Homemade feed for baby chicks

Newly Hatched Baby Chicken Food

When the baby chick just hatched, they need special attention and care to keep themselves steady and healthy for rapid transformation. Give the birds enough nutrition to start their life and good health to become fully feathered chickens. It is important to feed a newborn chicken properly. Their diet is versatile so feeding them is not a difficult task.

You can feed them commercial food or homemade food, which you will find in your kitchen, so know which food is best for them.

Baby chicks need essential nutrients like 18% to 20% protein, vitamins, minerals, grains, probiotic fats, etc., for immune health. It introduces them to fresh water and teaches them how to eat. The food quality and quantity change every week. Allow them time to adjust to their bedding. Place a heat lamp at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain enough heat source.

Starter Food

Keep the babies in the incubator for the whole day, then move them to the brooder. They absorb sustaining yolks into their bodies before coming out from the shell. You do not need to feed them or drink anything the next 48 hours after hatching. Give the babies starter food in the brooder, and the food must meet the nutrient. You can make the starter food or buy it from any retail store.

Chicks grow quickly in the first few weeks, and they cannot eat adult chickens’ food. High nutrients foods can damage their kidneys. Change the four in 3-4 weeks of age.

Commercial Food

Buy a good branded food as it is blended perfectly with all the important nutrients for chicks growth. Commercially made foods have balanced carbs, fats, and minerals. Buy them unprocessed whole grain, chick starter mix which is soy and corn free. Feed them until they are 8 years old.


Baby chicks need fresh and clean water for their well-being. Water supports all the essential body functions in the early stage of development, so a lack of water affects the chick’s health and metabolism. Put a small water pot or chick feeder near them to see what they are doing. If the chicks are not drinking water, dip their beaks into the water to drink water and familiarize themselves with it. Healthy chicks teach others how to drink, so you do not have to introduce all of them to drink. Just monitor them closely for a few hours and make good access.

Add some electrolyte powder to the water sometimes.

Homemade Baby Chicks Food

Homemade food is a fantastic alternative to commercial food. It is easy to prepare, and chicks will love to eat. Mix whole grain bread and boiled eggs, soak it in milk. Put the mix on paper and position it around the feeders. Mashed eggs and oats are also a great food for chicks. They have a natural tendency to eat, so check the next day. Once they are familiar with the food, use feeders to feed them.

After 1 week, they will eat spinach, lettuce, meat scraps, cabbage, and other leafy greens but do not give too much. Slowly add barley, whole wheat, sunflower seeds, dairy products, etc. , which are rich in proteins and other nutrients that increase bodily function. A good chick food list are,

  • Grass
  • Watermelons
  • Bananas
  • Apple
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Worms
  • Crickets

Three-week-old chicks can eat healthy food slowly, giving them adult food in limited quantities. They can eat forage so observe them for a few days. Baby chicks eat green vegetables and small worms in the wild. Sometimes they like to eat oilseed, canola seed, etc. They start to seek other delicious food outside, like frogs, bugs, or small mice.

What Can You Feed Baby Chicks If There is No Food?

If you do not have the starter food or forget to buy some from the local chicken feed store, quickly blend some scratch grain and uncooked oatmeal, and mix these two ingredients 50/50. Do not feed the chicks for long; it is only an emergency food option. Keep enough food for them in both summer and colder months.

What is the Best Chick Food?

The best food for chicks is organic chicken starter feed. It is packed with a balanced amount of organic carbs, calcium, zinc sulfate, vitamin D3, E, A, B12, folic acid, etc. The food must be served at room temperature.

Medicated or Non-Medicated Food

Medicated food is necessary when they are weak and rising in poor condition. The baby chicks do not need medicated food if you regularly clean the brooder and care for them. Commercial poultry farms need medicated foods for the chicks, but backyard flocks are healthier.

What Food You Should Not Give Baby Chickens

Some food contains toxins that you should not give to baby chicks. They will feel sick, and you have to treat them immediately. Some toxic foods are onions, avocado, eggplants, pickles, peanuts, etc.

Is It Okay to Feed the Baby Chicks Grit

The answer depends on what they are eating. You do not need to give chick grit when eating starter food. When they start eating supplemental food, it slowly adds grit to their food and helps their digestive system.

Homemade Organic Baby Chick Starter Feed Recipe {corn-free and soy-free}

Thinking about making your own chick starter feed, eh?

