Egg laying hens need a diet specifically for their needs. The chicken needs enough nutrition to meet all her own dietary needs and remain healthy, as well as extra nutrition to produce healthy eggs. Layer feed should be formulated to keep the chicken healthy, and often has added ingredients specifically to enhance the quality of the eggs. Here are some of the top chicken feeds for egg layers.
Egg Layer Chicken Feed Mentioned In This Article
Reviews of The Best Chicken Feed For Egg Layers (Top Pick)
In this section you’ll find reviews and a much closer look 5 of my favorite brands of chicken feed that I believe are the best option for your egg laying hens.
1. Manna Pro Layer Pellets
The Manna Pro Layer Pellets contain all the nutrition that laying hens need. They have not less than 16% protein, along with essential nutrients like lysine, calcium, fiber, and ash, with ingredients that are certified organic and non GMO. The convenient pellets are designed for mature hens, starting at about 16 weeks, before they begin laying.
This 30 pound bag is ideal for backyard flocks, and its produced by Manna Pro, a company with an excellent reputation for healthy, nutritious, high quality animal feed.
- Great source of complete nutrition
- High in protein
- Certified organic and non-GMO ingredients
- Convenient pellet feed
- Pellets may be too large for some feeders
- More perishable than some layer feed, so it’s best to purchase in smaller quantities, depending on your flock size
2. Kaytee Laying Hen Diet
The Kaytee Laying Hen Diet has 16% protein with a balanced amino acid profile for excellent nutrition for laying hens. It has probiotics, lysine, antioxidants, and vitamins. Flax seeds are a great source of Omega 3 acids, and marigold extract creates vivid egg yolks. It is a vegetarian formula, from Kaytee, a leading creator of high quality bird foods.
- High in protein
- Full of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients
- Rich in calcium for strong shells and marigold for vibrant yolks
- Flax provides eggs that are higher in omega-3s
- Not certified organic or non-GMO
- Pellets may be a bit large for smaller chickens
3. Scratch and Peck Feeds Non-GMO and Organic Layer Feed
The Scratch and Peck Feeds Non-GMO and Organic Layer Feed is ideal for chickens, ducks, and other waterfowl. It is available in 16% or 18% protein formulations, so you can increase the protein in their diet during molting and at other times. Protein in this feed comes from peas and fish, and it is free of soy and corn.
This feed is certified organic and verified GMO-free, as well as being Animal Welfare Approved and locally, sustainably grown. The grains are whole, raw, and unprocessed, and grown and milled in the Pacific Northwest. It has a shelf life of about 6 months.
Scratch and Peck feeds is a certified Animal Welfare Approved B corporation, devoted to sustainability, accountability, and transparency. Because this feed is made of whole grains, it is ideal for fermenting, which improved the bioavailability of the nutrients in the food, and instructions for how to ferment the feed can be found on the company’s website.
- Available with 16% or 18% protein
- High quality whole grains and seeds
- Organic, non-GMO, animal welfare certified
- Soy and corn free, with high quality ingredients
- Produced by a certified B corporation for positive social and environmental impact
- Ideal for fermentation
- Packaging is environmentally friendly
- Produces more fines than pelletized food, so you may need to mix fines with other foods in order for your chickens to get the complete nutrition in the bag.
4. Purina Layena Premium Layer Feed Crumbles
The Purina Layena Premium Layer Feed Crumbles has 16% protein, and is high in calcium and all the other nutrients a laying hen needs. This formula has trace minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, prebiotics, and probiotics for a research-backed healthy layer feed. Marigold extract produces vibrant yolks, while oyster shells give high quality calcium over longer periods than limestone. This feed has no animal byproducts or fillers, and no artificial preservatives. It uses freshly-ground grains from North America.
- Science-backed formula
- Complete nutrition
- Natural marigold extract and oyster shells produce high quality, hard-shelled eggs with vibrant yolks
- No artificial preservatives or fillers
- Suitable for ducks as well as chickens
- Not certified organic or non-GMO
Small Pet Select Chicken Layer Feed Non-GMO Corn Free Soy Free
The Small Pet Select Chicken Layer Feed is free of corn and soy, and offers complete nutrition with 18% protein. All the ingredients are organic, non-GMO, and grown locally in the Pacific Northwest.
The feed is high protein pellets along with whole grains and seeds, and a light coating of vegetable oil high in Omega 3 fatty acids. The feed contains all the essential nutrients chickens need, including high calcium and healthy fats, and chickens enjoy the whole grains with minimal fines.
Small Pet Select backs their chicken layer feed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- Complete nutrition with 18% protein
- Organic, GMO-free, and locally grown in the Pacific Northwest
- Soy free and corn free, suitable for people with allergies and food sensitivities
- Whole grains and seeds with minimal fines
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Whole peas in particular may be too large for some chickens/feeders, and they are a needed source of protein in this food
What to Look for When Buying Feed for Egg Laying Hens
Chicken feed for layers should have all the basic nutrients of an adult chicken feed, along with extra calcium to produce strong egg shells. But there are also some special ingredients in layer feed that enhance the quality of the eggs in different ways. Here are some of the key ingredients to look for.
A good layer feed should have 3-4% calcium. An egg shell is made of 95% calcium, and a hen’s calcium needs increase as she ages and in hot weather. A laying hen needs an average of 4-5 grams of calcium per day. Too little calcium, and the eggs will have weak shells. Here are some common sources of calcium in chicken feed:
Limestone is an inexpensive source of calcium, and often added to chicken feed or supplemented alone as grit. Some forms of limestone also have high levels of magnesium, which can actually reduce calcium absorption in the gut of a chicken, so chickens may show symptoms of reduced calcium even when they are given plenty of calcium-rich limestone.
