutrients, this feed is available only in smaller bags.

It would become costly to provide a large flock weekly Manna pro chicken feed.

It is also not an organic layer product and it contains GMOs. 

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Type: Crumble feed
  • Nutrition Content: 16% Proteins with vitamins and probiotics

Pros

  • It does not contain any artificial flavors or colors

Cons

  • It is not non-GMO and is not organic

Prairie’s Choice Non-GMO Layer Formula

This chicken food contains 16% proteins for laying hens, which helps with solid eggshells and faster egg production.

Prairie’s Choice Non-GMO Layer Formula

Prairie’s Choice non-GMO backyard feed delivers gluten-free chicken feed.

Gluten in wheat is actually good for layer pellets because it prevents the use of binders to produce a pellet formula.

Ingredients

This chicken food contains 16% proteins for laying hens, which helps with solid eggshells and faster egg production.

It is also locally packaged and does not require a calcium or vitamin supplement.

While there is much debate surrounding antibiotics in chicken food, if you want to raise your chicken flock naturally, non-medicated is the way to go.

Non-Medicated

Prairie s Choice is free from antibiotics, which prevents resistance against pathogens. 

Prairie s Choice has included soybean meal in its chicken feed.

Soy on its own is not a nutritionally valuable ingredient for hens; however, soybean meal is extracted from soy and serves as a good protein source.

You will find that Prairie s Choice contains the nutrients for hens but it is limited by artificial flavors, colors, and a non-organic formula.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Type: Chicken Crumble Feed
  • Nutrition Content: 16% proteins, vitamins, soybean meal

Pros

  • It is a balanced chicken feed with proteins for egg production
  • It is non-GMO

Cons

  • It has synthetic colors and flavors

Best Laying Feed for Hens

Kalmbach Feeds 17% Organic Layer Pellet

Its combination of probiotics, vitamins, and amino acids will help young hens grow into healthy adults.

Kalmbach Feeds 17% Organic Layer Pellet

Ingredients

The Kalmbach Layer Pellets is well known among chicken feed brands because it provides certified organic ingredients with a 17% proteins ratio.

It is a fairly good chicken food because of its nutrients and natural manufacture.

Its combination of probiotics, vitamins, and amino acids will help young hens grow into healthy adults.

Nutrition

The protein requirements of hens is met with a 17% ratio. Kalmbach Feeds the laying chicken has added dried egg yolk which is a natural source of proteins and a great addition to any layer hen’s diet.

Along with healthy eggs, your chickens will grow fuller feathers, strong bones, and muscle mass.

Owing to the unique combination of nutrients in this layer feed, it is suited to a mixed flock including geese and ducks.

Hemp Oil

An ingredient that has many chicken owners questioning its benefits is hemp oil. Hemp oil may be a surprising ingredient; however, Kalmbach Feeds All Natural Layer Pellets has recognized its incredible source of Omega fats for healthy feather formation and immune strength.

The only drawback of Kalmbach Feeds is its non-organic formula despite it containing natural ingredients.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Type: Chicken Pellet Feed
  • Nutrition Content: 17% proteins, hemp oil, and dried egg yolk

Pros

  • It contains a higher percent of proteins compared to traditional chicken feed
  • The pellet formula creates less waste

Cons

  • Not certified organic

Hen Up Organic Layer Mash

Consists of a certified organic diet, which is great for raising your chicks naturally.

Hen Up Organic Layer Mash

Nutrients

Hen Up Organic Food for Chickens is a relatively new non-gmo product.

It contains an interesting blend of vitamins with 16% proteins for hens.

The feed consists of a certified organic diet, which is great for raising your chicks naturally.

Hen Up Organic Laying Feed consists of fresh grains, including blueberries and cranberries for immune health.

Ingredients

This non gmo Hen Up Organic Layer consists of a soft mash of grains that young and mature chickens will find easy to consume and digest.

It is free of soy, further helping the hens digest the grains packed with nutrition.

Grains

What is unique about Hen Up’s Organic Layer feed is the selection of grains.

It contains wheat, barley, and oats that are natural sources of antioxidants and fiber.

The diverse blend of grains is fortified with cranberries and blueberries so that your chicken friends can grow strong immune systems and fluffy feathers.

Organic

Hen Up is one of the few chicken feed brands that is USDA-certified organic.

