New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed {Non-GMO}



Each morning I head out to the chicken coop as my five girls wait in anticipation for breakfast. They know what’s coming–the new stuff! By the time I’m outside their large 8-foot-by-12-foot coop, they are excited to see me scooping just the right amount of protein-packed, non-GMO feed for each of them. I head inside the coop, poor the day’s sustenance into the metal hanging dispenser, and it’s a feeding frenzy!

New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed - Stone Family FarmsteadA few weeks ago, I began studying up on how to formulate chicken feed for my girls. I created a barebones framework for my feed, which I shared here with you early this month, but I wasn’t satisfied with just using grain in it. While I was able to achieve the right level of protein for my laying hens, I wanted it to be a vitamin-packed, nutrient-packed, wellness-packed feed. I also wanted this feed to yield the same egg production as the laying mash that I had been using in previous years.

Egg Production

Interestingly, the first batch didn’t yield significant drop in egg production during the switch. The most significant drop happened in the first week, and the total drop for the full month was only 11%. I expected the damage to be worse, this being my first time mixing chicken feed. In April, they laid 66 eggs between the 5 of them, and in May–where the switch took place between the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th weeks–they laid 59, leaving only a difference of 7 eggs from April to May. I’m interested to see what June will bring, now that I’ve added more nutrition to the mix. (NEW! Watch our monthly egg laying progress in our sidebar~~~~>)

Egg Production - Stone Family Farmstead

The Ingredients

Chickens need fresh, clean water, and a mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins (just like us!) I hand-picked every ingredient based on what it would add to the feed, what it would do for the eggs they lay, and whether or not I could get a non-GMO version of it a my local Winco. In addition to wanting my chickens to be healthy and well-fed, I also wanted the eggs that they lay for us to be healthy and nutritious, and I wanted this new chicken-feed-mixing habit to be sustainable (read: I wanted it to be able to fit easily into my already busy schedule so I wouldn’t fizzle out on the idea and go back to GMO laying mash).

Non-GMO Ingredients in Our Layer Feed Mix - Stone Family Farmstead

Bella, inspecting the ingredients.

I was able to acquire all of the grains and the garlic powder at Winco, and I ordered the kelp and diatomaceous earth from Amazon.com. I picked up the black oil sunflower seeds at the local feed store. All of the ingredients I use in this recipe have been run through the GMO Compass Website for verification that none of them are genetically modified.

Pearl Barley – High in fiber, but low in energy and difficult for chickens to digest. Should be no more than 20% of a chicken’s diet.

Hard Red Wheat – High in protein, good for energy

Millet – This tiny grain is rich in iron and amino acids

Oats – High protein, adds calcium, fiber, and B vitamins to the feed; good energy source

Split Peas – Very high in protein

Kelp – Adds omega-3s to the hen’s diet, making egg yolks that wonderful, deep orange color

Garlic Powder – Thought of as one of nature’s best antibiotics, garlic brings power to the immune system of your chicken

Diatomaceous Earth – Keeps bugs out of the feed, is thought of as a natural wormer by some

New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed

New and Improved Homemade Whole Grain Layer Feed

Ingredients

  • 19 cups split peas
  • 14 cups hard red wheat
  • 12 cups barley
  • 10 cups millet
  • 8 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup kelp
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup food grade diatomaceous earth

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large tub. Cover and store. Feed 1/4lb (about 1/2 cup) per hen each day.
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http://stonefamilyfarmstead.com/new-and-improved-homemade-whole-grain-layer-feed/

Feed Stats

This recipe makes just over 28lbs of feed and it cost me roughly $22.50 to make it. Serving size for each chicken is 1/4 lb., which makes this recipe enough for 112 servings, almost 3 weeks’ worth for my 5 girls. The non-GMO feed that I was using before was averaging me $1/lb, and this new feed costs me .80, which is a pretty good savings at 20%, plus I get to know what’s in the feed, which is important to me.

The protein percentage in this mix is 17.5% which is just about where it needs to be according to my research. Laying hens are supposed to have between 15-18%, which makes this feed just right. There could be issue with the amount of crude fat in this recipe. It is 2.1% in my recipe, and on the bag of non-GMO feed that I was using as a guideline, the minimum amount of crude fat was 2.7%. I would like the crude fat level to be higher, because some of the vitamins in a chicken’s diet are fat soluble, and, according to this UGE extension article, fats are the highest energy source in feed. It doesn’t sound like an ingredient I want to skimp on, so I’ll be looking for some way to up the fats a bit in future feed batches. For now, I will make sure to supplement their diet with something like this Homemade Suet block by Fresh Eggs Daily every now and again, as well as other occasional fatty treats until I can get this part figured out.

