Complete Guide to Chicken Feed Formulation

By Value Magazine Team on 13 May 2020 at 07:39 pm

Making your own chicken feed at home can help in cutting on the cost of purchasing chicken feed. Formulating your own chicken feed is advantageous because you will be able to control the quality. Saving on the cost and feeding your chicken with high-quality chicken feed will ensure that you maximize on profit.


Making your own quality chicken feed at home to save on costs

Feeding chicken with formulated feed  at home


Chicken feed amount to about 65% -75% of the cost of raising chicken. 

Chicken require different nutrients in varying quantities at different stages of growth.  The quantity of nutrients are also subject to the following factors:-



1. Age 

The chicken will have different nutrient requirements at different stages of growth

2. Type of chicken

Different types, strain, and breeds of chicken will require varying nutrients and feed quantities. This maybe Pure breed, indigenous (Kienyeji) chicken, hybrid chicken

3. Reproduction

The mating activity in cockrels and the laying level in hens determine the number of nutrients needed.  The feed should be formulated to  ensure optimal production at this stage

4. Level of activity

The level of activity is determined by the kind production  intensive, semi-intensive or free range

5. The health condition of the chicken
The health condition of the chicken affects the number of nutrients it needs. High levels of stress will also determine the dietary requirements.  Stress is caused by diseases, poor air quality, unfavorable temperatures, and poor litter quality

6. Purpose

Whether you are raising the chicken for meat, eggs, breeding or ornamental (pets).

7. Season

Chicken require more nutrients during cold season than hot seasons. During cold seasons, they need to keep their bodies warm.  The heat is generated during the digestion process. Some nutrients produce more heat during this process than other nutrients.

8. The energy level in chicken feed

Different food has varying amounts of energy levels. Chicken tend to feed more if the feed has low energy levels and eat less when the feed is packed with high amounts of energy

Chicken nutrient requirements

Chicken require essential nutrients for good growth and maximum production.  These are:-

1. Fats

Chicken use fats for energy since fats have high energy density.  A type of fat known as linoleic acid is known to improve on the egg size. Chicken need between 3% to 5% fat in their feed. 

2. Carbohydrates

Chicken require energy for all the activity, growth and production.  The most common way for the chicken to  get carbohydrates is through feeding on grains

3. Proteins and amino acids

Proteins and amino acids are needed for muscle growth, maintenance, and development of egg protein

4. Vitamins

Chicken require vitamins are involved in all biological functions of the body.  They are required in small quantities.  Vitamins are essential for growth, health, and production

5. Water

This is the most important requirement since it is directly correlated to production. It is needed for absorption of nutrients, digestion of feed, body temperature regulation and excretion of waste. Water intake in chicken should be double the amount of feed taken, in weight.

6. Minerals

Chicken need minerals for body processes such as skeletal formation, health, metabolic activity and maintaining the body’s acid-base balance.


African woman with grains - maize


Ingredients for making chicken feed


It is advisable to use locally available ingredients for your chicken feed. In addition to using ingredients that are in season, this will help you further cut the costs of production. Farmers can grow or produce their own ingredients.  Care must be taken while producing, handling and storing the ingredients, so as to avoid contamination. This will lead to a lower nutritive value of the feed and sometimes diseases


Cereal grains are used as the source for carbohydrates (energy). The most commonly used cereal grain in chicken feed is maize. Others are wheat, sorghum, and barley. Depending on availability, it is advisable to use the grains that are in season and at the right price.  Please pay attention when changing grains so that they do not cause upsets in the digestive systems.  This might affect productivity. Changing grains in chicken feed should be done gradually.

Some farmers have been known to grow their own grains in order to cut on costs. Whether you grow your own or buy.  Make sure they are stored well, as poor storage and handling might lead to lower energy levels.