This means it is locally grown and packaged so your chickens can benefit from its wholesome nutrients.

It should come as no surprise that Hen Up Layer Feed is also non-GMO and provides a full diet for chickens.

Specs

  • Organic: Yes
  • Type: Mash Feed
  • Nutrition Content: High in proteins, vitamins, and fiber

Pros

  • It is certified USDA organic
  • It doesn’t contain soy
  • It is free from GMO ingredients

Cons

  • Excess dust caused by crushed grains

Nutrena Country Feeds Layer Feed 16% Pellets

If you need your chicks to gain weight, Nutrena Country Feeds Layers is the perfect addition. You do not have to supplement.

Nutrena Country Feeds Layer Feed 16% Pellets

Nutrena Country Feeds is a well-known range of laying pellets for chickens.

You can provide your flock a daily feed containing 16% proteins and vitamins for egg-producing hens. 

If you need your chicks to gain weight, Nutrena Country Feeds Layers is the perfect addition. You do not have to supplement. 

Nutrients

Older hens can easily eat Nutrena pellets, which reduces waste and ensures they receive all their daily nutrients.

Nutrena Country Feeds ensures the right balance of proteins, minerals, and vitamins to support strong eggshells, healthy egg production, and most importantly, a healthy chicken! 

No Corn and Soy

A positive feature in the Nutrena diet is the absence of soy and corn.

Corn and soy serve as fillers which provide very little to no nutrition for chickens.

A chicken that tends to gorge on corn frequently can suffer crop problems and poor egg production. 

This chicken food is packed with nutrients; however, it is not organic. It is also at the higher end of the price range compared to similar products.

Specs

  • Organic: No
  • Grain Type: Chicken Pellet Feed
  • Nutrition Content: 16% proteins, vitamins, and minerals

Pros

  • It provides a complete feed
  • It has no soy or corn

Cons

  • It is not organic

New Country Organic Layer Feed

If you’re looking for a balanced wholegrain product, New Country Organic Feed provides a nutritious blend. It is one of the only chicken feed brands that consists of 17% protein content.

New Country Organic Layer Feed

Ingredients

If you are looking for fresh grains to feed your hens, New Country Organic Layer Feed consists of a variety of wheat, barley, sunflower seeds, and oats.

The selection of the finest grains is based on the nutritional needs of egg producers. 

Sunflower seeds support healthy feathers while oats provide proteins and barley fiber. The grains are grown in North America and include local manufacturing.

It is also free from artificial ingredients.

Nutrition

For chicken keepers looking for a balanced wholegrain product, New Country Organic Feed provides a nutritious blend. It is one of the only chicken feed brands that consists of 17% protein content. 

You do not have to worry about supplementing New Country Layer Feed because it contains a high calcium ratio. Hens benefit from the inclusion of kelp.

Kelp

New Country has added kelp for its minerals and vitamins including vitamin A, B1, B6, E, and K.

It provides an incredible natural range of nutrients for strong eggs and chicken health. 

No Soy and Corn

New Country has gone one step further to produce a grain feed without soy and corn.

Both are considered fillers, and the soy especially could create digestive complications in chickens of all ages.

While New Country prides itself in a no soy and corn diet, it cannot guarantee that its feed will be corn-free. 

Specs

  • Organic: Yes
  • Grain Type: Wholegrain

Pros

  • Fresh variety of grains
  • No soy or corn

Cons

  • Cannot guarantee corn free.

Best All-Around Chicken Feed

Modesto Milling Organic, Non-GMO Layer Crumbles

The layer booster is one of the top chicken foods and consists of 17% proteins for chickens 18 weeks and older.

Modesto Milling Organic, Non-GMO Layer Crumbles

Modesto Milling provides a crumble formulation and feeds organic ingredients for backyard chickens.

The layer booster is one of the top chicken foods and consists of 17% proteins for chickens 18 weeks and older.

Modesto Layer Crumbles also contains vitamins and minerals for the health and longevity of chickens.

Nutrition

Modesto Milling is a corn-free product with calcium for layers.

This balanced chicken food does not contain corn or soy which maximizes its nutritional value.

Chickens will love Modesto’s crumbly consistency because it is easy to pick up and digest.

Natural Dewormer

An interesting and beneficial ingredient in the organic layer feed is diatomaceous earth. The powder acts as a natural chicken dewormer.

This reduces the need for harsh chemical dewormers.

