Pellet vs Crumble; Feed Brands

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Nicchick326, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Nicchick326

    Nicchick326 New Egg

    Jan 4, 2017
    Hello everyone!

    In doing some research on the route to take regarding food for our incoming birds, I was wondering what you all prefer. I keep reading that chickens tend to prefer the crumble types, but that they waste much easier, thus I'm leaning more toward a pellet. I've noticed starter feeds seem to mostly come as a crumble, has anyone had issues beginning this way then moving to a pellet as they age?

    I am also looking for insight on quality food brands. For personal reasons, I do not feed any of my animals Purina brand anything, so I won't treat my chickens any differently. I am not necessarily looking for strictly "organic" (but I am open to it), I am primarily looking for something considered a bit more natural, & I'd prefer unmedicated. My main concern is no unnecessary fillers, etc. I visited my local Rural King the other day & found their selection to be lacking, which surprised me a bit! Have you all started with 1 brand as chicks, & stuck with that brand, or is it ok to switch it up? I am unsure how sensitive chickens are to this, as we have other pets that have been!

    Thanks so much!!
  2. mich9510

    mich9510 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 21, 2016
    Southwest PA
    I think it depends on how much you want to spend. I use New Country Organics. Its a soy free whole grain chicken feed. Its expensive though. A 50# bag of broiler feed is 28.50. I have to have it shipped though because no storestores sell it around here. That brings the total to $48 per 50 # bag. Scratch and Peck is similar but I have found it to be even more expensive with shipping. Its a shame but the feed mills in my area don't make whole grain chicken feed. I use whole grain because I feel like its easier to ferment. We go through about 5 lbs of feed per day. It is a lot when a 50# bag of pellets at factor supply is $20 (organic). since were feeding chickens that in turn feed us its worth it IMO. Welcome to BYC and while you're researching chicken feeds, do a search on fermented feeds (FF). I think FF is great for chickens and also helps to reduce waste.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  3. Nicchick326

    Nicchick326 New Egg

    Jan 4, 2017
    Awesome info, thank you! I'll read up on FF. I noticed our local TSC carries organic brands, but most of my online research into natural feeds is yielding results for feed brands not typically carried in stores, so I'm facing shipping charges as well. I'm ok with it, however, because I figure what they eat is in turn what me & my family eat!
    1 person likes this.
  4. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    It shouldn't be a problem going from one form of feed to another, though expect a little confusion for a day or two when you switch. Chicks generally get crumble (since it's tiny). I wanted grower in pellet form but was unable to find organic grower pellets so I went to a mash (Scratch & Peck). Now I'm on Payback organic layer pellets - they don't like it nearly as much as the mash but chickens aren't like reptiles where they'll starve themselves, so after a day of protest they're eating like normal again, just with a lot less mess (they were throwing everything from the mash that they didn't want, onto the floor).

    Once it warms up again I'll resume using the mash for fermented feed and the pellets as the free choice feed.
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK

    If you are getting incubator hatched chicks to rear in a brooder, you would be best advised to get medicated chick starter. It is only medicated with a anti coccidiostat, which basically helps to prevent them from getting coccidiosis....which is a killer. Broody hen hatched and reared chicks will usually be fine with none medicated starter because their system is exposed gradually and they start to pick up resistance to coccidia from day one. Chicks brooded indoors are much more at risk from it, so medicated is better. In my opinion it is better to prevent an outbreak of coccidiosis than have to deal with one, as it can kill many and quickly. If you really don't want to use medicated starter and your chicks are not going to be raised by a broody hen, then I would advise that you keep some Corid in your first aid kit, so that you have it ready to use at the first sign of coccidiosis. I have a small bottle that was designed for treating pigeons (normally it is large cattle treatment containers of it in the USA I believe)

    Chicks are started on crumb because pellets are too large for them to eat. I use a pelleted feed once they are 6-8 weeks old. You can ferment it if you wish or feed it dry. The advantage over a mash is that there is much less waste. In my opinion, there is no point feeding them a formulated feed in mash form if they are just going to pick their favourite bits out and waste the rest. You will lose a lot of the nutritional value like that. Yes there will be some powder left in the bottom of the feeder when they have eaten all the pellets but this can be added to the fermented feed bucket or just mixed to a paste with water and fed back to them as a treat, so no waste at all with it. Not only do I hate waste around the feeder just because it is waste but it also attracts rats and wild birds that can spread diseases. Feeding a mash usually leaves an area of wasted fine particle food around the feeder that gets trampled in and sometimes starts to mould in damp climates.

