How Much Is Chicken Feed? A Guide to Feeding Your Poultry
As a new or aspiring chicken farmer, asking “How much is chicken feed?” should form a key part of your preparation.
Whether you’re raising laying breeds, meat breeds, or dual-purpose breeds doesn’t matter.
Chicken feed will be one of your largest ongoing expenses while the right nutrition will play an essential role in supporting the health and happiness of your poultry.
The great news is that by appreciating this at an early stage, you’re already one step ahead of me.
Frankly, the cost of chicken feed is something I completely overlooked when starting my chicken farming journey.
I’ve combined my experience with extensive research to help you avoid the same mistakes. In this egg-cellent guide, we’ll answer all of your key questions, including;
- How much is chicken feed?
- Do chicks and pullets have different requirements?
- How much chicken feed per chicken is needed?
- How much is a bag of chicken feed?
- Is all chicken feed the same in terms of cost and nutrition?
And by the end of the guide, you’ll no longer need cluck on your side.
So, How Much Chicken Feed per Chicken per Day is Needed?
Before calculating the cost of chicken feed, you must first understand how much chicken feed per chicken is needed.
Like humans, all chickens have individual eating habits.
As a rule of thumb, however, the average adult chicken will consume roughly 100-150g of chicken feed per day. This translates to around 0.25 lbs or one ½ cup if you prefer more practical terms.
I’m guessing you won’t just have a single chicken on your land, though. So, the following table will probably come in handy (unless you enjoy your multiplications, in which case go crazy) when calculating your chicken feed requirements
Number of Chickens
How Long a 50lb Bag Lasts
Of course, there may be slight contrasts in how much feed individual chickens need. This could be due to variables including size, temperament, sex, and whether they have successfully foraged for scraps - you should remember, though, that scraps and treats should account for no more than 10% of their diet.
Either way, the above guide on how much chicken feed per chicken per day is required will point you in the right direction.
Chicken Feed Requirements for Chicks and Pullets
You may start out with mature chickens, but you will soon have to take care of their offspring. Naturally, younger chickens will require less chicken feed per day than an adult.
A chick should only need 1-2 ozs per day, which means they’ll need roughly 1 lb (or a little under) per week. Once they reach eight weeks, though, this will slowly increase until they reach the 0.25 lb mark at around 16 weeks.
The great news, however, is that chickens will very rarely eat when they are not hungry.
So, you can slowly increase this without worrying about overfeeding or potential obesity.
Choosing the right feeding method is another valuable step. Most chickens prefer to eat little and often, meaning 2-4 meal times is better than a single daily feed.
A chicken feeder kit will make this easier. Try to embrace a consistent routine with clear indicators that it is feeding time.
You’d be surprised at how quickly chickens get used to the routine - honestly, their feeding habits aren’t so different from yours and mine.
Understanding Starter, Grower, and Layer Feed
In addition to understanding how volume changes as chickens grow, you should select the right type of chicken feed. This ensures that your chickens receive balanced nutrition throughout each stage of their growth.
I could go into a lot more detail about poultry science and why chickens need protein, the essential insights you need are;
- Starter feed is for chicks and contains more protein. While usually provided for the first eight weeks, you may switch to grower feed anywhere between 6-10 weeks.
- Grower feed is also higher in protein than standard adult chicken feed. It is given up to the 16-week mark when chickens are deemed adults.
- Layer feed is for laying hens and adult chickens. It should meet the nutritional merits mentioned above and be used for the rest of their lives.
It’s not going to kill your chickens if they eat the layer feed a little early. If you want to promote the best development, though, it’s best to use the right feed at each life stage.
On a side note, appreciating the role of hydration is vital too - especially as laying hens require more than double the amount of water on egg-laying days compared to non-egg-laying days.
How Much is a Bag of Chicken Feed?
Once you know how much chicken feed is needed, the next task is to find the right chicken feed to raise healthy and happy chickens.
The recipe for success includes several ingredients and you must be sure to check that any chosen chicken feed delivers the right nutritional aspects.
This includes 16-18% protein as well as high levels of amino acids and calcium (read my guide for more insight) to ensure healthy growth while also boosting the quality of eggs produced.
In 2021, research into the topic of “How much does chicken feed cost?” found that farmers can expect to pay as little as 7 cents per chicken per day.
However, it was also shown that 15 cents was a more typical estimate while inflation has seen this increase to between 20 cents and 25 cents. There are several variants to consider, though, such as;
- Whether you choose standard, premium, or organic chicken feed.
- Which brand of chicken feed is selected.
- Whether you’ve had to pay delivery costs.
- The size of the chicken feed bag that you choose.
When considering how much does chicken feed cost, it should be noted that this accounts for around 70% of the ongoing costs. The goal, then, is to find the right balance between cost and quality. Do this, and your ongoing chicken farming duties will feel under control.