If you wish to provide your chicken with extra calcium, add oyster shells for the best results.

NOTE

Remember, if you use a medicinal deworming product, you should not consume any eggs over the course of the medication.

Specs

  • Organic: Yes
  • Grain Type: Chicken Crumble Feed
  • Nutrition: 17% proteins, diatomaceous earth, no fillers

Pros

  • Does not contain ingredients for minimum nutrient needs
  • Organic ingredients
  • No soy or corn

Cons

  • None

Chicken Feed Guide

How to Choose the Best Chicken Feed

Hen and Chicks Outdoors
Hen and Chicks Outdoors

Choosing the right chicken feed comes down to nutrition.

The right diet leads to healthy growth and prevents diseases such as sour crop, respiratory illness, and obesity. Providing your feathered friends a balanced diet is good for their development and longevity. 

So what exactly is the best chicken feed?

Leading brands of chicken feed provide appropriate nutritional value depending on the age of your chicks.

A starter feed includes 18% proteins for strong muscles and helps small chicks gain weight. Layer feeds contain a 16% protein content for hens.

TIP

Make sure you look for omega 3 fatty acids for feather growth and oyster shells for extra calcium. 

Whether you should buy each product will depend on the life stage of your chickens. 

Fillers

Valuable chicken feed will not contain large amounts of corn because it is a filler ingredient. 

Look out for the corn ratio on the label before you make a decision! Another ingredient to avoid is soy.

In its whole form, it prevents the digestive tract of chickens from absorbing nutrients, which can stunt overall growth. 

Let’s take a closer look at the best chicken feed for each stage of your chickens’ lives…

Chicken Feed for Different Growth Stages

Chicken Feed on Hand
Chicken Feed on Hand

What is the Best Starter Feed for Young Chicks?

For newly-hatched chicks up until age 8 weeks, you’ll need a starter feed.

Starter or grower chicken feed has proteins and vitamins that small chicks need to grow strong bones, feathers, and muscle.

What is the Best Feed for Pullets?

Female chicks older than 8 weeks are called pullets.

They need a diet that prepares them for the cycle of egg-laying.

The best chicken feed will contain proteins and some added calcium from oyster shells to support growth and get the egg production going!

What is the Best Feed for Laying Hens?

The best feed for laying hens has proteins, calcium, vitamins, minerals, and high amounts of fiber.

Egg-laying chickens rely on calcium and proteins to form eggs, grow feathers, and maintain a healthy weight.

Corn-free diets are recommended to avoid filler ingredients.

NOTE

Along with knowing the right chicken food for different stages of growth, understanding the different types of chicken brands, important product terms, and healthy supplements can make all the difference for your feathered friends’ well-being.

What is Organic and GMO Chicken Feed?

Free Range Chickens
Free Range Chickens

Along with vitamins and minerals, you’ll need to understand what the terms “organic” and “GMO” mean. In organic feed, ingredients are naturally grown and sourced.

The fertilizer used to grow organic grains is free from chemicals.

Even the production process will not include chemicals!

This reduces the possibility of synthetic ingredients and chemical contamination, and is therefore a good bet for feeding your chickens with.

Bacterial Resistance

While GMO does not make a real difference to the nutritional needs of chickens, certain types of GMO backyard chicken feed products can cause bacterial resistance in your flock.

In summary, it is best to find chicken feed that is mostly organic and has non-GMO ingredients.

What are the Categories of Chicken Feeds?

Have you searched through products only to be confused by products such as scratch for chickens, pellets for laying hens, or the mention of grit?

Don’t worry! I’ll break down the different categories of chicken food, and tell you which products are must-haves for your flock.

The Difference Between Broiler and Layer feed

Brown Hen Brooding on Eggs
Brown Hen Brooding on Eggs

Layer Feed

Layer feeds are specifically formulated for hens laying eggs. It has a specific proteins and calcium ratio that hens need to form hard eggshells.

Without the right balance of nutrition, your hens may lay soft-shell eggs, or even eggs without shells.

This also increases the risk of becoming egg-bound.

Broiler Feed

A broiler feed is for chickens going for slaughter.

It has a high protein and fat ratio to help increase the weight of young chickens.

This category of chicken food is provided to non-laying poultry.

Mash, Crumbles, and Pellets

As if chicken feed weren’t already confusing, now you have to choose between mash, crumbles, or pellets!

