What Are The Differences In The Various Types Of Feed?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Sep 3, 2011
Osteen, FL
Hi All,

Been going crazy learning about chickens the past two days... great fun. Keep reading about different types of feed but unable to determine what the differences are... pellets, crumble, mash. What are the differences... pro/con. Your help is greatly appreciated.



8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
Tallahassee, FL
pellets crumble mash are just sizing differences

Pellets are the largest, crumble middle and mash is more like powder. Often mash is served wet.

I'm sure someone with more expertise will jump in and have more to say.


In the Brooder
8 Years
Sep 5, 2011
As kizanne said, pellets are essentially mash compressed into pellet form. Crumbs are broken up partial pieces of pellets. Mash is ground powder-like.

I have fed all three -

Pellets you waste the least of. The chickens can also eat these faster, although little chicks cannot eat pellets.

Crumbs are usually alright for little chicks, and are usually available too.

Mash is alright for all ages, same as crumbs, although it is most wasteful if you spill it (they also get it caked on their beaks) They love it when you wet mash, though that is not necessary. Sometimes if they are eating really fast they can get some caught in their throat, although this has never been serious, it all goes down eventually.

Personally, I feed mash at all stages because I make my own feed, and it is tricky to pellet something, although if I could pellet my feed, I would for production hens so they can eat more faster, therefore produce more and waste less. Breeders I would personally stick with mash, it gives them something to do.


8 Years
Mar 24, 2011
How old are your chickens? Just feed them the right feed for the right age (i.e. stater, grower/raiser, and layer) the layer type feed will come in your choice of crumbles or pellets.
Some examples:



Then after 8 weeks or so you can switch to:

Then when they start laying you can switch to:

And give them some scratch and/or flock block as a treat.



9 Years
Jan 6, 2011
Upper Lake, California
I Don't see how the chicks/chickens or ducklings/ducks even eat the Start & Grow or Flock Raiser. It seems awfully hard. I was trying to smash some start & grow in a plastic bag using a hammer, what a chore that is trying to make the feed a little smaller. (Start & Grow seemed a lot bigger than Chick Starter)I Didn't want the babies to choke. ~My question is, why does Flock Raiser LOOK exactly the same as Start & Grow? or is whats in them that make them different? (I didn't read the tag yet). Thanks, ~Julie~


B & M Chicken Ranch
8 Years
Jun 17, 2011
Morristown, AZ
The difference is in the actual ingredients and some starter is for instance medicated to help your chicks along and would not be good for adult layers, Layer feed for adult hens has calcium in it that can cause issues in chicks if fed to early, flock raiser can be fed to both pullets and laying hens, but a calcium suppliment would be needed on the side for the adult hens, and so on.


Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
Starter --
A balanced feed meant as the sole ration for chicks from hatching to twelve weeks of age.
At 12 weeks of age the birds can be changed to Grower or Developer. Starter can be Medicated or Non-Medicated when Medicated it is with either Amprolium or Lasalocid. Starter is available in Mash, Crumble or Pellet form

Stater/ Grower --
A balanced feed meant as the sole ration for chicks from hatching to chickens begin to lay, this feed can be Medicated or Non-Medicated. If medicated it will be with either Amprolium or Lasalocid. Starter/ Grower is available mostly in Crumble or Pellet form.

Grower --
Feed as the sole ration to chicks 12 weeks of age as a finisher. Grower feed is meant to feed until the chickens begin to lay, then bird can be switched to a complete Laying. Most Grower feed is Non-Medicated but some are Medicated with Bacitracin. Grower is mostly available in available in Crumble or Pellet form.

Finisher -- See above for Grower

Layer --
Feed as the sole diet to laying hens maximum production of eggs. Do not feed Layer feed to poultry, which are not in production because of the high calcium levels in the diet. This is particularly true of young growing birds. Layer is available in Mash, Crumble or Pellet form.

Layer/ Breeder --
Feed as the sole diet to laying hens and breeders for maximum production and for improved hatchability. Do not feed Layer feed to poultry, which are not in production because of the high calcium levels in the diet. This is particularly true of young growing birds. Layer/ Breeder is available in Pellet form.

Scratch Grain/ Corn (Maze) --
Is mostly used as a treat and should for the most part be feed separate from there sole feed (example - there Layer feed). Scratch should not exceed 40% of there diet when feeding a high protein feed. (Sole feed 20% protein or better) You may start feeding Scratch Grain at around 12 weeks of age.
Scratch will also very in quality, nutrition, ingredients, it may be as simple as whole corn or as complex as a 14 grain mixture.

Mash --
Mash type feed is ground feed that can vary from a fine to course texture and is the lowest priced feed.

Crumble --
Crumbled feed is basically the same as a mash but it is extruded through a mill to form a pellet then crushed into a crumble.

Pellet --
Pelleted feed is basically the same as a mash but it is extruded through a mill to form a pellet.

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8 Years
Feb 19, 2011
Massachusetts, USA

While mash can be less expensive per bag, the waste can add up quickly. I prefer crumbles and pellets and skip the mash for my LF and turkey poults. Once I accidently purchased mash! I had to mix it with yogurt or other liquid to reduce waste. IMO

Lots to learn about chickens. BYC is a great place to learn and ask questions!


13 Years
Aug 12, 2009
BuCo, KS
My Coop
My Coop
They don't have teeth so are not trying to chew it. They swallow the pieces whole and let the gizzard do the work. The gizzard is a VERY tough muscle that is able to grind up food quite efficiently. You'll notice that they almost always follow an eating session with a drinking session; the water aids in breaking down the dry, hard food too.

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