Best Chicken Feed: For Eggs, Meat, Chicks, and More

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Choosing the right chicken feed is key to a healthy, happy flock. Whether you’re raising egg layers, meat birds, or just starting with baby chicks, getting their diet right matters. A lot. 

In this guide, I’ll show you the best chicken feeds for every stage and purpose. From protein-rich starters for your peeping chicks to nutrient-packed options for your egg-layers and meat producers.

Types of Chicken Feed

Before we get into the specific brands, let’s talk about the types of chicken feed so you can properly guide your search. 

There are several types of chicken feed, each tailored for different stages of a chicken’s life and dietary needs:

  • Starter feed. High in protein, it’s for chicks up to about 6 weeks old. Helps with rapid growth and development.
  • Grower feed. For chickens from 6 weeks to about 20 weeks old. Lower in protein than starter feed, it supports continued growth without excess calories.
  • Layer feed. Begins at about 20 weeks. It’s formulated for laying hens, with added calcium for strong eggshells.
  • Broiler feed. High in protein and energy, it’s for chickens raised for meat. It supports fast growth and muscle development.
  • Finisher feed. Given to broilers in the final weeks before slaughter. It’s designed to maximize weight gain and meat quality.
  • Breeder feed. For breeding birds. It has a careful balance of nutrients to support egg production and hatchability.
  • Medicated feed. Contains medication for preventing or treating specific diseases. Use only as directed.
  • Scratch grains. A mix of grains, it’s more of a treat than a complete feed. It should be given in moderation.
  • Fermented feed. Regular feed that’s fermented to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.

Each type of feed is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of chickens at different stages of their life or for specific purposes like egg laying or meat production.

Top Chicken Feeds at a Glance

I’ve tried a TON of chicken feeds over the years. Most will “do the trick,” but if you’re looking for the best, you’re going to want to consider these brands (and there are comprehensive reviews of each below this table):

Product NameBest ForKey FeaturesProsConsPrice
Manna Pro All Flock CrumblesAll Around16% protein, probiotics, no artificial colors/flavorsHigh protein, probiotics, mixed flock, no artificial additivesFinely milled, can clog feeders, inconsistent sizeCheck Price
Scratch and Peck Feeds Organic Layer CrumblesLaying HensOrganic, non-GMO, 16% protein, high in calciumOrganic, non-GMO, high protein/calcium, eggshell/feather qualityMore expensive, dusty, not all chickens like itCheck Price
Kalmbach Feeds Start to Finish Meatbird CrumblesMeat Chickens22% protein, non-GMO, all-natural, supports digestive/immune healthHigh protein, non-GMO, digestive/immune support, large bagPackaging issues, not favored by all chickensCheck Price
Mile Four Organic Chicken FeedOrganic Feed100% organic, non-GMO, no corn/soy/medication, 16% proteinOrganic, non-GMO, improves egg quality, supports healthExpensive, powdery, appearance may varyCheck Price
Kalmbach Feeds Start Right Chick Feed CrumblesChicks (Starter Feed)18% protein, all-in-one feed, supports digestive/immune healthHigh protein, all-in-one, supports health, convenient for chicksHigh return costs, may not suit all budgetsCheck Price

Reviews: Chicken Feeds for Every Need

If you’re looking for more detail on any of the top chicken feeds in the table above, you’ll find what you’re looking for below: 

Best All-Around Chicken Feed: Manna Pro All Flock Crumbles

Manna Pro All Flock Crumbles | 16% Protein…
  • MIXED FLOCKS: This complete feed is formulated to suit a variety of poultry including chickens,…
  • PROBIOTICS: This feed is crafted with probiotics for gut health and digestion.
  • CRUMBLES: Our crumble form makes feeding easy for any size bird.

Manna Pro All Flock Crumbles stand out as an all-in-one solution for your mixed flock. It’s a complete feed, perfect for chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and gamebirds. 

With a 16% protein level, it supports various stages of growth and production needs. What really makes it shine — to me, at least — is the inclusion of probiotics, boosting digestion and overall bird health.