    You can also ferment chick crumb, so in essence, if you ferment they will not be any noticeable difference when you switch to grower or layer. The basic components of all are the same, just the proportions like protein and calcium are slightly different. You can even keep them on grower their whole lives and just provide a source of calcium (like crushed oyster shell) on the side for them to help themselves to as they need it.

    I have too many chickens and too low an income to be able to feed organic...and as you will find there is much less choice when it comes to organic, but my chickens usually get to free range my yard and paddocks and muck heap daily (we are on lock down for avian flu at the moment so currently no ranging and my girls and boys are not happy!), so I figure that offsets it a bit.

    Good luck with your chicks when you get them. I'm sure you will love keeping chickens. So many people under estimate how attached you can get to them.

    Best wishes

    2 people like this.
  6. katieuppi

    katieuppi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2017
    Pacific Northwest

    If you have access to an Azure Standard drop site, they have Scratch and Peck-no shipping cost.
  7. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Chickens will likely spend more time feeding when given crumble / mash as opposed to pellets. It reflects, to a greater extent, the amount of time they would "naturally" spend finding / eating food. In situations where birds are confined to the coop / small runs (e.g. severe weather) feeding pellets can satiate their desire to forage sooner than if they were fed crumble and can contribute to displacement behaviours (e.g. feather pecking).

    I'm not suggesting that this should be an overriding variable in your decision-making, but something to bear in mind, particularly during the winter months.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I will tell you what I do: I simply buy the cheapest feed out there. However, I insist that my feed be relatively fresh. There are only 2 feed stores in my area, and I have on a number of occasions walked out of the store, and gone to their competitor to purchase my feed because the first store had old feed on the shelves. I've seen feed sitting in a store that is 3 months old. A well known poultry feed expert states that by the time feed is 42 days past the mill date, it is well on it's way to becoming rancid. I simply refuse to pay good money for stale feed. I respect that you want to buy high end feed, and that's fine. But, I will suggest, that no matter what brand of feed you buy, you consider fermenting it so your birds can get the very best nutrition out of it. Fermentation provides an incredible amount of benefit. You can click on the FAQ article at the bottom of my signature to get lots of information on the benefit as well as the how to. As for using medicated feed: a good many of us never use medicated feed, and have never had issues with coccidiosis. I've heard all of the arguments, including from feed store employees who insist that I must buy medicated feed, or I'll be killing my chicks. I have walked out of the store without buying also when I get tired of that song and dance. One store that did not carry unmedicated feed 2 years ago started carrying it last year. Amazing that they changed their song from "you'll kill your chicks" to... "yeah... ok... we'll stock it..." So, make your own informed decision re: use of Amprolium medicated feed. (Amprolium is a Thiamine blocker) Last I heard, Thiamine is an essential vitamin. You can benefit your chick's immune systems by giving them a plug of sod from your yard, and using fermented feed.

    Re: pellets: definitely less waste compared to crumble. However, FF = no waste, better nutrient utilization = lower feed bill with improved flock health.
  9. Personally I buy the Best Chicken feed I can buy.... Mine is all locally milled here.....
    Chickens require good feed to preform as we expect them too...

    I never switch brands and as you the thread starter....Purina is never fed to my pets either.....

    Best of luck in your search for a good feed!

  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Chicks need a crumble rather than pellets, then later pellets are fine. FRESH feed is most important! Check your local feed stores and see what's within three weeks of production, rather than the old stuff, and buy that. Local feed mills won't be producing pelleted feed, because the machinery is expensive, so they will usually only have mash. Seed mixes tend to be eaten unevenly, so that's not so good. Also, Purina pet food is separate from the livestock division. They make good livestock feed, and if it's fresh at your local store, consider it. Organic is nice, but much more expensive, and to actually do organic, read up on the requirements; it's not so easy! I'm not sure what you mean by 'fillers' in chicken feed; it's all there for a reason, to produce a balanced diet. Mary

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