What do we feed them when commercial massproduced petro-feeds go away?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 26, 2009
Ripton, Vermont

At the tail of another thread I asked,

I can only wonder what our grandmothers around the world (genuflect now) did, most of whom did not have access to specialty feeds and the entire fragile chain of dependencies (petrochemical, cheap transport) that get this mash or that crumble from perhaps China to your 'local' agway.

I'm looking for a formula for home-made chickenfeed.

Just that. In my opinion (I hope I'm wrong), Peak Oil is going to make it difficult or impossible to obtain the specialty starter/grower/supermash which are 100% dependent on petrochemicals. From the Monsantoseeds, through production and then being trucked to distributors, then busted up and re-trucked to the local ag store.

Read a wonderful booklet on raising chickens published by Backwoods Home (www.backwoodshome.com) and they normally have a wealth of experience and great ideas... but when it came to food, they repeated the usual starter/grower/superdooperchickpooper schtick without variation.

So what did people do for feed a few generations ago, before the age when we became so bathed in cheap & easy petrol, ready to sacrifice our children in wars to keep the oil flowing, and constructed fragile dependencies everywhere (not even looking for alternatives) as if it was going to last forever?

For example, I ordered welded-wire steel fencing, posts and other materials to finish our coop and chicken run. I was quoted one price, had to wait for the new shipment from China, and on pickup found that the prices had doubled. And that's just in the space of a month.

So, do we give up our hobby of pet chickens, because it's too much of an indulgence, and just buy whatever's at the supermarket (cheaper in the short run)? Or spend the quickly-devaluing currency as fast as possible, against the day when the supermarket shelves will be empty because the trucks have stopped coming?

Please don't get too hung up on my opinions; I take no pleasure in them and hope that Tim Geithner is right and I am wrong. If you want to know more, Dmitry Orlov explains it better:


Rob in Vermont


11 Years
Nov 22, 2008
God's Country, Michigan's UP
Check out your local feedmill. They may make their our mash; mine does. it contains cracked corn, wheat, oats, millet, some commerical feed - not much though - and varies other seeds (i forgot exactly which ones). I've been feeding my flock this for over a year. My FIL told me about it and he's been using it for years. His girls are beautiful, laying tons of eggs, and very happy. So ae mine once they got used to it. see what your feedmill can do for you.
Good luck!!

p.s. its cheaper then the commerical feed too
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11 Years
Jan 16, 2009
Central PA
I agree that we are way too hung up on these "feeds" and honestly you don't truly know what's in them. I feed mine lots of oats, corn, wheat, grass, weed seeds, worms, cut up banana skins, carrot skins, etc. They are no less healthy from it. The old timers in my area laugh at these feeds! They also can't believe the younger people can't see what is coming to our country. I see it. I'm preparing. Oh and by the way, it holds true for the pine shavings, too. I mean, did people go out and buy pine shavings 200 years ago? Very doubtful. My daughter and I have found that just dried grass works.


10 Years
Feb 17, 2009
this is a good question and i have no problems with your opinions. i still don't see how china can produce and ship a product at a lower price than home grown but that's another topic. i suppose if you have the space there are many crops that could be grown almost year round but that would require seed stock or perenial crops.
BTW, copper pipe went up 5 % this week after falling all winter and spring.


Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 14, 2008
North Phoenix
My Coop
During the summer, my girls ALWAYS get grass clippings and they eat them up, FAST!!! One of their favorite foods!


11 Years
Jun 10, 2008
My slice of Heaven on Earth...
What an excellent question and scary to boot. I have actually even asked this on the level of the food I give my dogs. I did not like what I read as far as dogfood goes and how there is a clear rise in pet related diseases since we became conditioned on ffeding our pets manufactured kibble. I will not have it. My dogs are now on RAW food, meats, bones and veggies/fruits. The dogs of yesteryear never ate as much grains as they do today and the VET industry has never been more prosperous...correlation?
Sorry about my rant..
I think it is scary that we don't know what goes into our chickens feed, because essentially we eat it, whether in egg form or chicken on our diningtable. I would love to feed my girls and boys natural feed, but don't know were to get it at an affordable price. Right now they are on Layena and I think that is made in the US, but I don't know for sure..they also freerange as much as I can let them.


Fat Matt's Poultry Farm
10 Years
Feb 23, 2009
Hayesville, NC
Here is a recipe that I have used in the past:

Rhonda's Whole Grain Chicken Feed Recipe

That said, here is the recipe that I devised in '99 and have been improving with additions, but using the ingredients in more or less the same ratio since 1999. Note that all items are whole grains, and certified organic. If you are looking for the cheapest feed, this isn't it. If you are looking for a healthy, natural feed for your flock, this is one way to go!

*** It's not necessary to follow this recipe exactly... just make sure your birds are getting enough protein, which is predominant in the hard red wheat and the legumes. Free-range birds usually find plenty of protein from bugs, etc.

2 parts whole corn (in winter this is increased to 3 or 4 parts)
3 parts soft white wheat
3 parts hard red winter wheat
1 part hulled barley
1 part oat groats
1 part sunflower seeds (in winter this is increased to 2 parts)
1 part millet
1 part kamut
1 part amaranth seeds
1 part split peas
1 part lentils
1 part quinoa
1 part sesame seeds
1/2 part flax seeds
1/2 part kelp granules
free choice of granite grit
free choice of oyster shell

I store the above items in 6 bins; the corn in one, both types of wheat are mixed in the 2nd bin, barley in the 3rd, oat groats in the 4th, sunflower seeds in the 5th, and the remaining seeds and grains are mixed into the 6th bin. I leave the granite and oyster shell in the bags they come in. I then scoop out what I need into a 5 gallon bucket, and pour back and forth from one bucket to another until mixed well.


Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Regardless of whether or not you buy in to peak oil, I think it is VERY important to not be dependent on feed companies.

I have been trying to find way to get my ducks off of commercial feed, but since I live on a small suburban lot, I have limitations.

What I can do is use my freezer and garden beds to provide as much food as possible. Last winter, thawed out shredded, frozen zucchini is what my babies got every morning for quite a few weeks. They also like thawed out frozen kale, bok choy and pumpkin.

I have been trying to find old time recipes on line and I am also trying to source field peas, alfalfa pellets, etc... Unfortunately there are no feed mills in my area and local feed stores are nothing more than resellers of bags of stuff. They have very little knowledge of nutrition other than what the manufacturers print in a brochure.

Here are some interesting links...
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Garden Gal

10 Years
Apr 11, 2009
What a GREAT thread!!! We got into chickens for the sole purpose of becoming more self-sufficient due to current economic trends, and this question has been on my mind. I KNOW our grandparents didn't run down to the local Feed & Seed, but had not gotten much farther in my thought process than that. Great info folks!

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