Fats and oils are used to provide energy to the chicken. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, hence fats in chicken feed are used as “carriers” for these vitamins. Fats provide Linoleic acid, which is essential to chicken,  especially in layers where it has been known to improve on egg size. Fat and oils in chicken feed are derived from animal and vegetable sources

Animal fat sources include fishmeal (Omena), lard and tallow while vegetable sources come from cottonseed cake, sunflower cake/seeds, canola, rapeseed, and soya.  

Animal and Vegetable Protein

Proteins sources for chicken feed are derived from animal protein and vegetable protein

Animal protein comes in form of fishmeal (Omena), meat meal,  bone meal, chicken meal, feather meal, and bone meal. Uttermost care should be taken when using the animal byproducts (meat meal,  bone meal, chicken meal, feather meal, and bone meal), to avoid diseases

Vegetable protein is usually a by-product of oilseed plants whereby after the oil is extracted, the remains are used/sold as chicken feed ingredients.  These include sunflower, soybean, canola etc. They come in form of cake or meal. These are cottonseed cake, soya meal, and sunflower cake.


While some minerals are found in other chicken feed ingredients, minerals supplements are usually added to the feed to ensure that all the mineral requirements are met.  These are purchased as mineral premixes and added to the feed.


Just like minerals, vitamins can be found naturally in some feed ingredients.  To ensure that all required vitamins are provided for, vitamin premixes need to be purchased and added to the feed.

Chicken Feed Formulation

When making chicken feed, the digestible crude protein formula is used.  Without going into the math, the digestible crude formula is based on the total percentage amount of protein in the chicken feed ingredients.  Each chicken feed ingredient has different amounts of digestible crude protein. 

Layers and broilers require a different amount of proteins at different levels of growth. Let us look at specific examples based on making 70kg of chicken feed.  


The examples below are adapted fromThe Organic Farmer Magazine (2015).

Making a 70 kg chick mash (1 to 4 weeks)

Growing chicks require feed with Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) of between 18 to 20 percent. The following formulation can be used to make a 70 kg bag of layers chick mash:


  • 31.5kg of whole maize
  • 9.1kg of wheat bran
  • 7.0kg of wheat pollard
  • 16.8kg of sunflower (or 16.8 kg of linseed)
  • 1.5kg of fishmeal
  • 1.75 kg of lime
  • 30g of salt
  • 20g of premix

Amino acids

  • 70g of tryptophan
  • 3.0g of lysine
  • 10g of methionine
  • 70g of Threonine
  • 50g of enzymes
  • 60g of coccidiostat
  • 50g of toxin binder

Making a 70 kg bag of growers' mash (4 to 8 weeks)

Growers (pullets or young layers) should be provided with feed having a protein content of between 16 and 18 percent. Such feed makes the young layers to grow fast in preparation for egg laying:

  • 10kg of whole maize
  • 17kg of maize germ
  • 13kg of wheat pollard
  • 10kg of wheat bran
  • 6kg of cottonseed cake
  • 5kg of sunflower cake
  • 3.4kg of soya meal
  • 2.07kg of lime
  • 700g of bone meal
  • 3kg of fishmeal

Additives: 14g of salt, 1g of coccidiostat, 18g of Pre-mix, 1g of zinc bacitracin,  7g of mycotoxin binder. 

Making a 70 kg bag of layers’ mash (8 weeks and above)

  • 34kg of whole maize
  • 12kg of Soya
  • 8kg of fishmeal
  • 10kg of maize bran, rice germ or Wheat Bran
  • 6kg of lime

Amino acids

  • 175g premix
  • 70g lysine
  • 35g methionine
  • 70g Threonine
  • 35g tryptophan
  • 50g toxin binder

Layer feed should contain a Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) content of between 16-18 percent. The feed should contain calcium (lime) for the formation of eggshells (laying hens that do not get enough calcium will use the calcium stored in their own born tissue to produce eggshells). Layer feed should be introduced at 18 weeks.