The crumbled form is a big plus, making it easy for birds of all sizes to eat. You pay a little more for the crumbles, but in my experience, it’s usually worth it unless you’re on a tight budget.

This feed is crafted without artificial colors or flavors, aligning with a natural approach to poultry care. Manna Pro’s commitment to high-quality ingredients is no joke, by the way, and you’ll see it with this feed. It’s a feed that your flock won’t just eat; they’ll love it.

It’s not perfect, though. Consistency in the crumble size can be an issue. Sometimes, it arrives too finely milled, leading to a powdery residue that can clog feeders. This inconsistency might be a hassle, especially for larger flocks. 

But you’ll likely find the overall quality and bird response to the feed worth the extra effort of sifting out the finer particles.

Despite the potential for a powdery consistency, Manna Pro All Flock Crumbles remains a reliable choice. It’s especially ideal for smaller flocks or mixed bird types. And the 25-pound package is a good size to keep the food fresh when you’re feeding a smaller backyard flock.

Pros:

  • High 16% protein level
  • Includes probiotics for digestion
  • Suitable for a mixed flock
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Easy to feed crumble form

Cons:

  • Sometimes too finely milled
  • Can clog feeders
  • Inconsistent crumble size

Check Price

Best Chicken Feed for Laying Hens: Scratch and Peck Feeds Organic Layer Crumbles

Scratch and Peck Feeds Organic Layer Crumbles -…
  • Nourish to Flourish – Our complete crumble feed for laying hens 20+ weeks and laying ducks 20+ weeks…
  • Health and Longevity – Optimum levels of calcium (3.75%), protein (16%), and essential amino acids…
  • Going Beyond Organic – Our USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Certifications ensure your flock…

If you’re like me, the main benefit of keeping chickens in your backyard is the eggs. Which means you’ll need a chicken feed that’s tailored for laying hens. For that, Scratch and Peck Feeds Organic Layer Crumbles are a top choice. 

This 25-pound, soy-free, corn-free feed is ideal for anyone looking to provide their hens with organic, high-protein nutrition. And the inclusion of sustainable grub protein not only supports your flock’s health but also contributes positively to the environment. (I realize that isn’t a big deal for everyone, but it matters to many chicken keepers.)

The feed’s high calcium content (3.75%) and optimal protein level (16%) are perfect for strong eggshells and steady egg production. Its USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project certifications assure you of the highest quality standards, but you won’t have to wonder when you see the bag. 

Honestly, this one is a mega hit with the chickens, and I’m not the only chicken keeper to have noticed improved feather quality and egg production.

However, some users (not me specifically) have found the feed to be a bit dusty, which might be a concern for some. And while the quality is high, it does come at a slightly higher cost than other feeds. 

Also, a few users have noted that their chickens were hesitant to eat this feed, which could be an issue for pickier flocks. This was not an issue for me, though.

Despite these minor drawbacks, Scratch and Peck Feeds Organic Layer Crumbles stand out for their organic, nutrient-rich formula. It’s especially suitable for smaller flocks where the cost per chicken is less of a concern, and the health benefits are more noticeable.

Pros:

  • Organic, non-GMO
  • High in protein and calcium
  • Soy-free, corn-free
  • Supports strong eggshells
  • Improves feather quality

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Some find it dusty
  • Not all chickens like it

Check Price

Best Feed for Meat Chickens: Kalmbach Feeds Start to Finish Meatbird Crumbles

Kalmbach Feeds Start to Finish Meatbird Crumbles is a standout choice for raising meat chickens like broilers, ducks, and geese. With its all-natural, non-GMO ingredients and a high protein content of 22%, this feed is tailored to meet the nutritional demands of fast-growing poultry. 

(You want that higher protein concentration for meat birds, specifically.)

The 50-lb bag is perfect for larger flocks, ensuring you have plenty on hand for your meat birds’ hearty appetites.

This feed’s formulation includes prebiotics, probiotics, essential oils, and enzymes, which are excellent for digestive and immune health. And vital for quick-growing birds, ensuring they grow up healthy and strong. You’ll see significant weight gain and health improvements in your birds, demonstrating the feed’s effectiveness.