When we first got our baby chicks, I was determined to be the best chick mother I could possibly be. This involved painstakingly researching exactly what they should eat, being over-protective, and taking waaay too many pictures.

There were three things I knew before getting chicks: that I absolutely wasn’t going to feed them conventional medicated chick starter, that I wanted them to have the best diet possible from the start, and that I didn’t want it to be complicated. Plus, it had to be affordable!

I’m a bit unconventional, which is probably why I thought to make my own chick starter feed in the first place…

And I’ll be brutally honest here: making your own chick feed is a lot of work. Is it worth it? I think that depends entirely on your situation and what you can source locally. I love that I get to control what the chicks are eating, and I KNOW that it is full of nutrients that will make them grow to be beautiful and healthy birds.

Please note that I am not a veterinarian nor an animal food scientist- this is merely what worked for us and I wanted to share it with you. I am someone who loves her chickens, and who successfully raised baby chicks on this recipe. I am a doctor of humans with a fondness for biology, nutrition and research, so that helps too, I suppose…

Important Information

I have two recipes for you: both are between 20-22% protein, both are soy-free and corn-free, and one contains fish meal and one does not. I prefer the recipe with the fish meal because it is simpler. I’ve also found that our chickens prefer meat and bugs whenever they can have them, so I like being able to give the chicks that type of protein.

Don’t let their cuteness fool you- these fluffy little things will soon grow up to be mice and bug eating machines!

Grinding Chick Feed
There’s one thing that complicates making baby chick feed, and that is that you need to grind it into smaller pieces for the chicks. See grinding recommendations below in the recipe.

Chicks Need Grit
When feeding baby chicks homemade feed, they will also need to be supplemented with grit, which should be available at your local feed store, or online here. Grit for chicks is called #1 size or “chick” grit. It is important to get the correct size for their age. This is not the same as calcium/oyster shells (which they don’t need, and shouldn’t have, until they start laying). Do not mix this into the feed, but rather, offer it free-choice (just put some in a little bowl in the corner… and don’t be surprised when you find them sleeping in it!).

About Oats
The first round of feed I put together, I made the mistake of getting oats will hulls. While these are fine for adult chickens (although they generally prefer hull-less too), these don’t work for baby chicks. The hulls make the oats a lot harder to grind, and if you do grind them, the hulls come off and get mixed into the feed, and then the chicks have to pick around them. It’s a big mess, don’t use them.

Oats without the hulls are often called “oat groats,” and these are what you want. Steel cut oats are oat groats that are chopped, and these are also good (they are already ground for you!). Rolled oats or old-fashioned oats have been steamed and pressed- you can use these, but I found our chicks didn’t care for them as much as the other types. Instant oats are processed and stripped of nutrients, and I don’t recommend them for chicken feed.

Fish Meal
Wondering where to buy fish meal? I was lucky enough to find mine at our local feed store for a great price, but you can find it online also. Quality matters here- make sure that the fish meal you are buying isn’t made for gardening only; many are. 

Try these:

–> Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Meal (5#)
–> Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Meal (25#)

How Much Will This Cost?
It’s nearly impossible for me to break down the cost of this feed in a meaningful way for you, because where you can get your ingredients from makes all the difference. I am fortunate that I can get organic wheat, oats and peas from the feed store just down the road for a reasonable price, which is why it is much cheaper for me to make my own organic, soy-free, and corn-free chick starter feed.

I suggest you call every farm and feed store in your area, or within driving distance of an hour or so, and ask about each of the ingredients- whether they have things like organic wheat, oats and peas, and the prices. Or talk to your local food co-op about ordering some big bags of grains for a discounted price.  Happy ingredient hunting!

See? Making your own chicken feed is hard work. It really does take dedication and time… so if you don’t have those things to give, I highly recommend you seek out a pre-made feed. However, you DON’T have to settle for the subpar brands at the feed store.

I Recommend this Pre-made Chick Starter Feed

Scratch and Peck Chick Starter (no corn, no soy) is what I believe to be the highest quality chicken feed available- it contains real ingredients and is from a great company. You can find it on amazon here, or use their store locator to see if it is available anywhere near you.

Additionally, if there is an Azure Standard drop site near you, they also carry it for a reasonable price. Find it –> here.

