How Much Does Chicken Feed Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 14, 2018

Chickens cannot eat just anything — they require specific types of food that can provide them the most nutrients while not harming their health.  There are different types of feed you can purchase, and each kind has its own benefits.  For example, one type of chicken feed is chicken scratch, which is another name for commercial pellets.  This product, for instance, contains several ingredients that are mashed together to form what’s known as a pellet.

Neighbourhood Chickens by Scott Woods-Fehr, on Flickr
Neighbourhood Chickens” (CC BY 2.0) by Scott Woods-Fehr

How much does chicken feed cost?

The price of chicken feed depends on the type of feed that will be purchased, the quantity and where it’s going to be purchased from  On average, a 50-pound bag of chicken feed can cost anywhere from $12 to as much as $30 per bag.  Organic pellets, for example, can cost anywhere from $28 to $32 per 50-pound bag, while a mashed up bag that can come in smaller packs can retail for $6 to $11 per bag.  According to our research, we had found the average chicken, if it were to eat one-fourth of a pound of food per day, would cost close to $0.18 per day.

If purchasing by the ton, the costs could be well within the $500 range, depending on the local market conditions.

According to Backyard Chickens, a 50-pound bag of chick starter crumbles can cost about $15 to $18, but the prices will differentiate between the organic, non-organic, medicated, non-medicated and regular feed.  The website also says that “all flock” feed, designed for older chickens, can cost about $15 to $30 per 50-pound bag; again, depending on the type and the brand.  Lastly, scratch grains can cost about $10 per 50-pound bag.

BrandAverage Price
Nature's Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles (40 pounds)$20 to $25
Producer's Pride Cracked Corn (50 pounds)$5 to $10
DuMOR Chick Starter 24% (50 pounds)$15 to $20
Producer's Pride Scratch Grain (50 pounds)$10 to $15
Purina Layena Pellets Premium Poultry Feed (50 pounds)$15 to $20
Purina Layena Crumbles Premium Poultry Feed (50 pounds)$15 to $20
Nature's Best Organic Egg Layer Pellets (40 pounds)$20 to $25
Purina Start & Grow Medicated (50 pounds)$15 to $20
Manna Pro Oyster Shell (50 pounds)$10 to $15
Nutrena NatureWise Layer 16% Crumbles (50 pounds)$15 to $20
Manna Pro Medicated Chick Starter (5 pounds)$5 to $10
Nutrena NatureWise Layer 16% Pellets$15 to $20
Purina Layena Plus Omega-3 (40 pound)$15 to $20
Nutrena NatureWise Feather Fixer (40 pound)$15 to $25



Chicken feed overview

Chickens will require carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins and protein to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  Depending on the breed, various poultry brands are on the market catering to different levels and breeds during special stages in life.

Most bags found at local supply stores will come in 50-pound packs, but you may find the occasional five-pound starter pack of a 40-pound bag.

Popular brands include DuMOR, Farmer’s Helper, Manna Pro, Nature’s Best Organic, Nutrena, Producer’s Pride and Purina.

What are the extra costs?

If a hen’s diet was deficient in calcium, for instance, then a specialized feed may be required to provide the right amount of nutrients in order for the hen to produce eggs with a good shell.

Tips to know:

Adjust the amount of feed that you give to the chickens and base it on their body condition, growth rate and production.  The amount of feed a chicken will eat will really depend on the breed.  The Leghorns, for instance, isn’t known to be big eaters, but a Bantam is known to eat more than average.  Also, the size, time of year and if it’s free range will depend on the amount needed.  Chickens that are able to free range will be able to nibble on grass here and there, whereas chickens that are locked up in a cage will be restricted to a pellet-only diet.  The same can be said about the time of the year since chickens will eat more when it’s colder out.  According to offthegridat-30.blogspot.com, the average adult chicken will eat 1/4 pound of feed per day.

For the purpose of strengthening egg shells, feed your chickens oyster shell or ground limestone since it’s rich in calcium.

Chicks younger than 10 weeks old should be fed a special starter diet due to the higher protein levels.  These starter diets can help maximize their growth, according to the Tractor Supply Company.  Once the chicks reach 10 weeks old, then it should be replaced with a grower feed, designed to help sustain growth until their maturity level is reached.

How can I save money?

The costs will go down if you purchase more than 50 pounds at a time.  These feed stores will often give you a bulk deal if you purchase by the pallet.

The Offthegridat-30.blogpost.com blog post we mentioned earlier said the cheapest way to feed chickens is by finding a farmer who allows you to clean out their grain bin for free.  Since hens don’t mind consuming the leavings, this can bring down the chicken feed costs quite a bit.

Creating your own chicken mix is also an option to consider.  This can be done by supplementing your chicken’s diet with earthworks or whey.

Shop around in your area by calling a few feed mills to see what they are offering.   Cheaper isn’t better, however, since some feed can be very low in quality.

According to The Art of Doing Stuff, fermenting your chicken feed can increase the nutrition and decrease the amount the chickens eat.

As noted above, allow your chickens to free-range as much as possible.  Aside from being able to forage around in the grass, it also helps keep them from being bored and can help kill off bugs.  If they must stay in the coop, consider throwing a pile of weeds or grass inside to supplement their diet.

Ask for scrap or bruised fruit at a local grocery store or even save the scraps from your own kitchen.  While most will have a policy against this, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Consider selling some of the extra eggs to offset the feed costs.

Growing a “chicken” garden with sprouts and fodder is a great way to keep them contained and allow them to eat.


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