Non-GMO Whole Grain Layer Feed

Bella: “Yep, it’s good.”

Sources and Other Helpful Reading:
Feeding Chickens by the Cooperative Extension of California
Feeding Barley to Poultry by Extension.org
Poultry Rations and Feeding Methods – Manitoba Food, Agriculture, and Rural Development
What to Feed Chickens: How to Formulate Your Own Chicken Feed – Mother Earth News
Garden Betty’s Post on Homemade Whole Grain Chicken Feed (see bottom of her post for a very handy feed calculator)

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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! 🙂
Kristi Stone

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Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this! I have been looking into making my own feed again. I found a non soy, non corn, and organic feed on Azure for $29.95 for 40lbs, so been buying that for now which makes it easier on this mama, but, I do like to have some grains and things on hand for my flock to put up for emergencies if I can’t buy the feed I normally do.

    Love the new site and am enjoying reading it when I get a chance to!

    • Thanks Amber! That’s a pretty good price–cheaper than my mixed feed! Azure is so good for stuff like that, and for bulk grains. Great idea!

      Glad you are reading, that makes me feel like I’m not talking to myself! 🙂

      • Yes, I read, but rarely comment :-/ I should though, because I know it’s appreciated. 🙂

        • Yes it is! 🙂

          • So I just decided to add cayenne pepper to my girls feed. We have been having a major problem with squirrels and I hear they are not fans of it! Hopefully they will leave the feed alone now and we’ll start getting eggs again! We’ve only been getting 1-2 a day from 11 hens…so there is definitely something wrong out there.

  2. Thanks for this recipe. I will have to try it out. Not sure if I will be able to get all those ingredients at a reasonable price though. Good luck with the egg production. It has been cold here so mine are hardly laying.

    • Hi Jayne! You can sub out some of the grain for other grains of the same protein level. The DE can be left out if you want to, and the kelp, while expensive (I got it on Amazon), you don’t use too much of it. If you click on Garden Betty blog post at the bottom of my post, she has a feed calculator you can look at that includes protein and crude fat levels for many different ingredients. You may be able to find other just-as-good ingredients for your mix. 🙂

  3. This was really helpful to me, as we have just recently got our first batch of chickens, but the only feed I have found locally has GMOs in it. Thank you for sharing your recipe 🙂

    • You are so welcome, Gwen! I know the feeling—it seems so difficult to find untainted food for any of us (human or animal) anymore. Glad you could use the recipe! 🙂

  4. Thanks for saving me hours of work researching this. I like the recipe and will start using it, I also wrote a post about it and linked your site to it. You can see it here http://trashtossinghomesteaders.blogspot.com/2015/08/new-non-gmo-chicken-feed-recipe.html

  5. Michelle Chapman says:

    Hi Kristi, I ran across your blog and this post today via a Pinterest “pin.” We have had chickens for 4 years now, and I have always toyed with the idea of mixing grains for our ladies. My concern is that they will pick out the grains they like the best, and leave the others, thereby not getting all the nutrition they need. Has this been your experience with your girls?

    Thanks,

    Michelle

    • Yes, Michelle, that is an issue. My girls picked out the split peas and left them, and unfortunately, they were the ones with the most protein! You may have to fiddle with the recipe, perhaps if they don’t like the peas, then next time you mix, mix with something comparable in protein levels to the peas, and the like. Hope that helps!

  6. Marissa says:

    Hi Kristi,
    I just came across your post! I love the recipe and will definitely have to try it out! I found all the ingredients for about $0.56/lb. Thank you for the recipe!

  7. What kind of kelp did you buy? Was it ground or a powder? Also, I don’t show your recipe calls for the black sunflower seeds but you mentioned them in your post. How much did you put in each batch?

    • Hey Melissa–I bought this kelp on amazon.com. It is granules, but they also have this. (affiliate links, just fyi) I honestly can’t remember how much I put in each batch of the black oil sunflower seeds, but if you calculate it up, IIRC, you can up the protein level easily by not adding all too much. I’ll have to try it again (I haven’t mixed my grains in quite a while).

  8. Did you find a way to increase dietary fats for chickens?

  9. can i change the split peas to whole peas? and also instead of oats could i change them to oat groats?
    thank you!

  10. Am very happy 2 read this post, but some of these recipe are not in my country(Nigeria) i can only get maize, what about d rest of them?what could b done about dem?

  11. Hi admin i see you don’t earn on your website. You can earn extra bucks easily, search on youtube for: how to
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