Organic Baby Chick Starter Feed Recipe with Fish Meal

7 cups organic hull-less oats
5 cups organic wheat
3 cups organic split green peas or organic field peas
1 cup organic (shelled) sunflower seeds
1. 5 cups organic/wild caught fish meal
2 Tbs blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup organic kelp
2 Tbs brewer’s yeast
egg (raw or hard-boiled: see below)
greens: fresh grass, spinach, dark lettuce or kale

Organic Baby Chick Starter Feed Recipe (No Fish Meal)

5 cups organic hull-less oats
5 cups organic wheat
5 cups organic split green peas or organic field peas
2 cups organic (shelled) sunflower seeds
1 cup organic flax meal or organic sesame seeds
2 Tbs blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup organic kelp
2 Tbs brewer’s yeast
egg (raw or hard-boiled: see below)
greens: fresh grass, spinach, dark lettuce or kale

Both of these recipes make a little over one gallon (17 cups of feed). Feel free to make as large or small a quantity as you like using the same ratios and instructions.

We’ll use the blackstrap molasses to add vitamins and get the powders to stick to the grains- and this works best using a specific technique. Mix together the ground grains, peas, sunflower seeds (and sesame if using the no fish meal recipe). Remove three cups of the mixture to another bowl, and to it add the molasses; use a large fork to stir it around until all the grains are coated. Add in the kelp and brewer’s yeast (and fish meal or flax meal) and stir again until the grains are coated with the powders. Add this mixture back in with the the rest of the grains in your bucket and stir so that all the coated grains are mixed in with the non-coated.

If the mixture has a lot of powder/crumbs in it, and they seem to fall to the bottom of the food dish and go un-eaten, feel free to mix in a little bit of water (to that day’s ration, not the whole batch) to bind the powders and make a “mash” so it is easier for the chicks to eat.

How to Grind Chick Feed
I found that my food processor was not strong enough to break down the dry grains and legumes, but a Vitamix blender worked (if making food for just a few chicks, fine… but if you have a lot, you’ll burn out your motor quickly- might want to rethink). A grain mill or even an old meat grinder might work (I haven’t tried either of these), but also remember that you don’t want to turn the mixture into flour- just smaller pieces. We have an antique hand crank corn grinder, which is the perfect tool for the job!

However, if you soak the ingredients for 24 hours first, you can grind them in a food processor. This will take more forethought and organization on your part. Soaked grains should be used within a couple days after soaking, which means you will need to be on top of things, so you don’t run out and don’t have more than you can use. Bonus: soaked grains are even healthier for the chicks! So if you can manage this, it is a great option. On the subject of soaking: if you do take this route, only soak the grains and peas. No need to soak the sunflower seeds, nor the kelp, yeast or fish meal. Aaand one more thing- each grain will grind differently, so it would be better to grind each type separately, otherwise your wheat might turn to mush before the peas have even started breaking down. Not totally necessary, but helpful.

Feeding Egg
If the egg is coming from my own (very healthy) flock then I leave it raw. I feel comfortable eating our chicken eggs raw, which is why I feel comfortable giving them to the chicks raw. Use at your own risk. If the egg is from a store or someone else’s flock, it should absolutely be cooked, preferably hardboiled.

This is where it gets difficult to tell you how much egg and greens to add, since everyone will have a different amount of chicks and go through a different amount of feed. The egg and greens should be added fresh the day that you feed it (as opposed to being mixed in with the above grains and left to sit for more than a day).

Aim for 1 egg for every 6 cups of chicken feed. If raw, just mix it in, and if hardboiled, chop it up finely (use a potato masher) and then mix it in to that day’s feed. So, if your chicks eat three cups of food per day, add in about half of an egg or so. Keep the rest of the egg in the fridge until you use it the next day.

Feeding Greens
I try to use what I have here on the homestead in order to minimize cost- if I have garden lettuce or kale, I use that (chopped very finely), otherwise I use grass. We have tall, thick grass in the spring, and that works well. I will pick a clump and then use a scissors to cut it into about 1/2-inch lengths. Make absolutely sure your grass wasn’t treated with any chemicals!

Add greens at a rate of about 1/2 cup per every 4-6 cups of chicken feed. This doesn’t have to be exact, just close. And just like the egg, mix the finely chopped greens into that day’s feed at the time of feeding.

