Pet chickens are easy to care for, full of personality, and they help keep your garden slug-free. Plus, fresh eggs! Keeping your chickens content and in top condition begins with quality chicken feed.
“Most chicken feeds contain a selection of grains and seeds, plus a protein source—often fishmeal—to arrive at a formula that contains 15-16 percent protein and around 3.5 percent calcium,” says Lisa Steele, a fifth-generation chicken keeper and creator of the popular website Fresh Eggs Daily. “This provides the hens with what they need to be healthy and lay eggs with strong shells. Chicken feed comes in whole/cracked grain, pellet, or crumble form.”
In addition to insights from experts, we evaluated ingredients, sourcing quality, and manufacturer transparency to find the very best chicken feed for most chickens. Our overall favorite, Scratch and Peck Organic Chicken Feeds, are made with USDA certified organic, non-GMO, and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Here are the best chicken feeds available today for hobbyists and keepers.
Best Overall: Scratch and Peck Organic Chicken Feeds
USDA certified organic
Non-GMO Project verified
Sustainably grown, sourced, and produced in North America
Free of fillers
Some feed is lost to dustiness
Our favorite chicken feed has balanced nutrition and high-quality ingredients and comes from a manufacturer with a proven track record.
Scratch and Peck offers 11 varieties of organic chicken and duck feed, as well as several types of poultry treats, supplements, and kits. For most chicken owners, their original Naturally Free Organic Layer Feed is the perfect option.
In addition to the organic grains, flax meal, and other essential vitamins included in their organic feed, Scratch and Peck gets its protein from the black soldier fly larvae, more commonly known as grubs. This protein-rich ingredient also offers minerals, essential amino acids, and enough calcium to strengthen eggshells. The combined formula contains 16 percent protein, which is an amount well-suited for egg-laying adult hens (age 20+ weeks), especially those in need of extra protein when molting.
In addition to its high-quality ingredients, Scratch and Peck maintains high levels of transparency, including certification as a B Corp, which sets rigorous standards for corporate accountability, charitable giving, and supply chain transparency. Even the protein grubs are grown in a sustainable way, with larvae raised on pre-consumer food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Each bag of feed saves pounds of pre-consumer food waste from entering a landfill.
Scratch and Peck Organic Chicken Feed is also suitable for ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. It is available in 10-, 25-, and 50-pound shipments, with a 5 percent discount offered on repeat-order subscriptions.
Best Starter Feed for Chicks: Manna Pro Organic Starter Crumbles Chicken Feed
USDA certified organic
Free of pesticides, medications, and genetically modified ingredients
Safe for mixed poultry flocks
Crumbles on the large side
A little more expensive than non-organic feeds
Chicken starter feed is meant for chicks that are a day old through 8 weeks of age. It generally contains a higher protein content than grower, layer, and broiler feeds. Made with 19 percent protein, Manna Pro Organic Starter Crumbles Chicken Feed is nutritionally complete, which means it's the only feed you'll need for the first eight weeks of your chickens' lives. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water and your feeding regimen is complete.
Ingredients in Manna Pro Organic Starter Crumbles include organic corn, soybean meal, barley, wheat middlings, and soy oil. It also has all the necessary vitamin and mineral supplementation, including folic acid, niacin, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins D3, A, E, and B12.
Manna Pro offers both medicated and non-medicated versions of its starter crumble in 5- and 30-pound bags.
Best Grower Feed for Pullets and Broilers: Grubbly Farms Little Pecks Starter Grower Feed
Includes probiotics for healthy digestion
Made without soy, corn, fish, fillers or GMO foods
Limited retailer availability
The nutritional requirements for broilers (meat birds) are somewhat similar to the needs of pullets (chicks about 8 to 20 weeks old). They need a chicken feed with about 16 to 18 percent protein for quick, robust growth. Lean toward the higher end of the range for broilers.
Like our best overall pick, this feed gets its protein from grubs grown on rescued food waste, with 19 percent minimum crude protein in every bag. Other main ingredients include sustainably harvested vegetables and whole grains. Like a few other brands, this feed is designed to also be appropriate as a starter feed. The manufacturers of this feed recommend that you begin transitioning to adult feed around 18 weeks of age. You can also get 10 percent off when you subscribe to regular deliveries.
Best Layer Feed: Small Pet Select Chicken Layer Feed
Non-GMO, corn- and soy-free
Made in Washington State, USA
Layer feeds are designed to provide healthy, balanced nutrition that also produces fantastic eggs. They tend to have a little less protein than starter and grower feeds but more calcium for strong eggshells. This feed offers an optimal formula with 18 percent protein and 2.5 percent calcium. These high-protein pellets, grains, seeds, and herbs are lightly basted with omega-3 fatty-acid-rich vegetable oil.
Small Pet Select Chicken Layer Feed is designed to be nutritionally dense, avoiding fillers like soy and corn. Instead, its primary ingredients are peas, followed by wheat, oats, millet, triticale, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and fish meal for protein. The manufacturer prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients.
The Small Pet Select feed is sold in 10-, 20-, and 40-pound bags.
Best Organic: New Country Organics Classic Grind Layer Feed
Organic grains sourced from North America
Probiotics for healthy digestion
Classic Grind Layer Feed mash is New Country Organics’ top-selling product and is also available as pellets, crumbles, and corn-free and wheat-free options. It’s made with certified organic grains and has an optimal 17 percent protein and 3.5-4.5 percent calcium. The NCO Classic Grind Layer Feed is a cracked and milled grain supplemented with organic kelp and alfalfa, with extra calcium for eggshell strength. Organic flaxseed increases the omega-3 fatty acid content of the eggs.
