Pellets and crumbles are two of the most common types of poultry feed. Both are similar and have nearly identical features. However, when choosing one over the other, there are a few things you'll want to consider. Let’s break down exactly what crumbles and pellets have in common and how they differ so you can make the best choice for your chickens.
Similarities Between Crumbles and Pellets
Both pelleted layer feed and crumble layer feed are formulated as a complete feed for poultry. They each contain the essential grains, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary for a chicken to stay healthy and productive. Depending on the brand, this means pellets and crumbles are often nutritionally identical.
Layer feed can be sold in both pelleted form and crumble form. However, chick starter feed is most commonly sold as crumbles since those are easiest for chicks to consume.
At Grubbly Farms, the pellet and crumble Fresh Pecks layer feeds are nutritionally identical in order to give pet parents two equally wholesome and sustainable choices. No matter what you choose, your chickens will enjoy a grub and plant-based feed that’s free of fillers, byproducts, and additives.
Differences between Crumbles and Pellets
There are four main differences between pellets and crumbles that you should consider when evaluating what type of feed to provide your flock:
- Texture: the two differ in texture and appearance.
- Production Method: crumble feed has one more step in the production process than pellet feed
- Flock needs: the needs of your flock can often dictate which feed you choose
- Flock preference: You might find your flock tends to prefer one over the other based on what type of feed they are accustomed to
Texture and Production Methods
Pellet chicken feed is made by combining the proper ingredients to formulate a nutritionally complete diet for chickens. The ingredients are then all mixed together, warmed, and compressed into pellets. Each pellet will contain approximately the same exact nutritional value.
Some pellet feeds, like Grubbly Fresh Pecks, are a pellet and whole grain mix feed. With a mix of pellets, loose seeds and whole grains, chickens have a variety of textures to enjoy. The pellets provide the finer aspects of the diet, like protein, vitamins and minerals, while the whole grains provide the remainder of the nutrition, namely the energy and carbohydrates needed by chickens on a daily basis. Pellets in a pellet whole grain mix feed are usually smaller and more nutritionally dense than pellets in a straight pelleted feed.
Crumbles are initially formulated just like the pellets. The ingredients are mixed, warmed, and made into pellets. After pellets have been formed, there is one more step in the process to turn the feed into crumbles. The pellets are put into a tumbler or crusher and are crumbled into smaller particle sizes to make a crumble feed. Each crumble contains the exact same ingredients.
The Unique Needs of Your Flock
The feed you choose will depend heavily on the members of your flock. For example, crumbles are commonly fed to chicks (formulated into a chick starter/grower feed), young birds, and smaller chicken breeds who may have a harder time consuming larger pellet pieces. Feeding crumbles provides a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, just like pellets.
Some may find that their flock wastes the crumbles a little more than pellets since chickens instinctually forage through smaller feed particles to eat the pieces they want. Crumbles are also a little more susceptible to moisture and can clog up gravity feeders. Keeping the crumbles in a moisture proof storage container and using a dry feeding system can help prevent either of those problems from becoming an issue.
Both pellets and a pellet whole grain mix feed often reduce feed waste. The chickens may forage through the pellet whole grain mix, but there is still minimal waste compared to a mash feed. Since the pellets in a pellet whole grain mix feed are more nutritionally dense, chickens may eat fewer pellets at a time - especially if there are other foods present in the diet, like Grubblies black soldier grubs, table scraps, or the option to free-range.
Choosing the Best Feed for Your Flock
With a few exceptions, most of the time you’ll be choosing your feed texture based on the preferences of your flock. As long as they’re getting the nutrition they need, there’s no wrong answer!
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help choose a feed that will fit your flock:
- What is your flock used to eating? Often, chickens that have been raised on starter/grower crumbles, such as Grubbly Little Pecks, can have a hard time making the switch to a feed with pellets and whole grains. Once your chickens reach laying age (around 18-20 weeks), start them on a layer crumble and see how they respond. Your hens will recognize the same texture of the crumbles they’ve grown up with, but now they’ll get a feed that’s formulated to support them in their egg producing years.
- Are your chickens picky? If you find your flock continually avoiding the pellets in a pellet feed mix, try offering them a layer crumble. Picky chickens often will prefer the texture and look of crumbles.
- Do your chickens like to forage? Flocks who have the opportunity to forage for their own food may prefer a layer pellet and whole grain mix. This combination allows the chickens to customize their diet based off their needs, which will vary depending on what other foods they consume in the wild.
Remember, when switching to new foods or introducing a different type of food to your flock, do so gradually! Chickens don’t do well with sudden change (and honestly, who can’t relate to that) and it’s not healthy for their digestive system either.
Give Your Flock the Best
We all want the best for our chickens, and that includes giving them a healthy meal they’ll naturally love. For some flocks, they’ll go nuts for a pellet and whole grain mix. For others, they’re all about the crumbles. With a little trial and error, you can find your flock a feed they’ll love. Just be patient with your fluffy ones as they explore and acclimate to their new foods.
When you choose any Grubbly Fresh Pecks or Little Pecks Feed, you’ll nourish your flock the way nature intended with a healthy blend of grubs, plants, vitamins, minerals and probiotics.