Formulating a 70 kg bag of broiler feed

Broilers have different feed requirements in terms of energy, proteins, and minerals during different stages of their growth. It is important that farmers adapt feed rations to these requirements for maximum production. Young broilers have a high protein requirement for the development of muscles, feathers, and other body organs. As the broilers grow, their energy needs for fattening up increase while their protein requirements decrease. They, therefore, require high protein content in their starter rations than in the grower and finisher rations. Broilers should have feed that has between 22 -24 percent DCP.

The following guidelines can help the farmer to make the right feed at each stage of growth:

Preparing broiler growers feed (70 kg)

  • 10kg of whole maize
  • 16.7kg of maize germ
  • 13.3kg of wheat pollard
  • 10kg wheat bran
  • 6kg of cottonseed cake
  • 4.7kg of sunflower cake
  • 3kg of fishmeal
  • 2kg of lime
  • 3.4kg of soya meal
  • 40g of bone meal
  • 10g of grower PMX
  • 5g of salt
  • 5g of coccidiostat
  • 5g of Zinc bacitracin

Broiler starter feed (1-4 weeks)

  • 40kg of whole maize
  • 12kg of fishmeal (or Omena)
  • 14kg of soya bean meal
  • 4kg of lime
  • 70g of premix

Amino acids

  • 35g of lysine
  • 35g of Threonine

Formulating a 70 kg bag for Kienyeji/Indigenous/Village chicken (kienyeji mash formula).

  • Whole maize = 34 kg
  • Soya bean = 12 kg
  • Omena = 8 kg
  • Maize/wheat bran = 10 kg
  • Lime = 6 kg


NOTE: For farmers who have more than 500 chickens it is advisable to make 1 tonne of feed at once (there are 14 bags of feed in one tonne). To make 1 tonne of feed, multiply each of the ingredients by 14. Ensure that all the feed you make will last for one month and no longer – this ensures the feed remains fresh and safe for chickens. Any feed that lasts more than one month may deteriorate in quality and can affect your chickens.

Substituting Maize for other Grains

During some seasons, the price of maize or other grains goes up.  In order to cut on costs, it is advisable to substitute maize for another grain. Maize and other grains e.g wheat, sorghum, oats primary function in feed formulations is to provide energy(carbohydrates). 

Grain energy levels for feed formulations
Gross and metabolizable energy of cereals


The good thing is that these grains have nearly the same energy levels, so when substituting you can replace maize with another grain in the same quantity. 

When substituting your chicken feed formulation ingredient, it is advisable to make a small batch, then test on a small number of birds. Observe their performance indices. The performance indices include weight gain and the number of eggs. If the performance drops, you can tweak your formulation until you attain the ideal performance. 

Where to buy chicken feed ingredients

As indicated earlier, you should use locally available chicken feed ingredients. They are usually cheaper when they are in season. Below is a list of chicken feed ingredient suppliers in Kenya.

Your local agrovet
Check your local agrovet shop for premixes, minerals, and vitamins

Essential Drugs Ltd (minerals and premixes)
Location: River Bed Park, Along Mutongoni Road, off Mombasa Rd at Athi River
Contacts: Tel. +254 20 2632701/02 ,+254722781620, +254714586969

Tarime suppliers (minerals, premixes, fish meal. soya meal and all other ingredients mentioned above )
Location: City stadium roundabout, Nairobi, Young Traders Godown Behind Tuskys supermarket
Telephone: 0729 099 550 / 0712 813 877 / 0736789131

If you supply the ingredients for chicken feed, please let us know using the comment form below so that we can include you in this list

How to test the quality of your chicken feed

It is important to do trial batches first before making chicken feed in large quantities. This allows you to test the quality of your chicken feed. An easy way to test is:-

  1. Isolate a number of chicken.
  2. Feed them with your trial batch.
  3. Observe their performance. Broilers will add weight fast and layers will improve on egg production (the benchmark is at least one egg every 27 hours).

You can also have your feed tested in a laboratory.  Kenya agricultural and livestock research organization (KALRO) has a testing laboratory in Naivasha. You can contact them using the contacts on their website 


How to Mix Chicken Feed

It is advisable to mix the macronutrients (amino acids) first. After you can add them to the rest of the ingredients and mix. 

