30 Alternative Feed Options for Chicken Found at Home

For most people, raising chickens in the backyard is a way to become more independent. They see owning chickens as a means to produce their own food, rather than relying entirely on the grocery store. Of course, you become a little less independent once you start buying ready made chicken feed which again forces you to depend on stores and delivery chains.

Chicken is far from a picky eater. They will eat a wide variety of foods without a problem, making it easier to feed your chickens without buying chicken feed. You may be surprised at some of the things you think of as waste that can be turned into nutritious chicken feed, save a lot of money, and help you become truly food independent with your chickens.

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30 Alternative Feeds for Chicken

There is an almost unlimited amount of food that you can safely offer your chickens. This list contains just 30 of the most nutritious and readily available options that you can start feeding your chickens today to stop depending on other sources for your chicken feed.

Free Option

All foods in this category can be offered to your chickens without even touching your wallet. You already have them in abundance, and until now, you may have wasted every single one of these items, not realizing that you could turn them into food for your chickens.


1. Page Clipping – That’s right. The stuff that’s left after you mow the grass can be fed to your birds, and even nutritious for them! Nothing is cheaper than this.

2. Weeds – Whenever you decide to uproot weeds, make sure you don’t throw them away. Instead, feed them to your chickens. Most weeds are safe and nutritious for chickens.

3. Egg Shell – This may sound a bit strange, but when you eat your chicken’s egg, you can feed the shell back to your chicken. They are full of calcium which is healthy for your bird. Make sure you grind it first.

4. Table Scraps – Most families just throw away their leftovers or grind them up. Most leftovers make great chicken feed, and turning it this way is far better than letting it go to waste.

Low Cost Option

The items in this section are not free, but they are very affordable. However, they require a bit more work to set up, which is a trade-off you should make for the low cost.

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5. Animal Feed – The feed only grows soaked seeds. It is very cheap and produces a lot of feed. In fact, you can turn 50 pounds of grain into about 400 pounds of chicken feed. It takes a little work though. You’ll have to soak the seeds and water them for a week, but for about $10 or less for a 50-pound bag of oats, you get 400 pounds of feed for just $10.

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6. Fermented Grains – This is basically a faster version of animal feed. You start the same way; just soak your seeds overnight, but then the seeds are ready to be fed. You don’t have to wait 7 days to sprout. Chickens can eat them as they are, but you’ll get less food from each bag.

7. Deer Corn – Deer corn is cheap, and if you grind it, you can use it as an inexpensive way to offer cracked corn to your chickens.

Things You Can Grow

If you are looking for an additional food source, you may consider growing your chicken feed. Many crops can be easily grown and offered to your chickens as a healthy and sustainable source of feed.

chicken eat vegetables

8. Greens – Many green vegetables can be grown all year round. They can even be planted in bins indoors if you don’t have much outdoor space to use for growing chicken feed. This plant is easy to grow and makes healthy food for chickens.

9. Sunflowers – You may not think of sunflowers as food, but they definitely are for your chickens. Sunflowers do well with chicken manure as fertilizer, but you don’t have to grow them to maturity to feed chickens. You can even try making animal feed from sunflower seeds for a faster way of turning sunflower seeds into chicken feed.

10. Lupines – Lupines can grow in poor soil conditions and can be given to chickens as they grow without extra work. This is the perfect plant to grow on a plot of land that will yield nothing more.

chicken eat seeds

11. Root Vegetables – Root vegetables grow underground, so they are very resistant to winter weather, making them great plants all year round. Plus, they are insect-resistant, which makes them easier to grow. You can try carrots, beets, or parsnips, although there are many options available to you.

12. Garden Rest – You don’t need to grow special crops for your chickens. You can grow whatever food you want and feed your chickens leftovers that you don’t use! They will eat all kinds of plants, including those you decide to remove from your garden because they are not growing well.

13. Wheat – Wheat is very easy to grow and yields high yields for the amount of space required. Plus, you can use the seeds to grow fodder or more wheat.

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Stuff in Your Wardrobe

In this section, we’ll cover items you might currently have in your cupboard that could be used as chicken feed. Check the back corner of the kitchen where the light hasn’t been shining in years, you might find one of these options!

a bottle of oatmeal

14. Oatmeal – You may not want to feed your chickens sweet oatmeal, but chickens love oats, and they are packed with many nutrients for your bird, including iron, calcium, thiamine, copper, and more.

15. Seeds from Fruits – Every time you eat fruit, don’t just throw away the core and seeds. Instead, feed them to your chickens, who will happily eat them for you.

16. Cheese – Chickens love cheese, and this is a great choice for them because it contains protein, calcium, and other important nutrients.

17. Cooked Rice – Don’t give your chickens raw rice, but as long as you cook it beforehand, it can be a great feed option that’s easy to prepare, costs very little, and will likely already be in your kitchen.


18. Peanut Meal – The only downside to peanuts is that it’s possible for peanuts to affect your chicken eggs, which would be bad for anyone with a peanut allergy.

19. Flaxseed Meal – Loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats, including essential fatty acids, flaxseed meal is great for chicken feed and probably already in your home.

20. Fish and Fish Guts – If you don’t eat seafood, then you probably don’t have fish or fish guts, but if you’re a fisherman apart from raising chickens in the backyard, then the fish you catch can offer you a free way to feed your chickens. And does anyone really argue that this isn’t the most fun way to feed your birds?

fish in the pan

21. Animal Meat and Offal – When you cut meat and remove fat, you can leave the cut parts for your chicken. If you’re a hunter, then don’t waste your time as you dress up your kills; just give it to your bird. Nothing is wasted!

22. Sesame Seed Food – Cheap and readily available, sesame seeds can provide a good protein boost for your bird.

23. Legume Seeds – Loaded with protein, legume seeds can be a great treat for your flock. If you are growing legumes, be sure to give your birds the remaining seeds.

24. Earthworms – Earthworms are everywhere, and if your chickens are grazing, they most likely have eaten a lot of earthworms. While you don’t want to spend all your time looking for worms, you can build a worm farm fairly easily and have an almost endless supply of protein-rich chicken feed.

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25. Mealworms – Similar to earthworms, only much smaller. Packed with protein, it is nutritious for chickens and can be easily grown for a free, healthy supply of chicken feed.

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26. Dehydrated Eggs – Depending on how many chickens you have and how many eggs you eat, you can sometimes find yourself having too many eggs. Simply dehydrate them and feed them to your chickens as a way to get free high protein chicken feed.

27. Maggots – Nobody wants maggots, but if you find them in an old trash can or something, give them to your chickens. While humans find them disgusting, they are a delicious protein-rich snack for your bird.

28. Crickets – Crickets can be caught outside if you wish. Your chickens can eat a lot to find their own food. Of course, crickets are one of the cheapest and most readily available feeder insects, so you can either buy them or grow your own.

29. Safflower Meal – After the safflower plant is used to make vegetable oil, the leftovers are ground into safflower flour, and it is an inexpensive feeder that your chickens will swallow.

30. Roadkill – This is no joke! Remember, your bird is fine with animals and animal offal, so why not animals hit by a car? It may seem disgusting to scratch a dead animal out of the way, but hey, free feed is free feed.

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If you want to be independent with rearing chickens, then any of these 30 feed items can be used as a great alternative to commercial chicken feeds. Whether you just want to stick to the easiest options like table scraps or you’re willing to put in a bit of work to grow something yourself, you’re sure to find a few options on this list that you like. Make sure you mix it up and keep offering your chickens different items all the time so they can get a varied diet full of a wide variety of nutrients to ensure they are in peak physical condition.

Featured Image Credit: Rachel Moon, Shutterstock