Did you run out of chicken feed recently? A couple of years ago, our fall order of chicken feed was running low...so I started using old time chicken feed recipes to keep our girls happy.
If you’re coming to the end of your chicken feed bag and it’s not quite time to load up on your backyard chicken supplies, here’s a quick list of foods to feed chickens when you run out of feed.
Chicken Feed Recipes for Your Backyard Flock
Before jumping into the list, here are a few things to remember.
- Chickens can go up to 48 hours (two days) without eating.
- Chickens MUST have water every day.
- NEVER give chickens chocolate, spoiled food, raw potato peels, or raw avocado peels. Don't use chicken feed recipes that include any of these ingredients.
- If you feed your chickens beans, onions or garlic, their eggs will taste ODD.
- The more natural greens (weeds, grasses, leaves) your chickens eat, the better their eggs will taste.
- In the winter, Cook a warm "poultry porridge mash" chicken feed recipe. It will warm them up when the temperatures drop below zero.
What to Feed Your Chicken When You Run Out of Food
Here's what we give our cold-hardy chickens when we're low on feed.
- cooked oatmeal (cooled, no seasoning)
- quinoa (cooled, no seasoning)
- cooked cornmeal (cooled, no seasoning)
- bulgar (cooked)
- cooked rice (white, brown, or wild rice)
- cooked lentils
- flax seeds
- sunflower seeds
- plain yogurt
- fish guts
- scrambled eggs
- hardboiled eggs (chopped)
- dandelion greens
- other edible weeds (plantain, chamomile, etc.)
- edible leaves and grass
- mosquitoes! (our bug zapper gets filled quickly)
- watermelon rinds (our chickens LOVE these)
- cabbage leaves
- spinach leaves
- broccoli stems
- kale leaves
- fruit peels
- fruit cores
- vegetable scraps (NOT onion skins, or uncooked potato peels or avocado peels)
- stale homemade bread
Homemade Chicken Scratch
In addition to the regular food for chickens, we like to give them treats, including a DIY flock block to peck away at.
First, we sometimes get soaked leftover grain from our local beer brewery. We call this "drunk chicken feed," and our flock likes it. Or we make our own fermented chicken feed.
Secondly, we also give them homemade chicken scratch. This serves as grit to help them digest their food.
Here's the homemade chicken feed recipe we use most often for chicken scratch:
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup flax seeds
- ¾ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried corn
We also sometimes put out a dish of oyster shells. And other times we'll give them crushed eggshells. These have calcium and help our layers produce eggs with thicker shells.
I also grow lentil sprouts for our chickens...and ourselves.
Warm Homemade Feed for Chickens
Living in Canada's subarctic Northwest Territories, our winters get cold. And homesteading off the grid with chickens (and now turkeys) can be a challenge. Trying to keep our chickens warm and fed when it's -50 is not for the fainthearted.
Although our DIY chicken coop was very well insulated, we like to also warm up our chickens with hot meals in the cold season. So for their evening meal, we'll cook up a hearty homemade chicken feed recipe like this one.
I should point out that we have 30+ chickens right now. This is a combination of meat chickens and layers. This recipe makes the right amount to fill them up at one meal.
- 2 cups large flake oatmeal
- 2 cups sunflower seeds
- 1 ½ cups barley
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 cup frozen corn/peas/carrots
- 2 cup lentils
Combine all in a large pot, add 3 ½ cups of water, and bring to a boil.
If you don't use frozen veggies, add ½ cup of water. Simmer until lentils are cooked (about 12 - 15 minutes), then allow to cool so the mixture is just warm.
We scoop this into a large old cast-iron pot in the coop.
In the spring, summer and fall we only give our chickens scraps and "messy" foods in the run to keep the coop cleaner.
And that's it!