Organic DIY Chicken Feed Is "Cheep" To Make Yourself

By: Marye Audet, Planet Green  | 
Mixed chicken feed in a white bucket with a silver serving spoon sitting in it.
DIY chicken feed can help keep your flock of backyard chickens healthy and happy. Erika Norris / Shutterstock

A benefit of raising your own chickens is having inexpensive, organic eggs and meat. The problem is that in many areas it's nearly impossible to get organic commercial feed and even if you can it is expensive. This is where DIY chicken feed enters the scene as a method of controlling your chicken's diet and ensuring the ingredients are all organic.

While you can order organic chicken food online, or have your feed store special order it, it's inconvenient and sometimes quite pricey. Your final cost is still less than buying commercially raised poultry products (and more humane!), but homesteaders generally have to constantly look for ways to save money.


What To Know About Homemade Organic Chicken Feed

If your backyard chickens free range or are on pasture, they eat a lot of forage. From mice to bugs and grass to your prize tomatoes, chickens will peck at anything. Add in your food scraps and your chickens are probably getting a pretty balanced diet. You won't need to worry too much about the proper balance of ingredients because the feed will be a supplement to their diet rather than a primary component of it.

Obviously if you are going to make your own homemade organic chicken feed you will want to use all organic ingredients. Beware of soy and fish meal, however. Soy has a high concentration of phyto-estrogen and this is of concern to some people. Fish meal can have a high level of mercury and that is something you want to watch as well. There are so many good ingredients that can be added to your own feed there is no reason to buy questionable things.


You should be able to find all of the following ingredients in an organic variety. Most, like lentils, quinoa and barley, are sold at grocery and health food stores and are available in bulk. You may need to run by your local feed store for a few ingredients, particularly the oyster shells. Any ingredients that are hard to find in your area can be ordered online.

A Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe

There are a number of homemade chicken feed recipes floating around online, but this is one of our favorites, shared by Backyard Chicken Coops. This DIY chicken feed recipe is suitable for both laying hens to support egg production, and meat birds.

- 2 parts whole corn


- 3 parts soft white wheat

- 3 parts hard red winter wheat

- ½ part Diatomaceous Earth (not the kind you put in your pool)

- 1 part hulled barley

- 1 part oat groats

- 2 part black oil sunflower seeds

- ½ part peanuts

- 1 part wheat bran

- 1 part split peas

- 1 part lentils

- 1 part quinoa

- 1 part sesame seeds

- 1/2 part kelp

Mix the feed by hand so that it is thoroughly combined. And there you have it - your own homemade chicken feed!

Be sure to also keep grit and oyster shell calcium in containers so the chickens can eat it as they need to. A good place for additional information is the forum at Backyard Chickens.


How To Keep Chicken Feed Fresh

When you make homemade, organic chicken feed you have the opportunity to completely control everything that goes into it. The tendency is to feel like you should make huge amounts to save time. Don't do it. Another benefit of homemade feed is that it is often more fresh that the commercial feeds, retaining much of the nutrients.

When you're mixing homemade chicken feed yourself, the tendency is to feel like you should make a huge amount at a time to save time. Don't do it. Feed can go rancid, potentially making your flock sick or at the very least, requiring that you throw out all that lovingly made poultry feed.


Another major benefit of homemade feed is that it is often more fresh that the commercial feeds, retaining much of the nutritional value, vitamins and minerals. Don't negate that benefit by trying to make a huge batch that will sit for too long.

Store your fresh feed in a covered container in a cool, dry location where pests can't get into it. Metal and plastic are both suitable materials, but be careful with any container that will trap humidity in with the feed. This can breed a dangerous fungus that creates mycotoxins, which can poison your flock.


Organic DIY Chicken Feed FAQ

Is it cheaper to make your own chicken feed?
Homemade chicken feed not only improves the health of your flock, but is usually slightly cheaper than buying pre-made feed. This option is particularly cost-effective if you are able to find grains and seeds in bulk from local grocery and bulk food stores.
Is organic chicken feed worth it?
When you make homemade organic chicken feed, you have complete control over everything that your chickens consume, improving the health of your birds and resulting in organic eggs and chickens (if you choose to butcher them). Another advantage of making organic feed at home is that it is often fresher and more nutritious than commercial feeds.
What is the healthiest chicken feed?
The healthiest chicken feed is one that uses all organic ingredients and does not contain soy or fish meal as soy has a high concentration of phytoestrogen and fish meal has a high level of mercury. Chickens should also eat vegetable scraps, growing grasses, bugs and grit to be healthy.
How do you feed chickens organically?
To be fully organic, you need to make or buy organic chicken feed. This often includes whole corn, soft white wheat, hard red winter wheat, Diatomaceous Earth, hulled barley, oat groats, sunflower seeds, peanuts, wheat bran, split peas, lentils, quinoa, sesame seeds and kelp. You also should ensure that any vegetables, scraps and grasses they eat are organic and unsprayed.