Ground oyster shells are another good source of calcium for chickens. Oyster shells have slightly more calcium than limestone, and are also slightly more expensive. Like limestone, oyster shells are often mixed into feed, or supplemented as grit.
Phosphorus and Vitamin D
Without sufficient phosphorus or vitamin D, a chicken’s body can’t use calcium efficiently. So chickens who are low on phosphorus or vitamin D may show symptoms of reduced calcium. However, studies show that chickens don’t need much phosphorus, and that feed with as low as .15% will result in strong egg shells and healthy chickens.
Currently, most feed manufacturers are producing very high levels of vitamin D for layers, because it increases the amount of vitamin D in the egg yolk, and makes it a more nutritious part of a human diet. Chickens need about 3,000 IU of vitamin D per kg of feed to be healthy, but studies have found no ill effects in chickens in feeding them up to 100,000 IU/kg of vitamin D to increase vitamin content of the eggs.
Chicken Feed Nutrition Table
Vitamins and minerals. Various vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect egg production and quality. Here’s a basic nutrition table for easy reference.
|Nutrients and measurement units||Per 1000kg of complete nutrition feed for laying hens||Per 1000kg of complete nutrition feed for breeding and laying hens|
|Manganese – g||88||100|
|Zinc – g||88||100|
|Iron – g||55||66|
|Copper – g||5.5||19.3|
|Iodine – g||1.7||2.2|
|Selenium – g||0.3||0.3|
|Vitamin A – IU||8,800,000||11,000,000|
|Vitamin D – IU||3,300,000||4,400,000|
|Vitamin D3 – mg||55||55|
|Vitamin E – IU||16,500||66,000|
|Vitamin K – g||2.2||2.2|
|Thiamin – g||1.7||2.2|
|Riboflavin – g||5.5||11|
|Niacin – g||28||44|
|Pantothenic Acid – g||6.6||13|
|Biotin – mg||55||220|
|Folic acid – g||.6||1.7|
|Cobalamine – mg||22.1||25|
|Choline – g||110||220|
The Best Egg Boosting Ingredients
As we can see with vitamin D, there are a number of ways that people enhance layer feed specifically to improve the nutrient content of the eggs. Some of the more common egg boosting layer feed ingredients include:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy for a chicken’s body, but most of the benefits are in the increased omega-3 acids in the eggs, as a good source for adding them to the human diet. Some common sources of increasing omega-3s are:
- Flax seed
- Canola oil
- Fish oil
- Rapeseed oil
Marigold extract is high in antioxidant vitamins, and improves the color of a chicken’s skin, meat, and egg yolks. It is a popular supplement for boosting the bird’s health and improving the aesthetic qualities of the eggs and meat.
Organic, Non-GMO, Soy Free, etc.
Many people are being more selective in their food choices, and prefer to eat eggs from chickens that have been raised on organic and non-GMO foods. For people who are sensitive to soy, in particular, they can also be sensitive to eating eggs from chickens that are fed soy products.
Choosing organic and non-GMO foods is a better choice for your health and for the environment. Choosing layer feed without soy, corn, or other ingredients that may trigger sensitivities can help make the eggs more appealing to your family or for potential customers.
Cautions About Buying Layer Feed
Here are a few things to keep in mind when feeding your egg laying hens.
Do Not Feed Layer Food To Really Young Hens
Layer feed should not be fed to chickens before they are 16-18 weeks old, and ready to use the additional nutrients in the feed.
The actual nutrition in feed ingredients can vary widely. As with nearly all foods, the amount of calcium in a specific limestone sample can be very different from the average, and most nutrition labels are based on a mineral’s average properties, rather than the specific sample being used in that specific bag of feed.
For feed producers who are extremely concerned about product quality and accuracy of labeling, this would mean always obtaining ingredients from the same source, and periodically having them laboratory tested for accuracy in labeling.
Buy From Certified Brands
For the best quality in feed, look for a manufacturer who demonstrates that they lab test their feed and provide certified results to the consumer. In the case of limestone and its calcium and magnesium levels, you could also choose to buy ground limestone directly from a quarry and have it tested yourself.
Be Mindful of Additional Supplements Egg Laying Hens May Need
Be aware that if your chickens are extensive foragers, or eat a lot of kitchen scraps and other feed, it may dilute the balance of nutrients they need for laying eggs. Laying hens who eat a lot of food in addition to a laying feed formula should be given calcium and other nutritional supplements as grit, so that they can get extra nutrients to re-balance their diet.
A Note About Calcium
It is possible for a laying hen to get too much calcium, which will make thick, rough, bumpy egg shells. It is also possible that eggs with weak shells or no shells at all is not caused by too little calcium: a hen needs phosphorus and other nutrients in order to successfully process calcium and produce quality eggs.
In other words, calcium alone doesn’t solve all the problems with egg shells – it could be an indication, not of lack of calcium, but of a dietary imbalance. If egg shell problems persist, try restricting your hen exclusively to a good layer feed formula and reduce foraging to see if that helps.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to making sure you have the best chicken feed for egg layers. I’m confident in recommending any one of these 5 chicken feeds to use for your flock, but to pick just one, I would go with the Manna Pro Layer Pellets. In addition to being certified organic and non GMO, Manna Pro Layer Pellets contain all the essential nutrients your girls need like lysine, calcium, fiber, and ash.
You can learn more about it and ever read more reviews on Amazon by clicking the image below.
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