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What to Feed Chickens if You Run Out of Chicken Feed

| Updated August 11, 2017

Don't panic when you suddenly realize that you are out of chicken feed and the stores are all closed for the night or even the entire weekend. While commercial chicken feed provides a convenient balance of nutrients, you can tide your chickens over for a couple of days with food supplies you probably have around the house.

Whole Grains

Grains make up a large portion of commercial chicken feed, so keep your chickens happy by sharing your own selection of whole grains with them until you can purchase more food. Chickens will enjoy grains like bulgar and wheatberries or more common grains like corn, flax, cooked rice, and raw or cooked oatmeal. Toss scratch -- a mixture of cracked corn and grains including wheats, oats and rye -- into the chicken run to keep them happy and busy searching for treats.


Protein is an important part of any chicken's diet, so consider what healthy, whole food proteins you have around the house to share. Your chickens can eat cheese, plain yogurt, sunflower seeds or cooked beans as a protein source. Chickens also enjoy eggs, but only serve them cooked so they do not start wanting to eat their own freshly laid eggs. Also consider helping chickens take advantage of natural protein sources by tossing them live crickets or worms.


When raising laying hens, you need to be especially vigilant in providing enough calcium for healthy egg shells. While some protein sources like cheese and yogurt will provide calcium, you also want to add another calcium source while you are out of chicken feed and sometimes even as a regular supplement to chicken feed. Keep your chickens happy by providing a feeder full of oyster shells for hens to peck at whenever they choose.


Balance out your chickens' diet with fruit and vegetable scraps from your own table until you can resume using commercial chicken feed. Chickens also enjoy scraps as a treat even with their usual diet in place. Only serve scraps that are still suitable for human consumption to chickens and remember that chickens might have picky tastes just like humans. Chickens will probably enjoy just about any fruit or veggie you do, but favorites include peeled bananas, strawberries and other berries, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, flowers that have not been treated with pesticides, grapes, greens like spinach or kale, melons and squash.