Certified organic by USDA certifier SCS Organic Services, New Country Organics puts a high priority on freshly produced feed and building relationships with small, organic farms. Their online tutorials are a great way to plan out an organic strategy for your own chickens.
Best Crumbles and Pellets: Blue Seal Home Fresh Extra Egg Crumbles and Pellets
Marigold extract for bright yellow yolks
Includes prebiotics for healthy digestion
Also suitable for other poultry
Contains no animal products
Not organic or non-GMO certified
The form of feed you use—mash, crumbles, or pellets—is about what your hens prefer. Whole grain mashes mean picky eaters can eat selectively and miss out on complete nutrition. Pellets are dry, easy to feed, and ensure balanced nutrition. Small chickens might need to peck them into smaller pieces. Crumbles are usually smaller pieces and are easier to eat.
Blue Seal Extra Egg in crumbles and pellets is specifically designed for optimal egg production. They feature 16 percent protein and 3.3-4.3 percent calcium. Vitamin E and selenium support a healthy immune system, and phytase is supposed to increase the availability of phosphorus, calcium, and energy, so your flock is getting the most from their feed. Their claim to fame is their NutriVantage Technology, a proprietary blend of chelating agents and organic acids that promote a healthy gut and optimal nutritional absorption.
There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in Blue Seal Home Fresh Extra Egg Crumbles and Pellets, but there are added amino acids formulated to support healthy skin and feathers.
Best Treats: Happy Hen Treats Mealworm Frenzy Poultry Treats
Great shelf life
Sourced from China
With a whopping 50 percent protein, these treats are a great way to supplement growing or egg-laying chickens. As the name might suggest, the protein in Happy Hen Treats Mealworm Frenzy comes entirely from whole, dehydrated mealworms with no added ingredients. They’re easy to feed and a great choice for training and luring.
They’re naturally low in calcium, so won’t upset the balance of your feed. As long as you don't mind handling dried mealworms, these are the perfect snack for your backyard chickens.
What to Look for in Chicken Feeds
Feeding Frequency and Portions
“Chickens should be fed each morning. There are lots of chicken layer feed brands to choose from, but part of the choice comes down to personal preference,” says Steele, the author of "The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook."
In general, chickens tend to graze rather than eat all at once. By feeding them first thing in the morning, you're ensuring them access throughout the day. In addition to feed, chickens need nonstop access to clean water, which should be refreshed daily.
Ingredients and Nutrition
Although opinions vary, look for about 19 to 24 percent protein in starter feeds for young chicks 1 day old through 8 weeks of age. Feeds meant for meat birds and pullet growers 8 to 20 weeks old should have about 16 to 19 percent protein and less calcium than in layer feeds. Growers who get too much calcium in their diet can develop kidney disease. When laying begins around 20 weeks, switch to layer feeds with 15 to 17 percent protein and about 3.5 percent calcium for stronger eggshells.
“If feeding a flock organically is important, then an organic feed would be the obvious choice,” adds Steele. “There are feeds that are non-GMO or corn- and soy-free for those who want to stay away from GMO crops and fillers.”
The proof is in the pudding. “Ultimately, you’ll know if you’re feeding a quality brand because your chickens will have nice shiny feathers and bright eyes, lay beautiful eggs with thick shells, and hatch healthy baby chicks,” explains Steele.
Feed Storage and Management
“Feed should be stored in a cool, dry place where rodents and animals can’t get at it and used before the expiration date on the label,” recommends Steele. “Wet, clumpy, or moldy feed should be discarded, as should feed with bugs in it. If you experience any health or medical issues with your flock, consider contacting the company to ask about any recent recalls or even switch brands of feed. And sign up for Google alerts for chicken feed recalls.”
How much feed per chicken?
“An adult chicken will eat about half a cup of feed per day, but that will vary depending on the time of year. In the summer, if the flock is able to be out on grass eating weeds and bugs, the feed intake will be less,” notes Steele. “It could be slightly higher in the winter in cold climates since chickens expend energy trying to stay warm. Chickens won’t overeat and will only eat until they have satisfied their nutritional and energy needs for the day.”
Can ducks eat chicken feed?
“Ducks can eat chicken feed and thrive on it, but since ducks require more niacin (vitamin B3) than chickens for strong legs and bones, adding a source of niacin to the chicken feed is required. Brewer’s yeast is one of the more common supplements for added niacin,” adds Steele. “It’s essential for ducks but also beneficial for chickens. Since niacin is water-soluble, meaning the body doesn’t store it up, it should be added to the feed daily. Other good sources of niacin that are beneficial for ducks—and they’ll love as treats—are peas, peanuts, whole wheat, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds.”
Why Trust the Spruce Pets?
The Spruce Pets exhaustively researches and recommends a broad range of products. We also tap a network of experts and testers to help you make smarter purchases.
This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde, who evaluated the ingredients, the source and quality of each feed, customer and expert reviews, the company’s research and development and their business ethics. She also holds a master’s degree in environmental science.
Lisa Steele is a fifth-generation chicken keeper and creator of the popular website Fresh Eggs Daily. Dubbed “queen of the coop” by the media, she has been recognized by many national outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Country Living, Farmers’ Almanac, the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, The View, NPR, and Martha Knows Best. The author of six previous books on raising backyard flocks, her latest is “The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook” (Harper Horizon, 2022), featuring recipes using fresh eggs from her chicken coop. Lisa lives and writes on a small farm in Maine that she shares with her husband, a corgi, a tuxedo cat, and a mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and geese.