Crumbles

Young Chicks Feeding
Young Chicks Feeding

Crumble chicken feed consists of a loose feed that is firmer than mash, but not as compact as pellets.

It is perfect for younger birds because their small beaks can easily pick up the crumbly bits. Older hens love it too!

Mash

A mash is a finely ground chicken feed which is best for chicks younger than 10 weeks of age. Many laying hen products include a mash formula, but it may leave you with a lot of waste when fed to older, larger birds.

Pellets

Pellets are first made from a mash, and then compressed into pellet form.

It is easy to feed and it greatly reduces waste.

But, don’t feed pellets to chicks younger than 10 weeks. It will be difficult for them to eat and may cause crop impaction.

What About Scratch, Grit, and Oyster Shell?

Poultry Feed
Poultry Feed

Scratch consists of different seeds that chickens can sort through in the dirt. Using their feet, they scratch around and pick out their preferred seeds.

It should never be fed as a complete diet because it lacks the daily protein content, calcium, vitamin and mineral content that chickens need to thrive.

It is more of a treat, with the added benefits of sunflower seeds for healthy feathers and oats for extra fiber and protein. Keep your chickens busy with a moderate use of scratch.

If we look at grit, it includes small stones that are important for chickens’ digestion.

Chickens need small stones to help their gizzards grind food and digest it. If your chickens are not free-range, a grit supplement added to their daily feed is a must. 

You can also purchase grit in the form of oyster shell.

The shell grit is a perfect source of calcium, especially for hens in lay!

Why is Fermented Food Good for Chickens?

Fermented food is packed with good bacteria and vitamins.

It will improve eggs’ weight and strengthen shells.

It also contains good bacteria and extra protein for overall weight gain and digestion!

What is Fermentation?

Fermentation is the process of converting solid food to liquid form, wherein healthy bacteria is formed.

Fermentation releases probiotics which are great for gut health. It also improves vitamin K, B, and C levels and is a great addition to your chickens’ daily feed. 

How and Why to Feed your Chickens Fermented Feed

What You Should Consider When Buying the Best Laying Feed for Hens

The feed has the right nutrients, minimum 16% protein, and a good calcium ratio that your chickens need to produce strong, large eggs.

Always look at the ingredients and the nutritional analysis on the pack to ensure your flock is getting the best nutrients.

Another factor to consider is cost.

The cost should be justified by value. Questions you should ask include:

  • How long will the feed last? 
  • What are the right nutrients for my bird’s life stage?
  • What is the cost-to-weight ratio per feed bag?

Cheaper foods will have a lot of processed and filler ingredients such as corn compared to natural grain and organic ingredients.

Consider corn-free food. Remember, from 18 to 20 weeks of age you can start laying food. 

Grit Supplement

Make sure you feed your chickens a grit supplement.

There are many different types of grit supplements including a calcium-grit source. Grit is one of the best supplements for a healthy crop. 

Invest on Nutrition

Investing in a good-quality diet for poultry is sure to help you raise healthy and happy chickens.

While chickens love table scraps, keep those to a minimum to prevent crop and nutrition problems.

Feed chickens once to twice daily, and always provide access to fresh water.

Conclusion

Our top picks include Kalmbach All Natural Layer Pellets, Modesto Milling Layer Feed, and Scratch and Peck Organic Layer Feed.

These brands offer hens an enriched diet, which supports healthy growth and uninterrupted egg cycles.

When I first started my research into the best diet for hens, I believed that finding the best fresh grain was the only suitable feed for my flock.

While fresh grains can provide an incredible diet, especially for an organic chicken flock, the product you choose must be balanced with the right amount of proteins, calcium, and vitamins.

This can prevent soft-shelled eggs, poor egg production, and the possibility of egg-bound hens.

Healthy Eggs

If your egg-producing hens are producing soft-shelled or poorly-formed eggs, consider a layer booster with Omega-3s, which contain extra calcium. 

If your current chicken feed is insufficient for your egg-laying hens, adding a supplement such as oyster shell or grit containing calcium will do wonders to sustain healthy birds and incredibly nutritious eggs.

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on print

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Jess Woods
Jess Woods
Founder of Chickens & You. I love raising chickens and creating a self sustainable homestead for my family. I like to spend my time writing and teaching skills for homesteading and self sufficient living. 🐓 👩‍🌾