However, there have been some issues with packaging, particularly in bad weather conditions, which might pose a challenge during transportation or storage. Also, a few chickens may be hesitant to accept this feed (as noted by a few chicken keepers I saw). 

Still, Kalmbach Feeds Meatbird Crumbles remains a top choice for raising healthy, robust meat chickens. Its balanced nutrition and non-GMO ingredients make it a trustworthy option for those dedicated to raising their meat birds on quality feed.

Pros:

  • High protein content (22%)
  • Non-GMO and all-natural
  • Supports digestive and immune health
  • Ideal for fast-growing poultry
  • Large 50-lb bag

Cons:

  • Some packaging issues
  • Not all chickens like it

Check Price

Best Organic Chicken Feed: Mile Four Organic Chicken Feed

Mile Four | Layer Chicken Feed | Organic |…
  • 100% US GROWN, ORGANIC, NON-GMO GRAINS: 100% of grains used are certified organic, certified…
  • TASTE & SEE THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR EGGS: Deeper, golden yolks, stronger eggshells & more consistent…
  • ORGANIC FEED = ORGANIC EGGS: 100% of eggs will be organic & soy-free. Feeding chickens organic feed…

Mile Four Organic Chicken Feed is a premium choice for those seeking an organic, nutritious diet for their laying hens. This feed is a blend of 100% US-grown, organic, non-GMO grains, free from corn, soy, and medication, ensuring a natural diet for your chickens. 

With 16% protein, it’s perfect for chickens over 20 weeks, supporting strong eggshells, healthier plumage, and more vibrant combs.

The feed’s impact on egg quality is noteworthy. Seriously. You’ll see deeper, golden yolks and consistent egg production, a clear sign of the nutritional value. It’s particularly appealing for those aiming to produce organic, soy-free eggs, as this feed meets all the necessary standards for organic egg production.

However, I’ve encountered some concerns about the feed’s appearance and consistency. It can sometimes be powdery and not as green as expected, which could lead to wastage and disappointment. Additionally, the price point is higher (relatively speaking), making it a more expensive option compared to conventional feeds.

Bottom line: Mile Four Organic Chicken Feed stands out for its high-quality, organic ingredients. It’s especially great for small flock owners who prioritize organic feed and are willing to invest in their chickens’ health and egg quality.

Pros:

  • 100% organic, non-GMO ingredients
  • No corn, soy, or medication
  • Improves egg quality and shell strength
  • Supports healthy chicken appearance
  • Fresh, US-grown grains

Cons:

  • Higher price point
  • Some find it powdery
  • Appearance may vary from expectations

Check Price

Best Starter Feed for Chicks: Kalmbach Feeds Start Right Chick Feed Crumbles

Kalmbach Feeds 18% Start Right Chick Feed…
  • All in one complete feed for starting and growing chicks. It removes the guesswork and eliminates…
  • Contains LifeGuard – a proprietary blend of prebiotics, probiotics, essential oils, and enzymes to…
  • Specifically formulated to meet the energy and nutrient needs of chicks intended to become layers.

Kalmbach Feeds Start Right Chick Feed Crumbles is an excellent choice for those raising chicks intended to become layers. This 25-pound feed offers a high 18% protein content, key for the early stages of growth. 

All you really need to know about this option: It’s an all-in-one feed, ideal from hatch to laying age, making it a convenient choice for new chick owners.

The feed’s composition includes LifeGuard, a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, essential oils, and enzymes. This mix is designed to support digestive health and overall well-being, contributing to the development of healthy, strong birds. Vitamins A, D, and E are optimally balanced to encourage healthy growth in young chicks.

I have to admit, though, that the feed’s cost-effectiveness has been questioned in its online reviews. Particularly for those looking to return the product. The return shipping costs reportedly can exceed the product’s price, posing a potential issue for those who find the feed unsuitable.