Transitioning to Whole Grain
As the chicks get older, they will be able to eat the grains unground (which will be very nice for you!). At around 6 weeks old, start experimenting to see what they will eat whole and what they won’t. I did this by putting a mixture of the whole grains in a small bowl in their brooder and watching to see if they would eat them.

When they start to take whole grains, slowly (over a week or more) transition them by mixing some of the ground feed they are used to with the new unground version of the same feed, increasing the ratio of whole grain feed a little each day.

Congrats chick-parents! Your new fluffy little ones are on their way to healthy, happy lives!

Anderson, Vern 2002. A Guide to Feeding Field Peas to Livestock. North Dakota State University. Fargo, North Dakota. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/livestoc/as1224.pdf

C. D. Bennett, H. L. Classen, and C. Riddell. Feeding Broiler Chickens Wheat and Barley Diets Containing Whole, Ground and Pelleted Grain. 2002 Poultry Science 81:995–1003

Ibrahim, M. A., and E. A. El Zubeir. Higher fibre sunflower seed meal in broiler chick diets. 1991 Animal Feed Science and Technology, 33: 343–347.

Munt R.H.C., J.G. Dingle and M.G. Sumpa. Growth, carcass composition and profitability of meat chickens given pellets, mash or free-choice diet. 1995 British Poultry Science 36:277-284.

Rama Rao, S. V., M.V.L.N. Raju, A. K. Panda, and M. R. Reddy. Sunflower seed meal as a substitute for soybean meal in commercial broiler chicken diets. 2006 British Poultry Science 5:592–598.

Wondifraw, Zewdu and Tamir, Berhan. The effect of feeding different levels of brewer’s dried grain yeast mixture on the performance of white leghorn chicks. 2014 International Journal of Livestock Production 5(1): 10-14

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compound feed recipes Start, Growth, Finish

Compound feed for chickens recipes and composition of compound feed Start, Growth, Finish. We make feed for chickens with our own hands.

Raising healthy chicks is highly dependent on quality feed, most poultry farmers use starter feed to feed their chicks.

Compound feed is a balanced diet consisting of all essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals necessary for the growth and development of chickens or adult birds.

Depending on the age of the birds, different feed compositions are used:

  • Start is used for feeding chickens up to 10 days old.
  • "Growth" - used for chickens from 11 to 22 days.
  • "Finish" applies from 23 days.

The name of compound feed and composition may vary slightly, because there are several recipes for preparing one type of compound feed, and each manufacturer tries to develop its own composition in order to compete.

Poultry breeders use purchased feed for feeding chickens or make them yourself, home-made feed will cost you less, if you have a large enough number of chickens, then it is more profitable to cook feed yourself.

Compound feed for chickens can be made by yourself, just grind the right ingredients and mix them in the right proportion according to the recipe.

To prepare feed, you will need a grain crusher, you can use a purchased option, if you wish, you can make a simple crusher yourself. In the grain crusher, you can crush all ingredients, grains of wheat, corn, oilcake, etc.

To weigh the ingredients you will need a scale, a regular household scale will do.

Mix all feed components in a large wide bowl.

Start formula for chickens up to 10 days old:

  • 50% - crushed corn.
  • 16% - ground wheat.
  • 14% - sunflower cake.
  • 12% - kefir (low fat).
  • 8% ground barley.

For starter feed, you need to grind all the components as finely as possible, because the chickens cannot yet eat coarse grains.

Do-it-yourself “Rost” compound feed recipe for chickens aged 11 to 22 days:

  • 48% - ground corn.
  • 19% - cake.
  • 13% - ground wheat.
  • 7% - meat and bone meal.
  • 5% - fodder yeast.
  • 3% - crushed grass.
  • 3% powder reverse
  • 1% - feed fat.

"Finishing" compound feed for chickens over 23 days old recipe:

  • 45% - ground corn.
  • 19% - ground wheat.
  • 19% - sunflower meal.
  • 5% - fodder yeast.
  • 3% - fishmeal.
  • 3% - crushed grass.
  • 2% - meat and bone meal.
  • 1% - chalk.
  • the rest is crushed shell.

Approximate average daily dose per chicken:

  • Compound feed "Start" - 10 - 25 grams.
  • Compound feed "Growth" - 100 grams.
  • Compound feed "Finish" 120 grams.

I also recommend that you familiarize yourself with the recipe for compound feed for laying hens.

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