Chicken Feed Test (experiment)



This post on chicken feed test is a short supplementary article to complement my YouTube video “Chicken Feed Test”.

I wanted to further explain the test and results for the benefit of anyone who is just visiting and hasn't yet seen the video and for those who are just interested in the reasoning behind the making of the video or want further explanation on the results.

Chickens under ferns

The video

Firstly, I had been meaning to set-up and run this simple chicken feed test for awhile just for my own amusement to see how my chickens would react to several different feeds concentrated in the one area but separate. I wanted to see which food they would flock to if presented with different feed stations and which feed they'd be less keen on when given the choice of others nearby.

Then, I thought capturing the test and results on camera would be a fun and entertaining thing to do so I decided to film it.

The test (experiment)

I selected what I felt were products commonly fed to chickens both commercial and non. However, for a practical sense I couldn't just place dozens of different feed products down for the test or the choice and amount of feed would be overwhelming and therefore the results would be somewhat confusing.

So, I tried to match the feed choices and amounts to the number of chickens, current feeds (things they are used to eating), and feeds most people would know. Here are the feeds used in the test from L to R as seen in the video:


  • Mixed grain – The mixed grain used in the test is a commercial purpose mix designed to be used as a complete feed for chickens; meaning, if that is all they get to eat then it's fine because this mix is supposed to contain all the ingredients necessary to maintain a healthy laying hen.

  • Lettuce – A supplementary feed I give occasionally to my hens (naturally, chickens can't just live off lettuce alone) nevertheless, I still wanted to see how lettuce would perform against other feeds as a choice.

  • Chicken pellets – Another complete feed and probably the most common commercial feed fed to chickens domestically and also in farming. Pelletised chicken feed is the easiest type of feed for chicken owners to handle: it's easy to store, works really well in automatic feeders (when other feeds can clog), and it's cheap. But, what do my free range chickens actually think of chicken pellets? I already had my suspicions of what my chickens thought of pelletised feed and I wanted to test this once and for all.

  • Bread – Again, bread is one of those supplementary “treat feeds” for my hens. Too much bread isn't good for hens because most bread has high levels of salt, plus it is too refined and just as refined food is bad for us in high amounts it is the same for chickens.

  • Quail feed – Quail feed is quite similar to chicken crumbles and I used this feed in lieu of crumbles because I already had quail feed on hand rather than going out and buying a special bag of crumbles just for the test. Just like crumbles resemble crushed chicken pellets, quail feed is a similar size (smaller than regular pellets) and have a high percentage of protein. It must be said, I don't intend to feed my chickens a diet of quail feed (nor should anyone) but it was a good substitute for chicken crumbles for testing purposes and the results could influence me buying more crumbles in the future.

  • Layer mash – Almost identical to mixed grain, layer mash is a complete feed for laying hens made with grains, which have been crushed and ground.


Hens are inherently greedy animals with a short intestinal tract so they do enjoy eating regularly (they have to). Even though I have feed in the chicken pen for the hens to freely eat, the girls were very eager to get out and attack the special feeding stations I had prepared.

Grains – Surprisingly, the chickens went for the whole grain and layer mash first. I thought the hens would go for the bread first because when given to them as a treat they readily fight over the last crumb; however, they were happy to initially overlook the bread for the grains.

Bread & quail feed – The bread was soon eaten though, and the chickens seemed to be evenly distributed between the bread and quail feed as the equal third choice. As I was using the quail feed for a crumble substitute, I could safely say my chickens would have enjoyed the crumbles just as much.

Lettuce – My chickens like lettuce (I already knew that) and although they ate all the lettuce I had on the plate, they still overlooked this feed as the 5th choice out of 6.

Chicken pellets – Out of all the feeds presented to the chickens the least favourite was the chicken pellets. My best guess as to why my chickens don't like chicken pellets is the look and size. I don't think chicken pellets look particularly natural to a hen for a start and most chicken pellets are quite large so I wonder if swallowing them is a “put-off” for some hens.

Smaller sized chicken pellets are available; however, they are not readily sold by most stockists and are therefore difficult to buy. I am keen to get some soon and see if the smaller sized chicken pellets are better received than the standard large ones.

In the end the results looked like this:


  • 1st – Whole grain complete chicken feed

  • 2nd – Chicken layer mash complete feed

  • 3rd – Quail/crumble feed tied with the bread

  • 4th – The lettuce

  • 5th – Chicken pellet complete feed


The chicken feed test may have been a light hearted bit of fun and entertainment; nevertheless, I still did learn from the activity. They say chickens can't taste food like us humans but regardless they sure know what they like and what they don't.

My flock has come from different backgrounds and breeders yet they all have very similar feed preferences and I am certainly not going to persist with feeding my hens products they aren’t keen on because it leads to waste and left over feed just attracts baddies like vermin and other unwanted creatures.

Therefore, I'll be taking note of my chicken feed test and using the information to keep my girls happy and the eggs flowing!

You may also like to read Chicken Feed for Laying Hens for an indepth article on types of feed.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM



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