A few months ago I started an experiment on the cost of chicken feed. I have been reporting the results as I got them, but I am going to also compile them together in this post.
The question was does a more expensive feed have less waste and what chicken feed is the best for your poultry? I looked
at four different feeds (Big Sky, ONate, Nutrena, and Purina) and calculated the feed eaten along with the ingredients.
This was not 100% scientific because my chickens are not confined and only offered the one feed. There is a normal amount of waste and they can get supplements while free-ranging. Still, it gives a pretty good idea since each bag of feed lasts over 2 months. Hopefully the variables start to even out over that amount of time.
Nutrena Country Chicken Feed
- Nutrena Country feed costs $21.75/bag in Arizona.
- $0.52/week to feed out ($11.26/month for a flock of 5 bantams)
- Top three ingredients: Wheat middlings, ground wheat, maize distillers dried grains with solubles
- Next two ingredients: ground corn, grain screenings
Purina Layena Chicken Feed
- Purina Layena feed costs $27.75/bag in Arizona
- $0.60/week to feed out ($12.99/month for a flock of 5 bantams)
- Top three ingredients: processed grain by-products, grain products, plant protein products
- Next two ingredients: Calcium carbonate, molasses products
ONate Chicken Feed
- ONate feed costs $22.25/bag in Arizona
- $0.71/week to feed out ($15.37/month for a flock of 5 bantams)
- Top three ingredients: ground corn, soybean meal, calcium carbonate
- Next two ingredients: soybean oil, salt
Big Sky Organic Chicken Mash
- Big Sky feed costs $28.75/bag in Arizona
- $0.75/week to feed out ($16.24/month for a flock of 5 bantams)
- Top three ingredients: organic kamut khorasan wheat, organic barley, organic peas
- Next two ingredients: organic flaxseed, organic fishmeal
Final Notes on the Cheap Chicken Feed Experiment
I did have a few surprises. ONate, despite being the second cheapest (by far) was a decent amount more expensive to feed out because of the higher waste. Big Sky had a ton of waste. This was mainly because it had black oil sunflower seeds included and my girls would dig those out first thing – spilling tons of feed while they did. One thing that Big Sky had going for it was that my girls pooped a lot less while on it. I keep all the chicken poo for the compost bin and I get about a gallon bucket each week. While on Big Sky it took 2-3 weeks to fill up that gallon bucket. I have one silkie hen that gets a glob of poop on her tail feathers that eventually has to be washed off. This also cleared up for the couple of months they were on Big Sky.
If you were going for price then I would definitely go for Nutrena. At $11.26/month it was the cheapest to feed out and had similar ingredients to the Purina and O'Nate. I did like that Big Sky had higher amounts of Omega added so if you were going for healthiest I would go with Big Sky. For $4.98/month more you will get a higher quality feed with better omegas. That will mean that the omegas in your eggs are higher.
The Arizona area also sells Modesto organic feed. I think I will try that one next because it is either crumble or pellets, not mash. If the hens were pooping less on the Big Sky then I can guess that they were eating less so the large consumption amount was probably due to waste. Modesto comes out around the same prices as Big Sky and Purina and with less waste it might come out quite a bit cheaper.
Arizona Chicken Feed Options
These are the prices and feed options available to the Tucson, Arizona area. Many of these feeds are available elsewhere, but may be a different price. When I was visiting family in Illinois I price checked Nutrena and it was about half the cost! I have the consumption rates in each post so you can plug in your own cost values.
Happy homesteading! Click here to sign up for my mailing list