Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed

Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed

This recipe has been updated. See my New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed recipe.

I’ve had my girls, Lucy and Ethel, since 2012. I was so ecstatic to get them and, if I say so myself, we’ve made each other very happy for the past three years. They have, believe it or not, done a lot for me and my homestead, especially before we moved. Of course, they have laid hundreds of eggs for me (red sexlinks lay large brown eggs for about 2/3 of the year), but they have also turned my compost, taken care of pests in my garden, and provided me with one of the best manures a gardener could ask for.

Because they have been such faithful farm helpers, and because they provide some of the eggs for our farm and family (we do have 3 other inherited chickens who also lay), I find myself wanting to make sure that they get nourished well–meaning, I would like them to be able to eat organic and non-GMO, as well as get the proper amount of protein. I would also like for them to be grass-fed, but during this season all the forage is dying off…not to mention that because we are new around here, we are not sure of who their predators might be, so they are pretty much stuck in the coop until we can build them a proper run. Because organic and grass-fed is harder to do than non-GMO at this point, I’m starting with eliminating corn and soy from their diet. (I am also starting to sprout organic hard red wheat for them, but that’s another post.)

Honestly, formulating my own feed for them wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I read some articles on what chickens need and how to formulate feed, as well as blog posts on how other farm bloggers were doing theirs. I copied copious notes into a spreadsheet where I was able to keep track of which of my animals could eat each type of grain, what the grain would do for them, what the percentage of protein was, and other such information that would eventually help me to be able to mix a 16% whole grain feed for my laying hens. I also looked up every grain that I was able to obtain in my area on GMO Compass to make sure that none of them were GMO. Here is the recipe I have come up with so far.

Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed

Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed


  • 10 cups pearl barley - good for energy
  • 5 cups hard red wheat - good for energy
  • 5 cups hulled millet - rich in amino acids
  • 4 cups oat groats - B vitamins, calcium, fiber, energy
  • 5 cups split peas - high protein


  1. Mix all of these grains together, and switch your hens to it over 3 weeks. This recipe makes 13.84 lbs, 16% protein.
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The total cost for the full recipe (in my area–I got my grains at Winco) is $8.31, or .60/lb. The cost of serving per chicken per day is .15 (1/4lb) x 5 chickens = .75/day to feed the girls. The non-organic non-GMO feed that I am switching them from costs .25/chicken per day. My savings is .10/hen or .50/day total.

Granted, there are more ingredients involved in the commercial non-GMO feed, which I’m planning to add to my next batch (they are still getting those ingredients while they are switching over the next few weeks). The ingredients I’ll add are food grade diatomaceous earth (1/4 cup), garlic powder (1/4 cup), and kelp (1/4 cup). The amounts that I will add will not raise the price of the feed by much, though I haven’t yet figured them into the end total. The diatomaceous earth is awesome for keeping bugs out of the feed, but it is also said to help keep worms at bay. The garlic powder is a natural wormer (it is toxic to parasites) and is an immune booster. The kelp contains plenty of needed vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and salt in the right amounts for a chicken’s diet. It also promotes laying, and is responsible for that nice, dark yolk which indicates a nutritious egg.

Another issue to address is that it’s sort of hard to nail down the exact percentage of protein that each grain really is, so there is definitely some digging to do. In this Mother Earth News Article, the author explains that we should count ALL grains as only 10% protein. I didn’t do that, I got my percentage range from different articles on the internet and chose the low end of each one for good measure. As I mentioned in another post, I will also be supplementing this homemade feed with homemade milk kefir, as well as sprouted wheat seed (sprouting ups the nutrient content–including the protein–in wheat according to this article). I’ll know if adjustments need to be made in an upward direction (protein-wise) if laying drops off, I think. I’ll be watching!

This recipe has been updated. See my New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed recipe.

Do you mix your own chicken feed?

Read more on Feeding Whole Grains to Chickens (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association)

Shared at Simple Life Sunday, The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Homesteading Blog Hop, The HomeAcre Hop, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, Simple Saturdays Blog Link Party, From the Farm, Homestead Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday

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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! šŸ™‚
Kristi Stone

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  1. I haven’t made my own feed yet, but am seriously considering it! We have a Winco in our area, and I think I am going to try your recipe with our hens, and see how they like it, of course being careful to slowly add it into their diet. Enjoyed reading your great article!

    • Hi and thanks, MM! It was really hard for me to get into the mindset of making my own feed, but I’m so glad I did the research, it sure made it less overwhelming. I’m definitely still tweaking this recipe, so stay tuned!

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