How Much Does a 50 lb Bag of Chicken Feed Cost?
When buying chicken feed, it makes sense to buy a large bag because it will reduce your cost per feed while simultaneously saving you additional trips to the local store. As the table above shows, a 50 lb bag is a practical choice.
There are slight price differences between brands and retailers as well as the exact ingredients used. Generally speaking, though, the biggest contrast is between standard and non-GMO (organic) chicken feed.
- Standard layer chicken feed costs an estimated $15 per 50 lb bag.
- Organic layer chicken feed costs an estimated $30 per 50 lb bag.
You can then use the above information to work out a rough estimate of the annual costs.
At 0.25 lbs. of chicken feed per chicken per day, you can expect adult chickens to eat 91.25 lbs. per year.
If you increase that to 100 lb, you can expect to pay $30 per year for standard layer chicken feed or £60 for organic chicken feed.
Can I Buy Two 50 lb Bags For The Year?
In a bid to stay organized, you may be tempted to buy two 100 lb bags of chicken feed (multiplied by the number of chickens you have) for the year. I have one word of advice: don’t.
Chicken feed loses nutritional value over time while it may also lead to a risk of mold. This would result in a waste of food and money.
Therefore, it’s vital that chicken food is stored in a cool and dry place and used within two months of purchase.
There are more chickens in America than people. Even if you are a small time farmer, you will probably have several chickens.
As long as you have at least four, your 50 lb bag will be used within the two-month window.
Obviously, if you have dozens or hundreds of chickens, you will go through 50 lbs quickly. In this case, you can look to arrange far larger bulk purchases.
Even if you only need one bag every few weeks, though, it is always worth talking to your supplier about subscription purchases. It is one of the best ways to secure a discount and one I personally wish I’d used far earlier.
How Much is 14 Pound of Chicken Feed for Starter Feed?
As well as adult chicken feed, you will probably buy grower feed and starter feed. When looking at starter feed, each chick will consume around 2.63 lbs of feed in the first six weeks.
If continuing the starter feed to 8 weeks (as I would suggest), this will increase to 3.84 lbs before moving up to grower feed.
A 14 lb bag of starter chicken feed per three chickens will be more than enough. You can expect to get this for an estimated $2.
Alternatively, you could look at an organic 40 lb starter feed bag, which will cost about $42 for an organic version.
The good news is that any leftover chicken feed from the starter bags can be mixed into the subsequent grower feed. So, you won’t waste food or money.
How Much is 14 Pound of Chicken Feed for Grower Feed?
Between the starter feed and layer feed stages, you will need to consider the grower feed too.
A regular mash poultry grower feed will cost $21 for a 50 lbs. bag. However, a 14 lbs. will cost around half of this value, which can work out as a good choice if you only have a small number of chickens. After all, the grower feed is only needed for the pullet phase.
Comparing Chicken Feed Prices for Larger Bags
When looking to get the best value for money, volume is a key decision. Again, you must avoid excessively large orders as you could end up with spoiled chicken feed.
Nonetheless, the guidelines below should prove that it’s important to select the right amount - especially if you have a large flock.
Size of Chicken Feed Bag
50lb bag standard
50lb bag organic
1 ton non-GMO scratch feed
1 ton non-GMO layer feed
1,909 lbs (one bag)
1,909 lbs (83 x 23lbs)
Grower and starter may be a little more expensive in bulk purchases too. For example, a 1,809 lbs order may be $1,600 for a grower and $1,700 for a starter.
What Else Can I Do to Save Money?
Understanding the costs should help you keep the costs under control. But I appreciate that times are tough and you would probably enjoy some additional tips.
So, if you’re about to join a community that included 164,099 farms at the last census, here are six of the best tips to help you save;
- Where possible, use a local service with free delivery.
- Actually weigh out the chicken feed.
- Reduce waste with a quality chick feeder for chicks or chicken feeder for adults.
- Buy in the largest volume without risking waste due to exceeding 60 days.
- Store your chicken feed correctly.
- Keep your compost in the chicken run.
Finding the right chicken feed is one of the most important responsibilities that you will face as a chicken farmer.
While it may have seemed a daunting prospect 10 minutes ago, you should now have a better understanding of the situation and know the answers to key questions like “How much does chicken feed cost?” and “How much chicken feed is needed per chicken per day?”.
To summarize, the key points to remember are;
- Chicken feed accounts for about 70% of the total chicken raising costs,
- The right foods influence health, happiness, and quality of eggs,
- Chicken feed is around $30 per 50 lbs or $60 for an organic mix,
- Chicken feed can be accompanied by scraps and treats, in moderation,
- While bulk purchases save money, don’t order more than 60 days’ worth.
To learn more about feeding your chickens a nutritious diet or the best chicken feeding accessories on the market, call the Roosty’s team today!