Pelletized or Non-Pelletized Food?


In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2015
I am looking for a good source of non-gmo organic feed, yet the only thing I can find in my local stores comes in pelletized format. I can get Scratch and Peck feeds shipped from Washington, but its a little more expensive for a smaller bag.

Organic pelletized feed 30 lbs for $30 -

I am only interested in feeding my chickens the best I can get, and am not too concerned with costs.

Is there anything different about pelletized feeds that would make them a bit more inferior to actual seed/non-pelletized feeds?
We used to use pellets and got scratch and peck. At first, we only filled it for one of two coops because the other feeder wasn't empty yet. The hens from that coop were so excited for scratch and peck and would be let out to run around and would go to the other coop just to eat it often. I think the birds are all much happier with it. They by far prefer it to pellets.
I can't speak to any differences in the quality or ingredients between pellets or crumble varieties, but i have noticed a big difference in how much gets wasted. Once my hens scratch the feed out of the feeder onto the ground, they'll eat all the pellets off the ground but won't eat the crumble off the ground. When you're paying $1/lb that wasted food can add up. But all chickens are different so you may not run into this problem with your flock. :)
The way chicken feed is normally made is they gather all the ingredients and ground them to a powder. That is called mash. Mash is normally fed wet because the different ingredients can separate out due to different densities so the chickens may not get a totally balanced diet if it is fed dry. Wet mash is normally fed in controlled amounts so there isn’t any leftovers to turn sour. You can look up fermented feeds too. That’s another way to get around this problem.

To overcome this problem, the manufacturers mix the mash with water, squeeze that paste out of dies, and flash dry them. That way the ingredients stay mixed. Those are pellets. To make pellets into crumbles they lightly crush the pellets. The reason they have the different forms of the same feed is that different automatic feeder systems work with different forms. There is no difference in the nutrition whether it is mash, pellets or crumbles if the original ingredients are the same.

If you look at the labels of the two different feds you might see different ingredients. The nutrition breakdown, how much protein, salt, calcium, and other things may be different. You’ll probably see a few really weird things listed. Those are amino acids from animal protein that the chickens need but don’t get enough of from a straight grain diet. Even if animal products are used in the organic feed, those amino acids have to be added. Those amino acids are allowed by the organic rules. The restriction on animal products in organic chicken feed is that they cannot come from slaughter byproducts. Other animal products are allowed.

My suggestion is that you look at the labels and see what the analysis and ingredients are, then go with your gut. Either one should be acceptable.
Thanks for the info RidgeRunner! I think I will ultimately go with a mix of the pellets and whole seeds and grains. Diversity of food is good for everything.

@Suzi, yes I have noticed it is quite messy and they can't get the small pieces once on the coop floor. I have a semi-waste free feeder made out of a 5 gallon bucket and 45 degree 2 inch PVC bends. I am going to switch to 90 degree bends and see if it makes it completely waste free. They are slightly able to fling the food out of a shallower angle, but maybe not a 90.
The problem with seed/ grain mixtures is that the birds will select the yummy bits and leave the rest, unbalancing their diet. Pelleted feeds are totally mixed, so they can't select out the best tasting parts. High producing laying hens have very little room to cope with nutritional imbalances, because laying lots of eggs is a huge metabolic load for them to bear. "Natural" original chickens produced maybe 20 to 60 eggs per year, a huge difference. Mary
Folly is right, they will hunt and peck through a mixture of grains to get their favorites and leave the rest. If that Scratch and Peck is mixed grains you need to either limit how much you feed them at a time so they clean all of it up or limit how much you feed them of those mixed grains, probably no more than 10% of what they eat in a day just like any other treat. Diversity of foods is good but a balanced diet is more important. The pelletized stuff is a balanced diet by itself so should be most of what they eat, but 10% a day of other stuff won’t upset that balanced diet.
I limit feed allotment an make certain they have a range of particle sizes. Intact grains handily my favorite but pullets have advantages beyond already noted when feeding on ground. The feed can be consumed more rapidly with less waste. At least some birds interested in mouth feel.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom