How to make duck & chicken feed at home: Simple poultry feed formulation [3 methods]

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Whether you are looking to cut down on feed expenses, give your chickens more of what they need, or looking into sustainable practices for prepping, making your own chicken feed can be a smart practice to posses.

Chicken feed accounts for more than 75% of the cost of poultry production. Right now, the increasing cost of feeds is driving many poultry farmers out of business. Making your own feeds would cut down costs while increasing the profit margin of your poultry farming.

Homestead farmers and backyard chicken farmers who aspire to greater self-sufficiency often want to grow or at least mix their own chicken feed.

If you can grow everything your chickens eat, you don't have to purchase feed at all. And, if you mix feed from bulk ingredients, it will be much cheaper than buying commercial chicken feed.

Whether you grow some, all or none of it, the key questions are: What plants should you feed chickens, and in what proportions should it be mixed? This tutorial will answer all these questions.

Buying good chicken feed at the store is so expensive it’s almost physically painful. Feeding your backyard chickens is always the main cost of raising chickens, and so finding ways of cutting your chicken feed bill is every homestead chicken farmer's priority.

Success in the poultry farming business mostly depends on feeding quality feed and feed formulation system. For proper growth, egg production and good health, poultry birds require energy. In order to obtain the desired growth rate, you must have to purchase and provide highly nutritious poultry feed.

In this ultimate guide to making your own chicken feed, you will learn everything you need to know about your chickens’ nutritional requirements and how you can meet them without purchasing commercial feed or supplements.

I should, however, highlight that broiler chickens are not the best chickens to feed a homemade chicken feed. This is because of their high-protein dietary needs, so while it's possible, its best to avoid formulating your own chicken feed at home for broiler chickens. Nonetheless, in this tutorial I will provide a cheaper and yet still reliable alternative way of making your own home mixed broiler chicken feed.

Layers, on the other hand, still have protein needs, but they are not as dependent on it as the commercially bred broiler chicken. So, make it easier on both you and your chickens and stick with breeds that are still considered to be quite hardy, and not overbred. I have previously published a video that explains the characteristics of 20 best chicken breeds for beginners, you may need to consider watching the video and learn which breeds are excellent for backyard chicken farming.

This guide is mainly for feeding adult chickens, however, much of the feed here is going to provide young chicks with the nutrition they need. With that being said, you can always add more protein to a developing chick’s diet to help them grow up healthy and strong.

Without wasting much time, let's look at how you can make your own chicken feed at home.

Your chickens will appreciate if you can grind your ingredients down a bit, especially if they are still young and find it hard to consume whole grains. They like to eat crumble, after all, so take some time to grind the feed. Grinding will also prevent picky eaters from sorting through the ingredients and picking only the “good stuff” and throwing the rest into their water fonts. But, if you cant grind the grains, you can simply ferment the feed for 3 days. In fact I recommend that you ferment all your chicken feed for 3 days, as fermenting chicken feed, whether commercial feed of home made, has so many advantages. I have also published a video that explains why you should ferment chicken feed and how you do it. Click on this link to watch that video.

So, what are the actual food items that you should mix into your feed to meet your chickens’ nutritional requirements?

FIRST OPTION (WHOLE GRAIN MEAL)

– 20kg Maize (or corn).
– 12kg Sunflower seeds (or sunflower cake).
– 13kg Pearl Millet or wheat.
– 5kg Soya beans (or soybean).
– 200g Salt.

Mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Stir the feed with a shovel until all the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the container.

Pearl millet is the most widely grown type of millet. If you cant get millet, then use whole wheat, the crude protein content and other nutrients are almost the same.

Wheat may improve digestion and help prevent coccidiosis. Wheat also provides chickens with carbohydrates and protein.

Corn or maize is great, in moderation though. It’s affordable, and can be found anywhere. Chickens love maize and it gives them the carbohydrates (and fats) they need.

Salt provides a great source of minerals and sodium chloride, and chickens do need salt in their diet, however, it should never exceed 0.5% of their diet.

SECOND OPTION (PREMIX MEAL)

The second option, which is what I personally prefer and use on all my chickens and ducks, is ideal for nearly all types of chickens, whether you are raising free range chickens, layer chickens or broiler chickens, is to simply buy concentrate feed then mix it with cracked corn (or maize bran) using a ratio specified by the concentrate feed manufacturer. In my country of residence, the mixing ratio is usually 2:3, meaning on every 2 portions of concentrate feed, you add 3 portions of cracked corn or maize bran. If you are working on a tight budget you can slightly ignore the recommended mixing ratio as long as you are NOT preparing broiler chicken feed or layer chickens, i mean those ones specifically raised for laying eggs only. Free range chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowls and turkeys are not too strict with crude protein content like broiler chickens or calcium content like layer chickens. So if you have a shoestring budget you can mix the premix with cracked corn or maize bran or wheat bran using a 1:2 ratio (that is 2:4) instead of 2:3 or anything that your premix manufacturer recommends. Simply add one unit extra, in favour of cracked corn or maize bran or wheat bran.

Mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Stir the feed with a shovel until all the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the container. This ensures that the chickens will receive the nutrients from the different ingredients when they are fed. Make sure that you mix the ingredients that are in the bottom of the container.

THIRD OPTION (HOME MADE CHICKEN MASH)

The third option is NOT suitable for broiler chickens or layer chickens. It is specifically for free-range chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and guinea fowls. However, it is the cheapest method for providing quality feed for your birds. Approach milling companies near you where production of flour and mealie meal are produced. Some of those milling companies sell maize bran and wheat bran or even wheat screenings. You can simply mix these three ingredients using the ration 3:2:1):
1 – maize bran (three parts).
2 – wheat screenings (two parts).
3 – ground pearl millet or sunflower cake or soya bean cake or fishmeal (one part).

Mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Stir the feed with a shovel until all the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the container.

Give each chicken 0.28 pounds (0.13 kg) of feed per day. Multiply the feed needed per chicken by the number of chickens that you have. For example, 6 chickens x 0.28 pounds (0.13 kg) = 1.68 pounds (0.76 kg) of feed in total.

Never use rotten ingredients to make feed. Rotten materials might contain mycotoxins which are harmful to poultry health.

Store the chicken feed in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Garages or barns are ideal places to store chicken feed. Check the feed for mice, bugs, and mould before you give it to the chickens.

For an added bonus with your feed, ferment your chicken feed for 3 days (72 hours) before offering it to your flock. You’ll use less feed and your chickens will digest it so much more efficiently!

Small scale farmers in cooperatives or in same location can contribute money together to buy feed ingredients in large quantities. This is because when you buy ingredients like maize in large quantity cost price reduces. Also consider visiting your nearest rural areas and buy maize bran at the millers based in rural areas. It is much cheaper to buy maize bran there than in urban areas. If you cannot visit rural area millers, then consider visiting your nearest commercial milling companies who supply your local big supermarkets with flour and maize meal, then buy wheat screenings or maize bran at their factories. To them wheat screenings or maize bran are by products, and so are often much cheaper. This usually varies from one country to another.