Having not experienced that issue personally, Kalmbach Feeds Start Right Chick Feed Crumbles remains for me a top pick for its quality and comprehensive nutrition. Perfect for those raising chicks for the first time, thanks to its straightforward feeding approach.

Pros:

  • High protein content (18%)
  • All-in-one feed from hatch to laying
  • Supports digestive and immune health
  • Vitamins A, D, E for strong growth
  • Convenient for new chick owners

Cons:

  • Return costs can be high
  • Might not suit all budgets

Check Price

What to Look for in Feed for Your Chickens

The attributes you consider important in a chicken feed will depend on your specific flock, location, and preferences. Still, here are some factors to consider as you look for the best chicken feed for your flock:

  • Nutrient balance. Ensure the feed offers a balanced mix of essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The right balance is crucial for the overall health and productivity of the chickens.
  • Protein content. Look for feeds with adequate protein levels. For laying hens, a protein content of around 16-18% is generally recommended, while younger chickens and broilers may require higher protein content.
  • Quality grain content. Opt for feeds that include whole grains such as corn, wheat, or oats. Whole grains are a good source of energy and help in the digestive process.
  • Calcium for laying hens. If you have laying hens, calcium is vital for strong eggshells. Look for feeds with added calcium or consider providing a separate calcium supplement.
  • Low dust and filler material. High-quality feed should have minimal dust and fillers. Excessive dust can cause respiratory issues in chickens, and fillers offer little nutritional value.
  • Vitamin and mineral fortification. Ensure the feed is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, phosphorus, and others. These are crucial for the health and well-being of the chickens.
  • No harmful additives. Avoid feeds that contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Also, be wary of feeds that contain antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • Organic options. For those preferring organic produce, look for feeds that are certified organic, meaning they are made from ingredients grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Age and purpose specific. Choose a feed that is specific to the age (chick starter, grower feed, layer feed) and purpose (meat production, egg laying) of your chickens.
  • Non-GMO ingredients. If this is a concern, look for feeds that are non-GMO verified, ensuring that the ingredients have not been genetically modified.
  • Pellet vs. mash vs. crumble. Consider the form of the feed. Pellets are generally less wasteful than mash, and crumbles can be easier for younger chickens to eat.
  • Amino acids. Look for feeds that contain essential amino acids like lysine and methionine, which are crucial for healthy growth and egg production.
  • Fiber content. Adequate fiber is important for digestive health. Ingredients like beet pulp are often added to increase the fiber content in chicken feed.
  • Omega-3 enriched. Some feeds are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase the nutritional value of the eggs.

Chicken Feed FAQs

What are the essential nutrients that backyard chickens need in their feed?

You need to give your backyard chickens feed with protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Protein is key for growth and egg production. Vitamins and minerals keep them healthy and strong.

How does chicken feed vary for different stages of a chicken’s life?

In a chicken’s life, feed changes as they grow. Chicks need high-protein starter feed. Adult hens need layer feed for good eggs.

How much feed does a backyard chicken need daily?

A backyard chicken typically needs about 1/4 to 1/3 pound of feed daily. Adjust this based on their size and egg-laying. Always provide fresh water, too.

Can kitchen scraps be a part of the chicken’s diet, and if so, what are safe options?

Yes, kitchen scraps can be part of a chicken’s diet. Safe options include fruits, vegetables, and grains. Avoid toxic foods like onions, garlic, and citrus. I’ve put together a comprehensive list of scrap foods chickens can eat.

Is it necessary to supplement the chicken feed with additional vitamins or minerals?

Usually, good quality chicken feed has all the vitamins and minerals your chickens need. But sometimes, you might add calcium for stronger eggshells. Always check your chickens’ health and egg quality to decide.

Wrapping Up: Choosing the Best Chicken Feed for Your Flock

You now have the know-how to choose the best feed for your chickens, no matter their stage or purpose. Remember: The right feed means healthier chickens and better eggs or meat. Stick to quality, nutrient-rich options, and watch your flock flourish. Happy feeding!

Looking for a chicken feeder to put your flock’s feed in? Check out our guide to the top chicken feeders.

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