If you are making a small batch, a shovel will do. However,  for larger quantities, a shovel is not recommended as it does not evenly distribute the nutrients. 

For larger quantities, use a drum mixer. Drum Mixers are either powered or manual.

You can get one fabricated by a Jua Kali fundi or you can purchase a commercial one.



Design for manual chicken feed drum mixer 

Chicken feed mixer design
Manual chicken drum mixer design


Drum mixer
manual chicken drum mixer design 2

Simple manual feed mixer in action. Works for mixing 20kgs to 40kgs of feed at a time


Commercial chicken mixers are also available in the market, They use power or fuel (diesel) to power their mortar.  

Vertical chicken feed mixer
Vertical chicken feed mixer


Kienyeji (Indigenous) Chicken Feeding Program. 

Many kienyeji chicken farmers wonder about how much feed to give their Kienyeji flock per day. Below is the recommended Kienyeji chicken feed consumption chart. 

Age (in Weeks) Feed per Bird per Day
1 Week 12-15  Grams
2 Weeks 15-21 Grams
3 Weeks 21-35 Grams
4 to 6 Weeks 35-50 Grams
7 to 8 Weeks 55-60 Grams
16-27 Weeks 68-80 Grams
28 Weeks 100 Grams


COMING SOON: We will be updating this article to include: 

  1. Storage
  2. Daily rations for layers and broilers at different stages of growth
  3. Other practices in preparing chicken feed e.g sprouting grains and fermentation

To get notified when we update,  please leave us your email address below:-


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Very informative


thanks am great full for the information.

Very informative

Like equipment advert part

Great information. . Very useful

A good effort

Very informative, thanks

I like everything about this informative article , very useful indeed for anybody who wants to venture into commercial poultry rearing.
Maurice Ouma.

Very helpful

Simple and informative. Very helpful for beginners venturing into backyard poultry farming.

Very informative and well explained. Thanks

great work

About kienyeji,does it mean I feed the chicks the same type of feed as of grown chicken?

This is very useful information for poultry farmers. Its more economical to formulate chicken feeds with locally available materials than purchasing.

Hello, this was quite informative. Where can I get a manual mixer? I stay at Mlolongo.

Thanks for reading. You can get a welder to fabricate for you the mixer. They are several welding places in Mlolongo

You buy the material, they do the work. We have updated the article to include a video of a manual feed mixer in action. 

Thanks for the information. And I would appreciate updates in my email

Thanks . Am from uganda I want to start a small hatchery for indigenous chickens , I have written down feed mixers

Very informative

What about the improved kienyeji birds. You have not discussed about their feed formulations and ingredients used.

Quite resourceful. Keep up with the updates

Quite informative.Thank you

Very informative..what about minerals and vitamins premixes for indigenous chicken?

Good and great precise informative information . Thumbs up

Thanks for the good information about chicken feed formulation what is the different between whole maize and maize germ can i use one rather than using both

This is good stuff. Continue educating farmers on best practices on poultry farming

Very informative for upcoming poultry /chicken farmers.

Very enlightening information. I appreciate knowledge added. Keep up

Very good formulation feed I love that keep it off

Hi,am new I want to start kienyeji chicken business, your info is very informative, thank you.

Very helpful information. Thank you

i just want to know more about hydroponic folders and BSF inclusion in feeding poultry

I have gone through it though not yet practically finished with the confirmation of the feeds

Thank you very much by kagelelo maokha kenosi

Very useful, thank you for this information

Thank you very much for the information.

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By Value Magazine Team

Value Magazine was founded in 2018 by Mutuku Ndeti, a farmer with interests in poultry, horticulture, and fruit farming. You can follow him on twitter here. The goal of Value Magazine is to offer beneficial content on agribusiness, value addition, manufacturing, and productivity.  We believe not only in producing but also adding value to the product. 

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